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Obama urges U.S. congress to keep on with bipartisanship

(Xinhua)

09:18, February 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday welcomed an agreement by Congress to extend payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, calling for continued bipartisanship to help the economy.

Obama said at the White House that lawmakers should build on the success of the agreement by taking additional steps to create jobs, grow the economy and help the middle class, in particular by giving help to homeowners in need of refinancing their mortgages and small businesses.

He also urged lawmakers to ensure that people making more than 1 million U.S. dollars a year pay at least 30 percent of their incomes in taxes.

Both the House and Senate passed the full-year extension of payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed last Friday with bipartisan coalition. The bill extends a 2- percentage-point payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans and secures jobless insurance for people out of work for more than six months.

The passage is seen as a victory for Obama and congressional Democrats, who have argued that payroll tax cut for Americans could provide a boost to economic recovery.

However, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, the top GOP congressman, while supporting the plan, argued that it was an " economic relief" package but "not a growth bill."

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