President Barack Obama says Congress' willingness to come together and prevent year-end tax increases makes him hopeful there will be more economic progress in 2012.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says a key reason lawmakers eventually forged an agreement to extend a Social Security payroll tax cut for two more months was the input from the public. He adds that he expects Congress to finish the job when lawmakers return to Washington in January by extending the payroll tax cuts through the end of the year.

The president also used the address to deliver a New Year's message, calling 2011 a year of great challenge and great progressfor the country. He noted the end of the war in Iraq, the death of Osama bin Laden and signs of economic recovery.

Obama says he's hopeful that Americans come out of whatever change 2012 brings even stronger, with more economic growth and job creation and a stronger middle class.

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia delivered the New Year's message in his party's weekly radio and Internet address.

Isakson says the GOP's No. 1 goal is to make it easier for small businesses to create jobs. He says Republicans will accomplish that by focusing on three things: "fundamental tax reform, regulatory reform and energy security."

Isakson says some people may think Congress will be too consumed with the 2012 elections to accomplish anything significant, but the public deserves better. He says Americans "cannot wait until after the November election" for lawmakers to do their job and "create an economic climate that makes it easier to put people back to work."


(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)