White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Wednesday that President Obama is unalterably opposed to a health care bill that raises taxes on those making less than $250,000. But Gibbs would not draw a similar line in the sand when it came a bill that lacks a public insurance option.
NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd pushed Gibbs to explain why the White House, which has generally insisted that all good policy ideas are on the table, had been so firm on one pledge but not another.
The press secretary acknowledged that Obama had reiterated his commitment to not raise taxes on those making under $250,000 "just the other day." But when prodded for a similarly declarative statement on the public plan, he dodged.
"The president ... believes we should have choice and competition for people entering the private insurance market, in order to hold down costs and provide quality of the coverage, we have to have choice and competition," Gibbs said. "The president's preferred way is a public option. If there are others that have additional viewpoints or other ideas in policy... we are ready to hear it."
The White House has, over the past few days, insisted that the president remains committed to an insurance exchange that has choice and competition, and that a government-run option would best achieve that goal. But the White House's commitment to the public plan hasn't been anywhere near as firm as its stand against higher taxes.
Why was that the case? Todd pressed.
"I'm not going to get into ranking all those things," said Gibbs. "The president addressed that in here and I'm not going to get into ranking different priorities like the pre-season college football poll."