One day before Christmas Eve and President Obama can jet off to join his family in Hawaii for their holiday vacation. On Friday he signed the payroll tax cut extension, which was finally passed by Congress with a rare concession by House Republicans. According to the Boston Globe, only a handful of politicians had remained in Washington with the President to see the agreement through. The rest had left as an informal decision had already been made to let the 60-day extension through. The holiday timing certainly forced the hand of the typically stalwart GOP.
This piece of legislation will extend tax cuts for 160 million Americans who are working, but it also lends a cushion to those who have been out of work. Unemployment benefits will continue as well. For the people this means a little extra money, or at least a continuation of what was already in place. For the President, it is a political victory, although not a large one. It does put him in a position to start the New Year as the man in charge, rather than the passive leader that he has been in the past. For the Republicans it is a loss if agreeing with anything that Obama does is a loss. On the other hand, showing that they are willing to support the working class and the unemployed, even if it is only with a temporary extension, can’t be that bad politically, can it?
So, how much is the payroll tax cut extension worth to the average joe? About $20 a week. That’s enough to pay for a few gallons of gas. For 2 million people who are relying on jobless benefits, it means about $300 a week. This is make or break money for those who have been out of work. Hopefully the economy moves in a positive direction with holiday spending over the next few weeks so some of the unemployed can become employed. The tax bill, called a gimmick by one Tea Party freshman, is only set to last for two months.