WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday thanked everyday Americans who wrote to Congress demanding an extension of the payroll tax cut.
"This got done because of you; because you called, you e-mailed, you tweeted your representatives and you demanded action. You made it clear that you wanted to see some common sense in Washington. And because you did, no working American is going to see their taxes go up this year," Obama said at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden by his side.
"Because of what you did, millions of Americans who are out there still looking for work are going to continue to get help with unemployment insurance."
Obama reminded Americans he called on Congress to pass the middle-class tax cut as far back as September, saying the action means $40 in the typical American family's paycheck.
"That $40 helps to pay the rent, the groceries, the rising cost of gas -- which is on a lot of people's minds right now," the president said. "… And more people spending more money means more businesses will be able to hire more workers, and the entire economy gets another boost just as the recovery is starting to gain some steam."
Obama said Congress "did the right thing" by listening to the voices of the American people.
"In the end, everyone acted in the interests of the middle class, and people who are striving to get into the middle class through hard work. And that's how it should be," he said. "That's what Americans expect, and that's what Americans deserve."
Obama urged Congress to "keep taking the action that people are calling for to keep this economy growing."
"This may be an election year, but the American people have no patience for gridlock and just a reflexive partisanship, and just paying attention to poll numbers and the next election instead of the next generation and what we can do to strengthen opportunity for all Americans," Obama said. "… There's a lot more we can do -- and there's plenty of time to do it -- if we want to build an economy where every American has a chance to find a good job that pays well and supports a family."
He urged Congress to pass his plan to "help responsible homeowners save about $3,000 a year by refinancing their homes, their mortgages, at historically low rates" and "make the Buffett rule a reality" by raising the tax rate on millionaires to at least 30 percent.
Investment guru Warren Buffett has famously said it makes no sense for him to pay a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, at his daily briefing with reporters, said the Buffet rule should be "a principle for overall individual tax reform" and the president "is calling on Congress to make it a reality within the reality of tax reform," whether that happens this year or beyond.
"This president believes that short of overall tax reform that the middle income tax cuts need to be extended and made permanent," Carney said. "That's long been his position. He is opposed to the extension again of the higher income tax cuts, which we simply cannot afford.
"And the president's overall approach to this is that -- is informed in part by the Buffett principle, by the Buffett rule that -- millionaires and billionaires should not be paying a lower effective tax rate than hardworking average folks out there."