Obama: No reason government should shut down

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama says there is no reason for the government to shut down over Congress’ struggle on how to extend a payroll tax cut.

He said Congress “cannot and should not leave for vacation until they’ve made sure that a tax increase doesn’t happen.”

His remarks came as congressional leaders were sounding a more optimistic note Thursday that deals could be reached on a massive spending bill and on extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama have been pushing back against the idea of completing the year-end spending deal without action assured on unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut.

Without a spending deal by Friday or a temporary stop-gap measure, much of the government would shut down this weekend.