President Obama is not vacationing in Hawaii with his wife and children while the extension of the payroll tax holiday remains in limbo, and has warned GOP congressional leaders to stay in town as well.
Obama had planned to fly to Hawaii with his family on Dec. 17 and stay there through New Year’s.
After getting ripped by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his vacation plans, Obama told Senate Democratic leaders Wednesday that he will stay in town until Congress finishes work on the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and other issues.
Obama told Democratic leaders: “Michelle and the girls are going to have a great time in Hawaii, they don’t need me there,” according to Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.).
Romney blasted Obama’s vacation plans on Monday.
“I just think it’s time to have a president whose idea of being ‘hands on’ doesn’t mean getting a better grip on the golf club,” Romney told potential caucus voters in Iowa.
Obama told leaders it would be unacceptable if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) adjourned for Christmas next week without extending a 2-percentage point reduction of the payroll tax.
A White House official disputed the notion that Obama had altered his vacation plans because of Romney’s criticism.
The official noted that Obama had already threatened to spend Christmas with Republicans in Washington if Congress failed to take action on payroll taxes.
“We’re going to keep pushing Congress to make this happen,” Obama said Friday. “Now is not the time to slam the brakes on the recovery. Right now, it’s time to step on the gas. We need to get this done. And I expect that it’s going to get done before Congress leaves. Otherwise, Congress may not be leaving, and we can all spend Christmas here together.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that he would be surprised if Congress left town for the Christmas break without extending the payroll tax rate.
“The president said himself quite explicitly that he, if necessary, will – I think the phrasing was, be here through Christmas,” according to a press report.