"The president has made a very clear commitment to not raise taxes on middle-class families," clarified White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
During today's press briefing, Gibbs was peppered with questions about statements Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers made on the Sunday talk show circuit. Both hinted about possible future tax increases on the middle class families - a move that would go against a long standing Obama promise.
"I think that what the country needs to do is understand we're going to have to do what it takes," said Secretary Geithner when asked if he could rule out raising taxes on Americans earning less that $250 thousand a year, while simultaneously trying to cut the deficit. "We're going to do what's necessary."
"It is never a good idea to absolutely rule things, rule things out no matter what," said Summers when asked about funding for the president's proposed health care program.
"I think they allowed themselves to get into a little bit of a hypothetical back and forth," said Gibbs, defending the two top White House officials while also reiterating the president's tax pledge. "The president was clear during the campaign about his commitment on not raising taxes on middle-class families. And I don't think any economist would believe that in the environment that we're in raising taxes on middle-class families would make any sense. And the president agrees."
When pressed as to whether Geithner and Summers were testing the waters, Gibbs was firm, "I am reiterating the president's clear commitment in the clearest terms possible that he's not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year."