President Barack Obama signed a bill Friday that will extend the payroll tax cut by two months and continue unemployment benefits, prompting some criticism of House Republicans from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. NY1’s Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
President Barack Obama’s signature saved 160 million Americans from a tax increase in the New Year.
"This is some good news just in the nick of time for the holidays," said Obama.
It's good news for almost two million Americans looking for jobs, as well. It extends unemployment benefits for two months. It also prevents cuts in Medicare payments to doctors.
"It's not always easy to do the right thing," said House Speaker John Boehner.
House Republicans, specifically Tea Party Republicans, held up the deal for a week. They wanted it to last longer than two months and wanted to find savings to pay for its costs.
"This agreement will help our economy," said Boehner.
They were able to wring one big concession from Obama on a separate issue. The bill forces the president to make a decision within two months on construction of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, said Republicans came out on the losing end of this battle.
"They got themselves outfoxed and on the wrong side, boxed in, and Boehner cut his losses," said Bloomberg.
"I was just very puzzled as to what planet the House Republicans were on," said Robert Shapiro, a political science professor at Columbia University.
Shapiro said Republicans actually started out voting against a tax cut, the opposite position one might expect from them.
"They had an easy out on this. They could have gone along with it, criticized the administration, wished everyone a merry Christmas, and gone home and then come back to work," said Shapiro.
The payroll tax means $40 per paycheck for average Americans—a tough issue to turn into a political football. Some call it a Republican fumble, and Shapiro said GOP presidential hopefuls should not pick it up.