WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama signed the payroll tax cut extension into law Wednesday, notching an election-year victory and rare bipartisan agreement in the continuing partisan battle over jobs, taxes and debt.
The $143 billion measure that Congress passed overwhelmingly on Friday continues the 2 percentage-point reduction in the tax that funds Social Security, a cut begun last year to aid the nation’s struggling economic recovery. It also extends jobless benefits for between 63 weeks and 73 weeks, and averts a big cut in the reimbursements doctors get for treating Medicare patients.
The president signed the measure without ceremony Wednesday, having already celebrated its passage at an event Tuesday at the White House.
Obama senior adviser David Plouffe emailed his gratitude to people who sent the White House their stories about how losing the tax cut would affect their lives.
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“Extending the payroll tax cut was a critical step for middle class families, but we still have a lot more work to do. So get ready,” Plouffe wrote in an email that included a photograph of Obama signing the bill at his Oval Office desk.
The payroll tax cut became a centerpiece of the jobs plan Obama unveiled in September — and of a re-election strategy that seeks to cast his GOP foes as protectors of the rich and out of touch with the worries of working families.
The administration estimates that for a worker earning $50,000 a year, the tax holiday means $80 a month in extra take-home pay. For better-paid employees, the bonus could total $2,200 a year.