February 14, 2012 / 4:08 PM / 6 years ago

Obama "hopeful" on payroll tax cut extension

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he had seen “hopeful signs” that Congress would pass a payroll tax cut extension for the full year, as he kept pressure on lawmakers to take action he said was needed to keep the U.S. recovery on track.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his administration's 2013 budget at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia, February 13, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

“When a plane has finally lifted off the ground, you don’t ease up on the throttle,” Obama said at an event intended to showcase how urgently ordinary Americans need the $40 per paycheck that the payroll tax cut is worth.

Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives dropped their demand on Monday that the tax break be paid for by cuts elsewhere in federal spending, paving a way for a deal with Obama’s Democrats.

“The good news is, over the last couple of days we’ve seen some hopeful signs in Congress that they realize that they’ve got to get this done, and you’re starting to hear voices talk about how can we go ahead make this happen,” Obama said.

He cautioned that “you can’t take anything for granted in Washington until my signature is actually on it,” and urged the public to keep up the political pressure to cushion the U.S. recovery from the likely shock of higher gas prices.

“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.

Seeking a repeat of the public backlash that helped push Republicans to agree to a temporary extension of the tax break, which expires on February 29, Obama said keep the stories coming.

“Tell us what $40 means to you. If you tweet it, use the hash tag #$40. Call, tweet, write your congressman, write your senators, tell them do not let up until this thing gets done.”

Reporting By Alister Bull and Caren Bohan; editing by Christopher Wilson

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