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Obama aide: Republicans playing politics on taxes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House accused House of Representatives Republicans on Sunday of playing politics with the fate of the payroll tax cut and warned that Americans could face a "devastating" tax hike if Republicans do not act.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has distanced himself from a two-month extension to the payroll tax cut passed in the Senate by Democrats and many fellow Republicans.

"If House Republicans refuse to pass this bipartisan bill to extend the payroll tax cut, there will be a significant tax increase on 160 million hardworking Americans in 13 days that would damage the economy and job growth," said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior aide to President Barack Obama.

Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said the House "should pass the two-month extension now to avoid a devastating tax hike from hitting the middle class in just 13 days."

"It's time House Republicans stop playing politics and get the job done for the American people," he said.

Boehner told NBC's "Meet the Press" program he opposed the Senate legislation because it would renew the tax cut for only two months. He said that would amount to "kicking the can down the road."

His comments prompted Democrats to accuse Boehner, who had faced a rebellion among rank-and-file Republican lawmakers to the payroll tax cut extension, of reneging on a deal.

(Reporting By Caren Bohan)

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