President Obama speaks in the White House's Brady Briefing Room on Tuesday. Behind the president, a ticking clock counts down the time until taxes will go up if Congress can't reach an extension deal on payroll tax cuts. Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP hide caption

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Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota says the "millionaires surtax" would hurt small-business owners' ability to hire new workers. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press hide caption

itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Job seekers waited in line to meet with recruiters at a job fair in Park Ridge, Ill., last month.

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itoggle caption Scott Olson/Getty Images