WASHINGTON (AP) — Relishing a political victory, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Congress "did the right thing" by extending payroll tax cuts for millions of Americans. He urged lawmakers to push forward on more measures, from assistance to struggling homeowners to increased taxes on the wealthy, saying the looming election was no excuse for inaction in Washington.
"Don't stop here. Keep going,'" Obama said during a White House event marking the passage of the tax cuts.
"Keep taking the action that people are calling for to keep this economy growing. This may be an election year, but the American people have no patience for gridlock," he said.
Obama was celebrating a tax cut that is already in place, but due to expire at month's end. He said the extension of the tax cut for the rest of the year will have a spillover effect: More people will spend money and more businesses in turn will be prodded to hire workers, and so "the entire economy" gets a boost.
Congress overwhelmingly passed the $143 billion measure on Friday. The bill extends both a 2 percentage point reduction in the tax that funds Social Security and extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. The measure also averts a big cut in the reimbursements doctors get for treating Medicare patients.
But Tuesday's event was not a bill-signing because the bill is not yet in Obama's hands. Not knowing when the legislation will come down from Capitol Hill, the White House decided to go ahead and hold its event now, while the victory is still fresh in people's minds. No major event is planned for the actual bill-signing.
The payroll tax cut was a centerpiece of the jobs plan Obama unveiled last year — and of a re-election strategy that seeks to cast his GOP foes as protectors of the rich out of touch with the worries of working families.
Obama never mentioned that a real driver of the deal Congress approved Friday was the political fallout on Republicans if they didn't give ground. Having endured a debacle in December, when they were seen as holding up the tax cut before caving, Republicans this time went along, and without demanding that the cost be paid for, either.
The White House said the average family would have lost $40 per paycheck had the tax cut not been extended. Throughout the payroll tax debate, the White House encouraged people to write in on social networking sites about how losing that money would affect their lives.
Several members of the public who submitted their thoughts were invited to join Obama at events promoting the tax cuts, including his remarks Tuesday.
"This got done because of you," Obama said. "Because you called, you emailed, you tweeted your representatives and you demanded action. You made it clear that you wanted to see some common sense in Washington."
White House officials have called the payroll tax cut the last "must-do" legislation Obama has to work with Congress on ahead of the November presidential election. Still, Obama made a push Tuesday for several other priorities outlined in his jobs bill and last month's State of the Union address, including legislation to assist small business owners and struggling homeowners.
Obama earlier this month proposed a vast expansion of government assistance to homeowners that would make lower lending rates a possibility for millions of borrowers who have not been able to get out from under burdensome mortgages. The proposal has special resonance in election battlegrounds such as Nevada and Florida that have faced record foreclosures.
Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for more borrowers to refinance their loans, creating a new program through the Federal Housing Administration that would have the government assume the risk for the new mortgages. The proposal faces a difficult path in Congress.
Obama also said he wants Congress to pass the so-called Buffett rule, which seeks to ensure that people making more than $1 million a year pay at least 30 percent of their incomes in taxes.
Associated Press writers Ben Feller and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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jimkarw | June 4 2012 10:36pm
Wisconsin’s Collective Bargaining
Ethics v Ethics
The biggest issue in Wisconsin at this time is not finding a better job, the cost of gas, or who will be our next President of the United States of America. It is who will be the next governor of the state and the right for Unions to control the government through collective bargaining, or the right of the government to control itself through removing the right of collective bargaining for government employees. First what is collective bargaining?
Collective Bargaining; “Type of negotiation used by employees to work with their employers. The agreement is to reflect the combined wishes of all of the employees, the employer also benefits through the collective bargaining agreement because expectations are clearly defined for both sides ("Wisegeek",).”
The question for the paper is when collective bargaining becomes an ethical issue, or is it an ethical issue. It is understood that Union wages typically are higher than non-union jobs in similar fields. If the bargaining power of the Union prevents financial growth management of a business, then the business needs to either cut ties with the union, or go out of business. Employees of a business should have the right to negotiate their work environment and wages and if they do not have this ability they may have no choice then to be subject to the whims of the employer or leave. Both arguments are valid, fair, as well as ethical. In the state of Wisconsin, this is being questioned by both parties and both parties have valid points.
A union’s responsibility is to do what is right for all employees as long as this does not interfere with the business right to do business as it sees fit to stay competitive and effective. If a union becomes too big, or uncooperative and loses the focus that they do not run, or own the business. The union becomes a problem that prevents the freedom of a business from succeeding in a competitive or economically difficult market.
If a business cannot meet its financial obligations; to employees, stockholders, banks, or for self-investment for its future the business it will have to go out of business and everyone loses. A mistake that some employers or businesses make in working with unions is that they give too much responsibility, or power to the union, preventing the employer from make tough choices. If the unions dictate these choices the business may have to start reducing its workforce or close.
The State of Wisconsin, is dealing with such a situation in its collective bargaining recall election in May of 2012. At the beginning of the fiscal year of 2011, “Wisconsin had a short fall of $258 million dollars, in unpaid bills; this amount did not include a shortfall of $174 million from Medicaid and the $174 million that it owed to the state of Minnesota. By ignoring these debts the recipients of Medicaid would be turned away which ethically would not be an option (Umhoefer, 2011)”.
So this shortfall had to be addressed in some manor, to do so someone had to loose but who could absorb the loss and who could not. The answer also had to be addressed in the long-term and not for right-now or until the next person comes into office. This type of approach is what caused the problem in the first place. The individuals that controlled the budget in the past did not address their fiscal responsibility; their focus was on the vote, not on the fiscal need of the business, or the state.
The budget could have been repaired by deigning Medicaid to those who need it the most, firing state employees by the thousands, or just kick the can to the next guy. Wisconsin’s Governor decided that he was the next guy and the tough decision needed to be made now. His predecessor did not address these issues while he was in office, not because they were not there, or because he did not know about them. He wanted to be reelected and the Unions were his biggest reelection financial contributor. Which raises another ethical question, should powerful unions contribute to a political candidate? Even; if their members do not collectively agree with, understand the candidate’s political goals, or agenda.
Unions have a place in our society; help keep workers safe, they create working environment that promotes equality and fairness. Collective bargaining allows this and prevents the employer from having all of the power over its employees, but the same can be said if the union has too much power that prevents the employer from being successful as a business.
In this situation the Unions had too much power and have created a situation that the business (government) could not maintain itself to be competitive or successful. The government took the responsibility that something had to give and was willing the make the hard decisions. The union is this situation mistakenly believed that it spoke for the entire population whether they were involved with the union or not. The Union in this case did not want to see the big picture, only the part on how it affected them, and the control that they loss. I am sure that the collective bargaining will be reestablished in the future but not at the level they had only one year ago.
Umhoefer, D. (2011, February 18). Rachel Maddow says Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year. Journal Sentinel. Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/18/rachel-maddow/rachel-maddow-says-wisconsin-track-have-budget-sur/
wiseGeek. (). Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-collective-bargaining.htm
bandmember11 | May 30 2012 12:05am
@CarolVincent Honestly, you're not allowed to write a comment such as the one you wrote. You can't complain about anyone else's spelling and grammar when you obviously can't check your own.
Let's see, you* By* your* I'd* you* couldn't* your* yourself,* by the way* President Obama*
CarolVincent | March 25 2012 8:50pm
What stupid comments, did u even read the article? by ur spelling id say u couldnt even comprehend it.. take ur heads out of the sand and out of Fox's butt and educate urself. and btw his name is President obama, not obama
hondwing | February 22 2012 9:32am
OBAMA U NEVER GOT A VICTORY, YOUVE NOT DONE ANY WORK, YOUVE TAKEN MOR VACATIONS AT OUR EXPENCE YES YOU DONT PAY FOR THOSE WE DO. AND YOU TELL PEOPLE WE MUST TIGHTEN OUR WALLETS, WHEN HAVE YOU?
hondwing | February 22 2012 9:30am
WELL OBAMA ITS THE LEAST THAT COULD BE DONE WHEN YOUR MOST OF THE BLAME FOR OIL PRICES, U SAY OIL PRODUCTION IS UP, U LIED. HOW CAN IT BE YOU SHUT DOWN MOST OIL DRILLING AND U REFUSED THE CANADIAN OIL PIPE LINE, YOUR A HIPOCRIT IF YOU THINK YOUR GOING TO GET MORE PEOPLE TO BUY ELECTRIC CARS, THEY DONT WANT IT. AND I DONT BELIEVE ABC, CBS, NBC OR THE OTHER LIBERAL STATIONS THAT SAY YOUR AHEAD IN THE POLLS. WHEN WILL WE EVER GET TRUTH OUT OF OUR GOVERNMENT, JUST REMEBER ITS NOT YOR COUNTRY its ours.
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