President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., pressed House Republicans on Thursday to agree to a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, even as Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted he was ready to negotiate.

During a White House speech, Obama expressed frustration with the standoff over extending this year’s 2-percentage-pont cut in Social Security and Medicare withholding taxes from 6.2 to 4.2 percent. He brought with him a group of people who had written in recent days to the White House Web site describing what they would have to sacrifice without the estimated $40 they would save on an average paycheck from the tax cut. They would save an estimated average of $1,000 per year, assuming an annual salary of $50,000 a year, if the payroll tax cut were extended. Obama noted that taxpayers had written to the White House about giving up trips to see ailing relatives, taking their children out for a pizza, and buying enough heating oil to keep their family warm in the wintertime.

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