Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gibbs: Health Care and Obama's Tax Pledge

On September 12, 2008, Barack Obama was in Dover, New Hampshire, on the campaign trail.

He was talking taxes and he made a promise, a "firm pledge."

BARACK OBAMA: And 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.


On February 4, 2009, Obama broke that pledge when he signed a bill expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and increasing the federal excise tax on tobacco by a massive 156 percent.

Let's put that particular Obama tax hike and broken promise aside.

During yesterday's White House press briefing, Ed Henry and Major Garrett pressed Robert Gibbs about Obama's pledge not to raise the taxes of American families making less than $250,000.

Gibbs refused to say that Obama would not fund his health care plan by breaking the tax pledge he made on the campaign trail.


ED HENRY: Robert, I just wanted to ask about health care. Yesterday on ABC, David Axelrod was asked repeatedly about whether the President would veto any health reform bill that has a tax on people making -- a tax increase on anybody making under $250,000 per year. So I want to give you a chance, as well. (Laughter.) Will the President veto -- will the President veto any health bill that has a tax --

ROBERT GIBBS: We should get David down here. You know, here's what -- I think we get this question once a week, in some form or another. I think in many ways, Ed, what marks the difference between this health care effort and other health care efforts in the past is exactly what the President described -- a very large table with people sitting at it, trying to solve a problem that we've been working on for 40 years.

The good news is we're making significant progress, and all those people are still sitting at the table. We haven't drawn a lot of bright lines. We understand there's some flexibility on the part of Congress to work through some of these policy issues. And we're going to allow that process to continue to make -- that process to continue in order to make progress.

HENRY: That may be true, but the President on the campaign said that -- he made a flat pledge that he would not raise taxes on anybody making under $250,000. So is that pledge still operable?

GIBBS: Well, again, I think in some ways your question is hypothetical because there are any number of different bills, different proposals. I think the President has outlined what he believes is the very best way to pay for health care.

HENRY: It doesn't have to be hypothetical. He made a pledge --

GIBBS: I understand.

HENRY: -- he said, I am not going to raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000. Is that pledge still active?

GIBBS: We are going to let the process work its way through.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So it's not. (Laughter.)

GIBBS: We're going to let the process work its way through. All right?

You have that awfully perplexed look on your face, Mr. Garrett.

MAJOR GARRETT: Well, what would be the reason for reversing among the most conspicuous, if not the most conspicuous, campaign promise that this candidate Obama repeated everywhere across the country?

GIBBS: Well, I appreciate the indulgence to get into these hypothetical questions months before we're likely to do that. It is rich to watch the fact that we're making so little progress on health care reform that you've asked me if the President is going to sign the bill that's not at his desk. Let's --

GARRETT: We didn't ask you about signing the bill --

GIBBS: No, no --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And there's nothing hypothetical about reaffirming a campaign promise.

GIBBS: It is in the sense that we're not facing any sort of decision on this. We're letting Congress work many of these issues through. And we're making progress.

GARRETT: But, historically, administrations that make such conspicuous promises tell Congress, you can do this, this, and this, but don't go there because it's not something we're going to do.

GIBBS: And I think the President in his principles and in the $948 billion to finance health care reform has laid out pretty clearly what his financing mechanism would be. Which --

GARRETT: Then why not take the opportunity provided by Ed to reassure the American public that the campaign promise still stands?

GIBBS: -- any increase in revenue would affect top wage-earners' charitable deductions, returning them to the rates of the Regan administration.

Gibbs would not say that Obama's campaign promise not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 still stands.

That's because it doesn't.

First, as in the case with the tobacco tax, Obama has broken his pledge.

Second, Obama will break it again.


That pledge was a flat-out lie. Obama was willing to say anything to get elected.


Anonymous said...

No single politician can please everyone. Red or blue. Why waste your time complaining on the internet (the most annoying place to complain) on a blog (the most annoying word of this decade)? What makes you qualified? I don't disagree with you, I just don't understand why you waste so much time...

Mary said...

We're all "qualified" to express our opinions.

If complaints on the Internet and the word "blog" annoy you so much, I don't understand what you're doing.

Why do you spend your time reading what I wrote?