Phone calls from President Barack Obama were made to leaders on Capitol Hill yesterday in hopes of getting a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner received separate calls from the president. An official statement from the White House read as follows:
“In his call to Speaker Boehner, the President reiterated the need and his commitment to work with Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for the entire year, and the fact that the short-term bipartisan compromise passed by almost the entire Senate is the only option to ensure that middle class families aren’t hit with a tax hike in 10 days and gives both sides the time needed to work out a full year solution. The President urged the Speaker to take up the bipartisan compromise passed in the Senate with overwhelming Democratic and Republican support that would prevent 160 million working Americans from being hit with a holiday tax hike on January 1st.”
Speaker Boehner’s aide confirmed to the media that he spoke with the president sometime on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Huffington Post. The aide released the following statement:
“The Speaker reminded the President that the House is the only body that had done what he asked for by providing a full year of payroll tax relief and extended unemployment benefits. He urged the President to call on Senator Reid to appoint negotiators so that we can produce a full-year bill by the end of the year that provides a tax cut of $1,000 rather than only $166. The Speaker told the President that his conference was elected to change the way Washington does business and that we should not waste the next ten days simply because it is an inconvenient time of year.”
It remains up in the air how the payroll tax debate will be resolved, as republican leaders are unmoved by the overture from Obama. It seems that the White House has a better advantage than the rest of the government in this situation. Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, was asked multiple times if Obama would help Boehner out of the predicament he is in at the time.
“The president is doing everything he can to help the American people,” Carney replied. “The Speaker is very capable of helping himself by calling a vote on the Senate compromise, a compromise that received the support of 80 percent of the Republican senators and an even greater percentage of Democratic senators.”
Only moments before the White House administration released the statement about Obama’s phone call to Boehner, it was announced that the president would be leaving the White House for an unannounced trip. It was initially believed that Obama was going to speak with Boehner in person. Instead, it was discovered that Obama was heading to Virginia to conduct holiday shopping while his family was out of town. Obama is scheduled to meet up with his family in Hawaii at some point, but that hinges on when the payroll tax cut debate is resolved.