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Gibbs Says Obama Sticking To Commitment On Taxes

Robert Gibbs walked back the comments of top economic advisers that suggested the administration was open to broad-based tax increases, saying at his daily press briefing today that President Obama stands by promises he made in the campaign.

"The president was clear during the campaign about his commitment on not raising taxes on middle class families," he told reporters. "I don't think any economist would believe that in the environment we're in, raising taxes on middle class families would make any sense, and the president agrees."

Asked about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's and National Economic Council chief Larry Summers' seeming refusal to rule out such tax increases, Gibbs said that while he hadn't seen the comments, he thinks based on transcripts that "they allowed themselves to get into a little bit of a hypothetical back-and-forth."

"The president has made a very clear commitment to not raise taxes on middle class families, period," he repeated.

Asked how the administration could still follow through on some of its plans without new revenues, Gibbs said that the first priority is to restart the economy. Beyond that, "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 Congress wants to do." He identified a "half trillion" in health care savings the White House has identified, and smaller steps like the recent F-22 vote, as evidence of progress toward reducing the deficit.

Gibbs also reminded reporters that one of Obama's first acts was signing the Recovery Act, which included a tax cut for 95 percent of Americans, including "everybody in the middle class."

"For eight long years, the middle class had borne the brunt of bad economic policies," he said, noting that wages declined for the middle class in the past administration even as the economy grew.