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Obama Issues Christmas Ultimatum to Congress

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The morning after the Senate defeated Democratic and Republican plans to extend the payroll tax cut, President Obama threatened Congress to pass a payroll tax cut before the holiday recess or “we can all spend Christmas here together.”

“We’re going to keep pushing Congress to make this happen.  Now is not the time to slam the brakes on the recovery,” Obama said at an event on energy efficiency in Washington. “Right now it's time to step on the gas.  We need to get this done.  And I expect that it's going to get done before Congress leaves.  Otherwise, Congress may not be leaving, and we can all spend Christmas here together.”

The president said it was “disappointing” that the plans to extend and expand the payroll tax cut were defeated on Capitol Hill. “That effectively would raise taxes on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans, because they didn't want to ask a few hundred thousand of the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and get the economy growing faster…and I think that's unacceptable,” he said.

Reflecting on Friday morning’s jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate dropped last month to 8.6 percent, the president said “we need to keep that growth going.”

“Right now that means Congress needs to extend the payroll tax cut for working Americans for another year.  Congress needs to renew unemployment insurance for Americans who are still out there pounding the pavement and looking for work.  Failure to take either of these steps would be a significant blow to our economy,” Obama said.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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