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Obama urges public pressure over tax cut


President Obama called today for renewed public pressure on Congress to pass a yearlong extension of both the tax cut and employment benefits set to expire at the end of February. 

He also indicated that he thought congressional Republicans’ offer Monday to extend just the payroll tax cut was an encouraging sign but not enough for a final deal. 

“The good news is over the last couple of days, we've seen some hopeful signs in Congress that they realize that they've got to get this,” Obama said, speaking to an audience of people the White House said had benefited from the payroll tax cut.

“But as you guys know, you can't take anything for granted here in Washington until my signature is actually on it,” he continued. “Until you see me sign this thing, you've got to keep on speaking up.”

Encouraging the public to do just that, the White House this morning reprised the December “#40dollars” Twitter campaign in which Americans were encouraged to list ways they could use an extra $40 each paycheck -– the average savings employees saw with the tax cut.

That show of support, Obama said, helped push Congress to agree to the temporary two-month extension of both measures.

“Last December, when we had this same fight, your voices made all the difference.  We asked folks to tell what it was like -- what it would be like if they lost $40 out of every one of their paycheck, because we wanted to make sure that people understood this is not just an abstract argument, this is concrete,” he said.

“Call, tweet, write your congressmen, write your senators. Tell them, do not let up until this thing gets done.”

And as he did during that original battle with Congress, Obama called this potential extension a “make-or-break moment for the middle class.”

“We can settle for a country where a few people do really, really well and everybody else struggles just to get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.”

While much of his language today was similar to that used during the original fight over the tax cut, he did use a new transportation-based metaphor for economic recovery, moving beyond the imagery of a rescued car that had been driven into a ditch by Republicans.

The economy, Obama indicated, is on the ascent now, but he has to keep it moving in the right direction.

“When a plane is finally lifting off the ground, you don't ease up on the throttle. You keep the throttle on full. You keep going. And our plane is up there, but we're not at cruising altitude yet,” he said.