- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama said Tuesday there are “hopeful signs” that Congress will reach a deal to extend expiring payroll-tax cuts for millions of Americans, but he urged the public to keep up the pressure on lawmakers until an agreement is finalized and a bill lands on his desk.

“You’re starting to hear voices talk about how we can go ahead and make this happen in a timely way on behalf of the American people,” Mr. Obama said. “That is good news.”

But Mr. Obama warned that nothing in Washington should be taken for granted “until my signature is actually on it.”

The president spoke a day after House Republican leaders offered to continue the payroll-tax cut without demanding that its costs be offset by other budgetary cuts.

Mr. Obama did not mention the GOP proposal, and some Democrats are reluctant to separate the payroll-tax cut extension from an extension of unemployment benefits and want them acted on at the same time.

Unless Congress acts, the payroll-tax cuts and jobless benefits will run out at the end of the month.

Mr. Obama made his remarks surrounded by people the White House said exemplify those who would benefit from the tax cut. The White House said the average family would stand to lose about $40 per paycheck if the cuts are not extended.

The White House held a similar event in December as Congress struggled to prevent the cuts from expiring. Lawmakers eventually reached a short-term deal to extend the tax cuts for two months.

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