Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 12/22/2011 01:48:53 PM PST

House Republicans on Thursday folded to the demands of President Barack Obama, Congressional Democrats and fellow Republicans for a short-term extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.

The deal spares workers an average of $20 a week tax increase and the truncation of jobless insurance.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the standoff of the past week “may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world,” and dropped demands for immediate holiday season talks with the Senate on a full-year measure that all sides said they want.

Ontario resident Norma Lopez, who depends on unemployment benefits to help her and her family as she searches for a job, breathed a sigh of relief.

“It’s great news,” Lopez said. “It gives me time to make my payments on time. At least I don’t have to panic.”

Tracy Walinga of Rancho Cucamonga, who is also on unemployment insurance, praised the compromise.

“The only thing that would be better right now is to have a job, but to have unemployment (insurance) continue for us, is going to allow us to stay in our homes. It’s not that people are not out there looking. We need to do something with our economy to get jobs stimulated. None of us want to be in this position but we are.”

Unemployed Ontario resident Philip Rodman, who has been relentlessly searching for a new job since 2008, expressed disappointment over the “gamesmanship” in Washington.

“Some of these people are unemployed and looking for work, and so many people are on the verge of losing homes and things like that,” Rodman said. “It shouldn’t have come to this. It shouldn’t have come to this just for them to say `yes, we’re going to help people.’ That’s supposedly the reason they’re in office.”

House Republicans were under fire from their constituents and GOP establishment figures incensed that they would risk losing the tax cut issue to Democrats at the dawn of the 2012 presidential and congressional election year.

“Apparently, the Republicans realized that they were about to suffer severe political damage and pulled back before things got worse,” said Jack Pitney, Claremont McKenna College political science professor.

“It’s surprising that they caved so quickly, but, apparently, the Republicans looked in the mirror, saw the Grinch, and didn’t like it.”

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