Obama slams House GOP over tax impasse

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Hours after the House rejected the Senate’s bill for a two-month extension of payroll-tax cuts, President Obama on Tuesday accused House Republican leaders of playing politics and blamed them for what he said would be an impending tax increase on 160 million Americans.

“Let’s not play brinksmanship,” Mr. Obama said in a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room. “Time is running out. If House Republicans refuse to vote for the Senate bill, … taxes will go up in 11 days.”

The president praised the Senate for the bipartisan compromise it reached on Saturday, one that the White House also supported.

“I need [House Speaker John A. Boehner] and House Republicans to do the same — put politics aside,” Mr. Obama said.

The House earlier Tuesday voted to start negotiations with the Senate on the payroll tax fight — but Senate Democrats have said they won’t cancel their vacation to conduct the talks, resulting in the deadlock, which could raises taxes for most families an average of $1,000.

Following the vote, Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, sent a letter to Mr. Obama urging him to get involved and bring Senate Democrats to the negotiating table.

But Mr. Obama said the Senate bill is “the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on Jan. 1. It’s the only one.”

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