Obama urges bipartisan support — for his agenda

Fresh off a political victory from the extension of the payroll tax cut, President Barack Obama delivered a time-honored political message on Tuesday that might be paraphrased this way: Now is the time for all Americans to set aside their differences and do what I want.

The president wasn't quite so blunt, of course. But at a White House celebration of the payroll tax cut deal, flanked by workers who stand to benefit to the tune of $40 per paycheck, he pushed the polarized Congress to close ranks behind now-familiar parts of his election-year agenda.

"My message to Congress is: Don't stop here. Keep going," Obama urged.

Part of the president's message was that the parties can unite, even in a campaign year. Another was that he has delivered on promises to help working- and middle-class Americans--an apparent response to fierce Republican criticism of his stewardship of the economy.

"For the typical American family, it is a big deal," Obama said of the payroll tax cut extension. "That $40 helps to pay the rent, the groceries, the rising cost of gas."

Obama made the case for parts of his stalled jobs package and for items in his State of the Union address, including helping homeowners who are struggling with mortgages they can't afford, paving the way for small business owners to get much-needed capital, boosting exports, and reward firms that hire in the United States rather than overseas.

And the president pushed for adoption of the so-called "Buffett rule," named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, aimed at ensuring that people who make more than $1 million per year pay at least 30 percent of their incomes in taxes.

Congressional Republicans leaders have roundly rejected that proposal, denouncing it as an example of alleged "class warfare" against an investor class that they say is critical to spurring job growth.

House Republicans, who blame the Democratic-controlled Senate for stalling legislation they say would bolster the slumping economy, plan to bundle together a series of bills designed to help small businesses and backed by robust bipartisan majorities.

They include a proposal that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee by a 54-1 margin and others that passed the full House by lopsided margins of 413-11, and 421-1.

But Republicans don't seem that optimistic about the prospects for passage in the Senate.

"I just think Senate Democrats are trying to help the White House narrative that we are good-for-nothing scoundrels," a House leadership aide told Yahoo News on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly.

Olivier Knox is the White House correspondent for Yahoo News.

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