While the payroll tax extensions are on hold for the time being, things are still moving behind the scenes. President Obama made phone calls to both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. While there are no plans to have a face-to-face meeting, the White House has made it clear that the ball is in the House's court.
We got two different readouts of the Obama-Boehner phone call. If only we had been conferenced in to hear what really was said.
From the White House:
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. ...The President urged the Speaker to allow a vote on the one compromise that Democrats and Republicans passed together to give the American people the assurance they need during this holiday season that they won't see a significant tax hike in just 10 days.
From an aide to Speaker Boehner:
Speaker Boehner spoke to President Obama this afternoon regarding the House’s efforts to prevent a tax increase next year on 160 million working Americans. 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. He said that our differences are not so great that we cannot pass a full-year bill by December 31st. Speaker reiterated to the President that Republican negotiators remain in Washington and ready to work. "Let’s get this done today," the Speaker said.
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