President Obama pressured Republicans to support an extension of the payroll tax cut on Wednesday, urging a Pennsylvania crowd to tell their representatives not to "be a Grinch.”

House Republican leaders earlier said they support extending the payroll tax and urged their rank and file to support it. But they want its cost to be offset with spending cuts.

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Obama didn’t note the GOP shift in his speech, which was similar to an address he gave last week in New Hampshire. Instead, he again criticized Republicans for being willing to protect tax rates for the rich while allowing the payroll tax to expire at the end of the year.

“What happened? Republicans said they’re the party of tax cuts,” he said, mentioning GOP resistance to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to fund his jobs legislation. “How is it they can break an oath when it comes to raising your taxes but not when it comes to wealthy people?”

Obama chided Republicans for signing “a pledge” not to raise taxes, without naming Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform tax pledge.


“Send your senators a message,” he said. “Tell them: Don’t be a Grinch. Don’t be a Grinch. Don’t vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the holidays. Make sure to renew unemployment insurance for the holidays.”

Obama was speaking to an audience at Scranton High School, making his eighth trip this year to Pennsylvania, a state critical to his reelection chances.

The payroll tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year.

Republicans have expressed concerns about the cost of the program, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSocial media never intended to be in the news business — but just wait till AI takes over Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Two-thirds of Americans support assault weapons ban: Fox News poll MORE (Ky.) on Tuesday signaled a shift by saying the GOP could support their extension. On Wednesday, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief This little engine delivers results for DC children MORE (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington GOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington MORE (R-Va.) joined him and urged their colleagues at a closed-door meeting to do the same.

Obama criticized Congress for defeating his jobs package earlier this year, but said they had a chance to “do the right thing” by passing the payroll tax cut expansion, which was included in the jobs bill.

“I’m already filled with the Christmas spirit,” Obama said, citing the nip in the air and sighting festive decoration. “I’m in the Christmas spirit. I want to give [Congress] another chance. I want to give them a chance to redeem themselves.”

Obama revved up the active crowd with what has become a mantra for his American Jobs Act: “Pass this bill.” Obama urged the crowd to contact their senators, pledging that as early as Friday, “we’re going to give them a chance to vote on these tax cuts.”

The Senate has not scheduled a vote on the payroll tax cut component of the American Jobs Act yet, but could debate it later this week.

Obama told the crowd that his promotion of expanding the payroll tax cuts proved he is not the “big tax-and-spend liberal” talked about on TV.

“Scranton, we’ve taken some punches these last few years,” Obama said. “We are tougher than the times. We are America. We don’t give up. We get up, we keep fighting.”

He went on: "Here’s the good news, Scranton. Just like you don’t quit, I don’t quit. I don’t quit. So I said, look, I’m going to do everything that I can do without Congress to get things done.”