Senate approves extension of tax-cuts package

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(AP) - President Barack Obama's compromise tax dealwith Republicans - a package of cuts that would add nearly atrillion dollars to the U.S. debt - won approval in the SenateWednesday. The measure still faces stiff opposition in the House ofRepresentatives where Democrats see it as overgenerous to thewealthy. The compromise plan would spare Americans at every income levelfrom larger tax bills beginning Jan. 1. With opposition Republicans poised to take control of the Houseafter last month's landslide election victory, Obama had littlechoice but to drop his objections to an extension of lowerassessments on upper-income and wealthy Americans. Republicans hadvowed - with sufficient votes to carry out their promise - to letcuts for lower- and middle-income expire as well. By agreeing with Senate Republicans to extend lower rates forall Americans, he won their promise to back a 13-month extension ofjobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. The bipartisan deal marks a test of how Obama will governwithout his Democratic party in control of the House and with areduced majority in the Senate. His readiness to reachaccommodation with the opposition Republicans likely will set apattern for the final half his term leading into the 2012presidential election. Despite strong criticism from fellow Democrats, Obama has madepassage of the bill a key year-end priority, calling it essentialfor the economy as it struggles to recover from the worst recessionin decades. Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to pass the plan quickly. "I know there are different aspects of this plan to whichmembers of Congress on both sides of the aisle object. That's thenature of compromise," the president said before meeting withbusiness leaders. "But we worked to negotiate an agreement that'sa win for middle-class families and a win for our economy, and wecan't afford to let it fall victim to either delay or defeat." The measure - which amounts to a second stimulus package and isestimated to cost $858 billion - also cuts 2 percent from payrolltaxes, the assessment that goes to finance Social Security pensionpayments to the retired and disabled.

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