White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had to reaffirm his boss' pledge that taxes would not be raised on 95 percent of Americans, a day after two of the president's top economic advisers hinted that such hikes were on the table.
President Obama's promise was clear, "I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."
But during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the administration would have to do "what's necessary" in order to pump life back into the economy by reducing the federal deficit.
"Well, we're going to have to look at – we're going to have to do what's necessary," he said.
Meanwhile, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, in response to a question about the possibility of tax hikes, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that "It is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out, no matter what."
These two comments had Gibbs getting peppered with questions from the press corps about the possibility of Obama going back on his word.
"I'm going to deal with this and I'll do this one more time," said Gibbs. "The president was clear. He made a commitment in the campaign. That commitment stands."
Fittingly, this happened on the same day that it was reported that tax receipts suffered their greatest fall since 1932, with personal income tax receipts down 22 percent from a year ago and corporate income taxes down 57 percent. Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940, and Medicare taxes are on pace to drop for only the third time ever.
George Herbert Walker Bush famously declared, "Read my lips, no new taxes!" Of course he was also the last one-term president. More than coincidence? You decide.