THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Sorry to interrupt.
MR. CARNEY: All yours, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody. It is no secret that there hasn’t been an abundance of partisanship in Washington this year. And that’s why what happened on Saturday was such a big deal.
Nearly the entire Senate -- including almost all of the Republicans -- voted to prevent 160 million working Americans from receiving a tax increase on January 1st. Nearly the entire Senate voted to make sure that nearly 2.5 million Americans who are out there looking for a job don’t lose their unemployment insurance in the first two months of next year. And just about everybody -- Democrats and Republicans -- committed to making sure that early next year we find a way to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance through the end of 2012.
But now, even though Republicans and Democrats in the Senate were willing to compromise for the good of the country, a faction of Republicans in the House are refusing to even vote on the Senate bill -- a bill that cuts taxes for 160 million Americans. And because of their refusal to cooperate, all those Americans could face a tax hike in just 11 days, and millions of Americans who are out there looking for work could find their unemployment insurance expired.
Now, let’s be clear: Right now, the bipartisan compromise that was reached on Saturday is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1st. It’s the only one. All of the leaders in Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- say they are committed to making sure we extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the entire year. And by the way, this is something I called for months ago.
The issue is, is that the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate worked on a one-year deal, made good progress, but determined that they needed more time to reach an agreement. And that’s why they passed an insurance policy -- to make sure that taxes don’t go up on January 1st.
In fact, the House Republicans say they don’t dispute the need for a payroll tax cut. What they’re really
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