Former Obama Spokesman Robert Gibbs Suggests Republicans are Holding Economy Hostage for 2012 Votes

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The Obama administration is ramping up rhetoric against House GOP members, suggesting Republican congressmen are deliberately holding up key economic legislation to improve their chances in the 2012 elections.

Administration adviser and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that House Republicans may want the economy to remain weak, thus increasing the likelihood of an anti-incumbent wave next November. At stake, he says, are bills to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, as well as measures to provide tax cuts to encourage hiring in certain industries.

"At some point you get to ask yourself, ‘Are they not dealing with these things because, quite frankly, they just don't want to see this economy get better because they want to see an election that might turn out better for them?'" Gibbs posited on NBC's "Today."

Gibbs, who left his Press Secretary post in February and now plays an as-yet undefined advisory role to the administration, echoed the sentiments of his former boss, who made a similar suggestion in Cannon Falls, Minn. Monday.

"There is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now. What is needed is action on the part of Congress, a willingness to put the partisan games aside and say, we're going to do what's right for the country, not what we think is going to score some political points for the next election," President Obama said.

Accusations of brinksmanship plagued the debt limit debate in July, despite calls from both sides for civility. Two Tea Party members challenged the president after his town hall meeting in Decorah, Iowa Monday on reports that Vice President Biden labeled Tea Party activists "terrorists."

Gibbs says Republicans will have to decide between the Tea Party ideology and the rest of the country to get the economy moving again.

"The Republicans are going to have to make a choice," he said. "Are they going to swear allegiance to the Tea Party, or are they going to work on behalf of the United States of America?"