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Obama: Tax deal will look better with more scrutiny


Touting good reviews the tax deal announced this week received from economists, the president again called on Congress today to pass the bill.

President Obama also expressed confidence the Senate would ratify the New START arms control treaty with Russia before leaving for the holidays.

He made the remarks after a meeting with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski during which the conversation touched on subjects ranging from the NATO alliance, to visa issues, to energy independence and the economy.

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Despite clear unease on the part of many Democrats on the Hill with an agreement that would extend the Bush era tax rates for all income levels, the president said it was "inaccurate to characterize Democrats writ large as feeling quote unquote betrayed" and asked members of Congress to closely study the bill but to "get this done."

"I think Democrats are looking at this bill, and you've already had a whole bunch of them who've said this makes sense, and I think the more they look at it, the more of them are going to say this makes sense," the president said. "You've just had economists over the last 24, 48 hours examine this and say this is going to boost the economy; it is going to grow the economy; it is going to increase the likelihood that we can drive down the unemployment rate."

Obama pointed to analysis from economists who have upwardly revised their forecasts for economic growth and predicted more job growth in 2011 and 2012 than originally anticipated. The president said the deal was "the right thing to do" and warned Congress that the American people were watching and expecting lawmakers to take action.

The plan has not yet been scheduled for a vote in either house. Under the deal, the Bush-era tax rates would be extended for two years for people at all income levels and unemployment insurance would be extended for 13 months. It includes a one-year payroll tax holiday, an extension of other tax credits for working families and students and other tax breaks for businesses.

Saying the START treaty with Russia was important not just to America but also to allies like Poland, which has had a long, uneasy history with its neighbor, Obama noted the support the agreement has received from "the entire national security apparatus of previous Democratic and Republican administrations" and said it was something that on its merit needed to get passed.

"I have discussed it with Senate Republican Leader [Mitch] McConnell," he said. "I am confident that we are going to be able to get the START treaty on the floor, debated and completed before we break for the holidays."