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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:25 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I know you're all looking forward to spending time with their families over the holidays, but we did have one last piece of business to finish up.  I said it was critical for Congress not to go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans, and I'm pleased to say that they've got it done.  So I want to thank all the members of Congress for ending the stalemate and making this happen.

Because of this agreement, every working American will keep their tax cut -- about $1,000 for a typical family.  And that’s  -- translates into an extra $40 or so in every paycheck.  Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work.  And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working, without drama, without delay, to reach an agreement that extends this tax cut as well as unemployment insurance through all of 2012. 

Last week, I said that this should be a formality, and that’s still the case.  So let’s make sure that we extend this tax break and unemployment insurance for a full year for our families, but also for our economy.  It’s the right thing to do because more money spent by more Americans means more businesses hiring more workers.  And that’s a boost for everybody, and it's a boost that we very much need right now.

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank my fellow Americans for bringing their voices to this debate.  I met with several here at the White House yesterday.  I really think it takes courage to believe that your voice can make a difference.  And I promise you, the American people, your voices made a difference on this debate.  Whether you tweeted or called or wrote, you reminded people in this town what this debate and what all of our debates should be about -- it’s about you.  It’s about your lives.  It’s about your families.  You didn’t send us to this town to play partisan games, and to see who’s up and who’s down.  You sent us here to serve and make your lives a little bit better; to do what’s right.  And fortunately, that’s how this week ended.

So this is some good news, just in the nick of time for the holidays.  I do want to be clear though:  We have a lot more work to do.  This continues to be a make-or-break moment for the middle class in this country, and we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves together -- Democrats and Republicans -- to make sure that the economy is growing, and to make sure that more jobs are created. 

We’ve got an economy that is showing some positive signs; we’ve seen many consecutive months of private sector job growth. But it’s not happening as fast as it needs to.  And that means that we’ve got to redouble our efforts, working together.  It also means that we’ve got to make sure we’re rebuilding an economy where if you work hard, that work will be rewarded; the kind of economy where everyone is doing their fair share and everybody plays by the same set of rules, everybody has a fair chance and everybody is acting responsibly, including those of us here in Washington.

So there are going to be some important debates next year, some tough fights, I’m sure, in the years to come.  But that’s the kind of country that I’m fighting for -- one where everybody has a fair chance and everybody is doing their fair share.  That’s the kind of country that I think the American people deserve and the kind of country that American people want. 

So I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, a happy New Year to you and your families -- and that includes everybody here in the press corps.  I know you guys have been working hard, and your families will be happy to spend a little more time with you over the next few days.

I also want to make sure to send the warmest holiday wishes to all the men and women in uniform who are serving overseas right now and may not have a chance to see their families during this holiday season.  We are grateful for everything that you do.

All right?  Thank you, guys.  Aloha.

1:30 P.M. EST