WASHINGTON (AP) -President Barack Obama signed into law a huge, holiday-season tax bill extending cuts for all Americans on Friday, saluting a new spirit of political compromise as Republicans applauded and liberals seethed. The benefits range from tax cuts for millionaires and the middle class to longer-term help for the jobless.
The most significant tax legislation in nearly a decade will avert big increases that would have hit millions of people starting in two weeks on New Year's Day.
Declared Obama: ''We are here with some good news for the American people this holiday season.''
''This is progress and that's what they sent us here to achieve,'' Obama said as a rare bipartisan assembly of lawmakers looked on at the White House.
The package retains Bush-era tax rates for all taxpayers, including the wealthiest Americans, a provision Obama and congressional liberals opposed. It also offers 13 months of extended benefits to the unemployed and attempts to stimulate the economy with a Social Security payroll tax cut for all workers.
At a cost of $858 billion over two years, the deal contains provisions dear to both Democrats and Republicans.
Dramatic both as an economic and a political accomplishment, the agreement sets the stage for Obama's new relationship with Congress in the aftermath of a midterm election wave that devastated Democrats and stripped them of control of the House.