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President Obama says high gas prices justify payroll tax cut extension

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 16th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In order to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance through the end of the year, President Barack Obama cited rising gas prices as one of the chief reasons. The White House says that the average U.S. citizen would be affected by $40 per paycheck if the tax cut is not extended at the end of February.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The payroll tax funds Social Security and cutting the tax would reduce funding to Social Security by $119 billion over the next year. This would be on top of the $105 billion reduced from funding in 2011.

Republican lawmakers have announced plans to vote for a full-year extension to the tax cut. In opposition, Obama told his audience at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington that they must put pressure on Congress.

"Congress needs to extend that tax cut - along with vital insurance lifelines for folks who've lost their jobs during this recession - and they need to do it now, without drama and without delay," Obama said.

"No ideological sideshows to gum up the works. No self-inflicted wounds. Just pass this middle-class tax cut. Pass the extension of unemployment insurance. Do it before it's too late, and I will sign it right away."

House Republicans have tried to extend the payroll tax cut for a full year in December. They also agreed to a Senate Democratic proposal to extend it just for the first two months of 2012.

Obama delivered a budget address at the beginning of this week in which he referred to the Bush tax cuts as $1 trillion in spending. The following day, Obama stressed that the economy is improving and that this is not a time to reduce the amount of spending money.

"Allowing this tax cut to expire would make people's lives harder right now," Obama said. "It would make their choices more difficult. It would be $40 less for groceries to feed your kids; it would be $40 less for the medications you depend on; $40 less to cover bills and the rent; $40 less to take care of an elder parent, or to donate to a church or a charity.

"And when gas prices are on the rise again - because as the economy strengthens, global demand for oil increases - and if we start seeing significant increases in gas prices, losing that $40 could not come at a worse time," Obama said. "One local entrepreneur named Thierry - where's Thierry? He's right here.

"He told us that $40 would cover the gas that gets him to his day job, or, alternatively, the Internet service his small business depends on. So he'd have to start making a choice - do I fill up my gas tank to get to my work, or do I give up my entrepreneurial dream. 'Forty dollars,' he wrote, 'means a heck of a lot,'" the president added.

When President Obama entered the White House in January 2009, the city average price for one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $1.79. Five months later in June, unleaded gasoline was $2.26 per gallon, an increase of 26 percent. By December 2011, the price of regular unleaded gas per gallon was $3.28, an 83 percent increase from January 2009.

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