Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 8/3/2009

Aug 3, 2009 2:16pm

There were a lot of questions today about the comments on Sunday chat shows by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (on our own This Week with George Stephanopoulos) and National Economic Council chair Larry Summers that seemed indicate the door was open for possible middle class tax increases. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Geithner and Summers had “allowed themselves to get into a little bit of a hypothetical back and forth.”

TAPPER:  Robert, in terms of what Geithner and Summers had to say yesterday, it really wasn't too much of a hypothetical back-and- forth.  It was about do they think it's possible to do deficit reduction.  But that's not…

GIBBS:  Well, we can quibble about whether the word "possible" or the word "hypothetical"…  
  
TAPPER: Is it possible to do everything the president wants to do without increasing revenues from the middle class?
  
GIBBS:  Right.  And I want to just state again clearly here that the president has made a very clear commitment to not raise taxes on middle-class families…
  
TAPPER:  But economists, including the president's own economists, don't necessarily think that it's possible to do so without raising taxes on the middle class.  How is that dealing candidly with the American people?
  
GIBBS:  Well, again, there are a series of things that have to be done.  I think you'll actually hear an announcement from Treasury later this afternoon about how much money has to be borrowed versus what they thought was going to have to be borrowed and what will have to be borrowed as a result of financial stabilization in terms of cutting the amount of money that's needed. Again, I think the president has been clear on this.  The first thing that we can do — the most important thing that we can do right now is get our economy growing again.  We know that the deficit — part of the reason that the deficit is up right now is that the economy has slowed down so much that tax revenues, because this is what happens in an economic slowdown, have regressed a lot. I think the president — obviously, we're going to have to make some decisions down the road on some of the president's legislative priorities and some of the things that Congress wants to do, to evaluate how we move back towards — on a path toward fiscal sustainability.

-jpt

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