"I am reiterating the president’s clear commitment” not to raise taxes on the middle class, Gibbs said. He repeated the definition of the middle class as families making less than $250,000 a year.
Gibb’s comments were an effort to shut off speculation about a possible tax increase raised on Sunday’s political talk shows by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers.
Off the reservation
Geithner said the White House was not ready to rule out tax hikes to reduce the budget deficit. “We are not at the point yet where we we’re going to make a judgment about what it is going to take," he said.
Summers said the president’s health care overhaul needs funding from somewhere. Since there can be unexpected events, Summers said, “it is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out, no matter what.”
When reporters asked why Geithner and Summers seemed to make comments at variance with the president’s position, Gibbs said the two men got into a “hypothetical back and forth.” He added that major economists feel it would “not make any sense” to raise taxes in the midst of a recession.