- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One day after the deficit supercommittee conceded failure and left Washington for Thanksgiving without reaching a deal, President Obama thrust himself into GOP primary territory, urging Republicans in Congress to expand the payroll tax-cut extension when they return from their break and back off their pledge not to raise taxes.

If Congress does not pass the payroll tax-cut expansion in his jobs plan, 160 million middle-class Americans would see a tax increase of $1,000, Mr. Obama told a crowd gathered in the Manchester High School Central gym Tuesday in Manchester, N.H. If his version of the extension passes, the average American family would receive a $1,500 tax cut.

“All right, so I just wanted to be clear for everybody,” he said. “No, your taxes go up; yes, you get a tax cut. Which way do you think Congress should vote?”

At the beginning of Mr. Obama’s speech, hecklers apparently connected with the Occupy movement interrupted his remarks. Mr. Obama stopped speaking as the protesters shouted in unison: “Mr. President, over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested.”

The interruption went on for more than a minute until students in the crowd eventually drowned out the protesters with cheers of “fired up and ready to go” and a resounding chant of Mr. Obama’s name.

Mr. Obama then moved on, saying, “I’m going to be talking about a whole range of things today, and I appreciate you guys making your point. Let me make mine. I’ll listen to you, you listen to me.”

The protesters weren’t the only ones “welcoming” Mr. Obama to the Granite State on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney took out full-page ads in the state’s three biggest newspapers and released a new television commercial that argued that the president’s policies have failed to create jobs and spur investment.

Even before the president arrived in New Hampshire, the Democratic National Committee condemned the Romney ad for taking a partial Obama quote out of context. In fact, the ad contained a snippet of a comment in which Mr. Obama had quoted an aide from the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

Critics said it’s no coincidence that Mr. Obama flew to the Granite State, a Romney stronghold. The former Massachusetts governor is running second in a Real Clear Politics average of national polls behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has surged in recent weeks. But Mr. Romney is far ahead in New Hampshire.

Other candidates also took aim at the president for crashing the GOP party in New Hampshire.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the trip evidence of the president’s “never-ending” campaign and suggested Mr. Obama should step up his role in Washington’s efforts to resolve the impasse between the two parties on deficit reduction.

“Washington is broken,” said Mr. Perry in a statement. “America needs Congress and the president to work through the holidays, work on weekends and do whatever it takes to cut spending and taxes and get America’s economic house in order.”

During his speech, Mr. Obama thanked Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, for joining him at the event but made no mention of the early January GOP primary in the state. Instead, he trained his fire on members dead set against raising any taxes on the wealthy to help prevent entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid from deeper cuts.

“A lot of them have sworn an oath: We’re never going to raise taxes on anybody for as long as we live, even though they’ve already voted against these middle-class tax cuts once,” Mr. Obama said.

“But the question they’ll have to answer when they get back from Thanksgiving is this: Are they really willing to break their oath to never raise taxes and raise taxes on the middle class just to play politics?”