President Obama on Thursday rapped members of Congress for any suggestion that they would leave town without extending the payroll tax cut or shut down the government.
“There’s no reason the government should shut down over this,” Mr. Obama said.
Throughout the week, White House spokesman Jay Carney has said accusations that Democrats are threatening to shut down the government are inaccurate because Republicans could simply pass another continuing resolution to keep the government funded, as they have seven times already this year.
Democrats and House Republicans are haggling over the details of both the payroll tax cut extension as well as an omnibus spending bill with Democrats wanting to take up the payroll tax cut first and Republicans prioritizing the spending bill. The government runs out of money at midnight Friday and both sides have yet to come to a compromise on whether or how to pay for the payroll tax cut.
Mr. Obama Thursday stressed the importance of passing the payroll tax cut, noting that not doing so would increase taxes by an average of $1,000 on 160 million Americans.
“None of the workers who’ve joined us here today can afford a $1,000 tax increase next year,” Mr. Obama said at an event announcing new compensation rules for home health care workers. “And it wouldn’t be good for the economy.”
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to extend these items — the payroll tax cut, [unemployment insurance] — before the holidays,” Mr. Obama continued. “There’s no reason the government should shut down over this. And I expect all of us to do what’s necessary in order to do the people’s business and make sure that it’s done before the end of the year.”
Republicans also want to add language giving a green light to a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, citing the number of jobs it would create. Mr. Obama recently announced a delay in the pipeline project until the State Department conducts an extensive review of its possible environmental ramifications.
House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, sounded optimistic that Congress would settle its differences by the end of next week.
“Look, I’ve been here for a while. This is not the first time I’ve seen year-end work get knotted up. But I think everyone just needs to step back and take a deep breath,” he said. “I think there’s an easy way to untangle all of this. We just need to let the members do their jobs — and we need to let the two institutions to their work.”