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Democrats hold a voter-registration edge by a ratio of 6-to-1 in Scranton, but Republicans have been making gains in the region. In the midterm elections, Lou Barletta and Thomas Marino defeated incumbent Democrats. Mr. Barletta unseated 13-term veteran Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski.

The Senate is expected to vote at the end of this week on Mr. Obama’s call to extend and expand the payroll-tax cut, but it is expected to go down to defeat with Republicans saying they will vote to block it.

The GOP ardently opposes the Democrats‘ proposal to pay for the lost revenue by imposing a surtax on millionaires. After rejecting the Democrats‘ bill, Republicans hope to bring up a payroll-tax expansion bill of their own — one that includes an offset so attractive that most Republicans would be hard-pressed to oppose it.

In a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Senate Republicans discussed different ways to pay for a payroll-tax extension. After the meeting, Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican, said one proposal would produce the savings by eliminating cost-of-living increases for senior government officials, including members of Congress, and shrink the size of the federal government through attrition.

“It needs to be paid for,” Mr. Wicker said. “I expect and believe that we’ll find a viable way to pay for it. You do not raise taxes on anybody during a recession like this when unemployment is at 9 percent.”

The payroll tax funds Social Security, and even though the money lost as a result of last year’s cut was replaced with general revenue funds, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said he was wary of tapping that source.

“I’m studying it,” said Mr. Sessions, one of a handful of Republicans who voted against enacting the tax cut last year. “I don’t think this is fairly called a tax cut. I think it is a pension-fund payment holiday.”

Mr. Sessions said he doesn’t think the action taken last year stimulated the economy the way the administration had promised.

But the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers told reporters Tuesday that the 2 percent cut helped stabilize the economy as it was being hit by higher gasoline prices, the fallout from Japan’s earthquake and the economic turmoil in Europe. He said extending the cut into next year would help gird against future financial fallout across the Atlantic.

• Susan Crabtree contributed to this report.