When George Stephanopoulos asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on ABC's "This Week," on Sunday about possibly raising taxes, Geithner responded, "We're going to have to do what it takes, were going to do what's necessary." When he was asked a follow up question Geithner continued "I think what the country needs to do is to understand we're going to have to do what it takes, we're going to have to do what's necessary."
On CBS's "Face the Nation," Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, provided his opinion on absolutes: "It's never a good idea to absolutely rule things -- rule things out no matter what." He would not confirm or rule out a tax increase instead noting that, "what the president has been completely clear on is that he is not going to pursue any of his priorities--not health care, not energy, nothing in ways that are primarily burdening middle-class families."
When White House Press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked on Tuesday if President Obama might go back on his promise of "no tax promise to the middle class," based on Geithner's and Summers' performance this weekend, Gibbs responded that Geithner and Summers, "allowed themselves to get into a little hypothetical back-and-forth."
Gibbs, of all people, should know that that is the purpose of a Sunday talk show -- to provide a bit of back and forth and get into the issues.
While campaigning in 2008, Obama repeatedly said there would be no new taxes for the middle class. Detailing this at a campaign event, he promised, "If you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increased by a single dime. Not your income tax. Not your payroll tax. Not your capital gains tax. No tax."
It will be interesting to see what happens. George H.W. Bush got in a bind when he tried to raise taxes once he became president, even though he had said, "Read my lips: No new taxes," in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination in 1988. This became a huge problem for him.
However, I am certain that the wordsmiths at the White House are already working. Instead of the mantras of the "inherited deficit" we will be hearing "like George H.W. Bush before me, I have come to understand that this was needed."
For those of us that are parents -- we know a real explanation and something that's just an excuse, a diversion and a distraction.
If taxes are increased, get ready for another version of "it's not me, it's him -- he did it first."