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Obama links payroll tax cut to gas prices


While Congress has yet to deliver the bill to his desk, President Obama today praised the body for passing a ten-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, although he urged them to pass more of his legislative priorities.

"In the end, everyone acted in the interests of the middle class, and people who are striving to get into the middle class through hard work, Obama said in remarks at the White House Tuesday morning.

The president also said the passage of the legislation, which the White House says would give the average worker an extra $40 a pay period, could help pay for gas, which is at record highs for this time of year.

"That $40 helps to pay the rent, the groceries, the rising cost of gas," Obama said, "which is on a lot of people's minds right now."

Obama said that while Congress had done the "right thing" on tax cuts, he had proposed many other measures that the White House believes will help economic recovery.

"Now my message to Congress is:  Don’t stop here.  Keep going," he added, laying out three specific directives: approving a program that would expand access to mortgage refinancing for some underwater homeowners; funding programs to reward small businesses who keep jobs in America; and passing the so-called "Buffett rule" to raise taxes on individuals earning more than $1 million.

Obama added that if Congress did not act on these programs, he would find avenues around the legislature to accomplish the same goals.

"With or without Congress, every day I’m going to be continuing to fight for (Americans).  I do hope Congress joins me, he said, urging them not to spend "the coming months in a lot of phony political debates."

While today's event was held to commemorate the passage of the bill, Congress has not yet presented Obama with a document to sign, which sometimes is accompanied by a public event featuring members who supported the legislation.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during today's briefing with reporters that the delay was not a political maneuver meant to prevent the president from staging a signing ceremony.

"Sometimes it takes time for Congress to deliver a bill," after a reporter broached the premise of political motivation.