President Obama is committed to making sure middle class families do not see a tax increase, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday, one day after two top economic officials seemed to leave the door open to a tax hike.
"The president's clear commitment is not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year," Gibbs said, repeating Obama's pledge from the presidential campaign.
On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner suggested that taxes increases are inevitable.
"We will not get this economy back on track, recovery will be not strong and sustained, unless we ... can convince the American people that we're going to have the will to bring these deficits down once recovery is firmly established," Geithner said on ABC's "This Week."
Asked point blank whether it was right to suggest it is a matter of when, not if, taxes will be raised, Geithner responded, "It is absolutely right."
National Economic Council President Larry Summers also did not rule out future increases on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Gibbs, though, dismissed the comments Monday as part of a "hypothetical back and forth" that Geithner and Summers allowed themselves to engage in.
"Promising that everybody's going to be on message may be a bar that's too high for me to leap over," Gibbs said.
Peppered with reporters' questions on the topic, he repeatedly said that despite the Sunday comments the president has been "clear" that he intends to shield middle-class families from a tax hike.
"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," he said.
But some Republicans say Obama already has broken his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.
Republicans on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee on Monday released a list of six programs and proposals they claim would raise taxes on the middle class -- including the tobacco tax hike and proposals to include coverage mandates in health care reform legislation.
"After only six months as president, (Obama) and congressional Democrats have repeatedly violated this pledge" not to raise taxes on middle-class families, Republicans said in a memo.
The discussion over future tax increases comes as the deficit is expected to hit $1.8 trillion next year. With spending still planned for a $1 trillion, 10-year health care reform plan, officials say something will have to be done to keep the deficit and national debt from growing wider.
Gibbs said Obama is committed to cutting wasteful spending to help achieve that goal.