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Obama continues tax push

President Obama, with the help of business leaders, kept up the pressure on members of Congress to pass a tax deal reached with Republicans that would extend Bush-era tax rates for all income levels for two years and extend unemployment insurance for 13 months, along with other measures.

The president used a meeting of his Export Council to act on the agreement, which he believes is essential to the economy's continued recovery.

"Every economist that I've talked to, or that I've read over the last couple of days, acknowledges that this agreement would boost economic growth in the coming years and has the potential to create millions of jobs," Obama said.

"If this framework fails, the reverse is true: Americans would see it in smaller paychecks that would have the effect of fewer jobs."

White House officials across the board -- from economic advisers like Larry Summers and Austan Goolsbee, to senior adviser David Axelrod and Vice President Biden -- have been working hard to get the agreement passed. And the president's comments today came moments before the House Democratic Caucus voted to reject the president's tax compromise, a move that left in question what form the bill would take when it came to the House floor.

The White House released a statement after the news that seemed aimed at reducing any concern that the deal would not be passed.

"The House and Senate are working through the normal process of bringing a bill forward, and we are confident that the major components of the tax framework that we fought for will remain in the final package brought to the floor and ultimately passed by Congress," read the statement by Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki.

Full court press
After the Export Council meeting, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters the tax deal would help American companies grow, invest and create more jobs, and would be a boon to the middle class.

"The tax benefit to middle Americans is absolutely substantial," Locke said. "Much more money in their pockets than simply with the continuation of the Bush tax cuts, because the reductions in the payroll tax will mean substantially more dollars in the pockets of Americans, giving them economic security."

Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, who co-chairs the Export Council, said the tax deal was essential to providing certainty for companies and individuals and that it would be "very disappointing if it didn't pass," while UPS CEO Scott David noted that the provision that allows companies to deduct investments in 2011 would lead his company to invest "an awful lot more money."

"I think that this tax proposal will help continue the recovery, and I think it's vital to continuing the recovery," Davis said. "I also think, you know, for retail sales to continue, this payroll tax rebate is something that's gonna be very helpful to the consumer next year, so I think this would be a major setback if we don't take it up and approve that this year."