By Gobby Wag
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2011-12-14 11:29 AM
The legislation "extends the payroll tax relief, extends and reforms unemployment insurance and protects Social Security without job-killing tax hikes," Republican House Speaker John Boehner declared after the measure had cleared.
Referring to the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline, he added, "Our bill includes sensible, bipartisan measures to help the private sector create jobs."
"This is not a time for Washington Republicans to score political points against the president," Obama's spokesman Jay Carney said afterwards. "This is a time to help the middle class and all those trying to reach it."
On a long day of finger pointing, however, House Democrats accused Republicans of protecting "millionaires and billionaires," and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., derided the GOP-backed pipeline provision as "ideological candy" for the tea party-set.
After the House vote, the White House urged Congress on in finishing work on extending the tax cuts and jobless aid. Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that didn't mention the pipeline but renewed Obama's insistence that the legislation be paid for, at least in part, by "asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share" in higher tax levies.
Lawmakers "cannot go on vacation before agreeing to prevent a tax hike on 160 million Americans and extending unemployment insurance," he said.
Republicans mocked Obama's objections to their version of the bill.
"Mr. President, we can't wait," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, employing a refrain the White House often uses to criticize Republicans for failing to take steps to improve an economy struggling to recover from the worst recession in decades.
Voting in favor of the legislation were 224 Republicans and 10 Democrats, while 179 Democrats and 14 Republicans opposed it.
At its core, the measure did include key parts of the jobs program that Obama asked Congress to approve in September.
The Social Security payroll tax cuts approved a year ago to help stimulate the economy would be extended through 2012, avoiding a loss of take-home income for wage-earners. An expiring program of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless would remain in place, although at reduced levels that the administration said would cut off aid for 3.3 million.