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Obama to sign payroll tax deal when Congress passes legislation

(Xinhua)

08:22, February 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- The White House said on Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama would sign on the extension of payroll tax cut and the jobless benefits for the long- term unemployed as soon as Congress passes such legislation.

The process is moving forward and the President looks forward to signing into law an extension of the tax cut, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama headed to campaign events in California.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, the top GOP congressman, on Thursday said at a press conference that he supported the full- year extension deal which was a "fair agreement."

Boehner cautioned that this was an "economic relief" package, not a bill that could help grow the economy and create jobs.

Congressional leaders have reached a tentative deal earlier this week extending the 2-percentage-point payroll tax cut through the end of the year and unemployment benefits as well as avoiding a steep cut in Medicare doctors' fees, paving the way for both chambers of Congress to vote on the bill in coming days.

With public approval rating for Congress at a record low, Boehner and his top GOP lieutenants announced Monday that they would not insist that the 100 billion dollars cost of the tax cut be offset with spending cuts elsewhere in a bid to outmaneuver rival Democrats, averting another round of brinkmanship.

The agreement represents a victory for Obama and his fellow Democrats, who have argued that payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans could provide a boost to the anemic economic recovery. Republican lawmakers also have reason to welcome the deal, as it gets a politically troubling issue off the table.

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