President Obama: “This is Good News”

For weeks, President Barack Obama and Democrats have pressed Congress to come to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012. This afternoon, that’s exactly what happened. This afternoon House Republicans agreed to extend the payroll tax cut, extend unemployment benefits, and restore Medicare payments.

In a statement, the President praised the good news:

“For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test. Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 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 to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.

“This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs.  This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference” President Obama said.

What $40 Means to Americans Across the Country

When the Senate voted to extend the payroll tax cut over the weekend, the bill got support from 89 Senators. That doesn’t happen all that often — most ideas just aren’t that popular. So why can’t this one get a vote in the House of Representatives? President Barack Obama calls on Republican members of the House of Representatives to negotiate a compromise on extending the payroll tax cut, which already has broad bipartisan support, because the American people can’t afford to see their taxes go up next year.

If Republicans in the House of Representatives fail to extend the payroll tax cut in the next nine days, the typical family making $50,000 a year will have about $40 less to spend or save with each paycheck. Over the year, that adds up to about $1,000.

Opponents of the payroll tax cut dismissed its impact by insisting $40 isn’t a lot of money. We know that’s not the case for many families who are already working hard to make ends meet, so on Tuesday, the White House asked them: What does $40 mean to you?

The response to the White House was overwhelming: more than 30,000 people have submitted responses through since Tuesday afternoon, and thousands more tweeted what $40 meant to them with the hashtag #40dollars. Responses came from all over the country and all 50 states. Click here to read some of those responses, and don’t forget to share your own story here.

Health Reform: Great News for Seniors

As we near the end of 2011, there’s some great news about how the Affordable Care Act has helped seniors this year. By closing the Medicare “doughnut hole” for prescription drug coverage and offering free preventive care, millions of seniors have seen real savings on their health care.

Watch the video above to see all the ways health care reform is working for seniors, and share it with your friends and family.

December 22: News Roundup

A new study reveals that immigrants founded over half of the top U.S. start-up ventures. There’s more at ThinkProgress.

Republican tax hike could do lasting damage to GOP. There’s more at the Washington Post.

The do-nothing Congress blows out of town. There’s more at the Los Angeles Times.

Tea Party Congressmen double-down on tax hike. There’s more at Politico.

Dissension mounts among GOP members of Congress over House Republican tax hike. There’s more at CNN.

Karl Rove says Republicans blew it. There’s more at TPM.

How will Americans be hurt by the Republican tax hike, cutoff of unemployment, and cut to Medicare payments? The Washington Post spells it out in a graphic.

In the latest polling, Ron Paul overtakes GOP field in Iowa. There’s more at the Wall Street Journal.

Ron Paul storms out of CNN interview over questions about his racist newsletter. There’s more at TPM.

Newt Gingrich tells gay Iowan to vote for Obama. There’s  more at ThinkProgress.

Mitt Romney waffles on health mandates again. As of Wednesday he supports them. There’s more at The Hill.

The Economist takes on Mitt Romney’s latest stump-speech nonsense and false attacks on the President. There’s more at the Economist.

Over Republican objections, Arizona redistricting heads toward its final lap. There’s more at Roll Call.

Texas schools face a critical funding crisis. There’s more at NPR.

Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) says mercury poisoning is OK for babies. There’s more at ThinkProgress.

And finally, the latest news from the Taos area ski resorts: Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson will announce he’s seeking the Libertarian Party nomination next week. There’s more at Politico.

Protecting American Families and the Environment from Mercury Pollution

President Barack Obama announced new standards Wednesday that will cut mercury emissions from oil and coal-fired power plants by 90 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the first-ever national standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions – like arsenic, acid gas, and cyanide – from power plants, which are the largest sources of this pollution in the United States.

This crucial step forward will bring enormous public health benefits. By substantially reducing emissions of toxic pollutants that lead to neurological damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses, and other serious health issues, these standards will benefit millions of people across the country, but especially children, older Americans, and other vulnerable populations. Cumulatively, the total health and economic benefits to society could reach $90 billion each year.

When fully implemented, these new standards will, on an annual basis, help prevent:

  • Up to 11,000 premature deaths;
  • 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis;
  • 4,700 heart attacks;
  • 130,000 asthma attacks;
  • 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and
  • 540,000 days when people miss work or school.

At the end of the day, President Obama and Democrats believe that Americans have waited long enough for these common-sense standards and that it is now time to do what is right for the country.