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In N.H., Obama Assails GOP on Jobs, Payroll Tax Cut

In N.H., Obama Assails GOP on Jobs, Payroll Tax Cut

By Alexis Simendinger - November 23, 2011


President Obama dusted off a phrase Tuesday in Manchester, N.H., that he last used during a prime-time speech to Congress in September. "Let’s meet the moment," Obama told a crowd of about 1,300 boisterous students and adults at Manchester Central High School.

Congress has not voted to support most of Obama’s recent economic recommendations -- either for new stimulus or a $3 trillion package designed to curb deficits -- so Obama ventured to New Hampshire for the first time since 2010 and accused Republicans of not meeting that moment when Americans and the economy still need Washington's help.

While the economy is growing and retailers are crossing their fingers for a healthy holiday season of consumer spending, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday that economic growth in the third quarter was revised downward to 2 percent from 2.5 percent originally reported in October. Third-quarter growth from July to September nevertheless exceeded the 1.3 percent rate reported for the second quarter.

With his standing in the Granite State weaker than it was in 2008, Obama timed his visit with January’s important New Hampshire GOP primary in mind. It coincided with front-runner Mitt Romney’s first TV ad, which assailed the president’s stewardship of the economy, using the words “he failed” along with a deceptively edited video clip pulled from an Obama campaign speech delivered in New Hampshire in 2008. In that speech, Obama quoted a comment from a campaign adviser to John McCain. Romney’s ad makers edited the videotape to suggest the comment reflects Obama’s own thinking.

The White House said Romney’s ad makers used “blatant dishonesty” in the attack ad, and Obama’s campaign team said the deception spoke volumes about the kind of presidential challenge Romney intends to wage next year.

In a state known for its antipathy to taxes, the president arrived a day after Congress’s super committee admitted defeat. The special panel failed to recommend deficit-cutting measures to the House and Senate, in part because of discord over proposals to raise taxes over the next decade as part of a larger set of proposals aimed at achieving $1.2 trillion in savings.

Signaling the next phase of his ongoing economic campaign, Obama said he will ask Congress in December to support extensions of a temporary payroll tax break and a renewal of unemployment insurance, both set to expire at the end of the year and both part of his jobs agenda. The president all but dared Republicans to reject an extension of an income boost now in place: tax relief for workers who pay into Social Security with each paycheck. Funds from the general treasury fill the gap in the trust fund.

“I know Republicans like to talk about ‘we’re the party of tax cuts,’ ” Obama said to cheers and a few jeers from about a dozen demonstrators sympathetic to Occupy Wall Street. “A lot of them have sworn an oath -- ‘We’re never going to raise taxes on anybody for as long as we live’ -- even though they have already voted against these middle-class tax cuts once,” the president continued. “But the question they’ll have to answer when they get back from Thanksgiving is this: Are they really willing to break their oath to never raise taxes, and raise taxes on the middle class, just to play politics?”

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Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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