Obama ‘Pleased’ About Payroll Tax Cut Extension

President Obama praised the Senate action today to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for two months, but did not mention the measure's requirement that he make a decision on the Keystone pipeline in 60 days, a key provision for Republicans.

"Today, Congress has finally agreed to extend to this middle class tax cut into next year," he said in a brief statement in the White House. "They've also agreed to another part of the jobs plan - extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are out there trying as hard as they can to find a job. This is spending money that also benefits families and businesses and the entire economy. It's lifeline that would have been lost for more than 2 ½ million people in the first few months of next year if Congress hadn't acted. So I'm very pleased to have seen the work that Senate has done."

Obama said that when Congress comes back next year, the cuts should be extended for the rest of the year.

"It would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle class tax cut for the rest of the year," he said. "It should be a formality and something that is done with as little drama when they get back in January. There are plenty of ways to pay for the proposal. This is a way to boost economy that is supported by the very same Democrats and Republicans. It is something economists say will assure that the economy and recovery will be on a more stable footing than it otherwise would be."

Democrats like this because it keeps the middle class tax cut from becoming an election year issue.

"This really isn't hard," the president said, adding, "it's a way to boost the economy."

He said his preference would have been to pay for the cut by asking "wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share."

"I think it is important for us to get it done," Obama said. "We've got a lot more work to do for people who sent us here, but today I'm glad that both parties in Congress came together and I want to thank them for ensuring that as we head into the holidays, folks at home don't have to worry about their taxes going up."

He said he hopes that members of the House get this "done" on Monday when they return to Washington.