White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stressed on Thursday that it essentially pointless to discuss whether President Obama will support or veto a temporary extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Congress, he implied, is likely to pass the president's preferred package: an elimination of those cuts with an extension of the tax rates for those making less than $250,000.
During an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America", President Obama refused on four separate occasions to commit himself to vetoing legislation that would temporarily extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy -- leaving the impression that he could in the end be willing to keep rates in place for a short period of time.
It's a moot point, said Gibbs. On "the question about veto," he emailed the Huffington Post, "our belief is that this never comes to that."
The confidence from the press secretary will be welcome news to those who see a full extension of the Bush tax cuts as a massive waste of federal funds. Obama himself made the argument during his ABC sit-down that there are much better uses for the $700 billion that will be lost if the tax cuts for the wealthy are extended. But in recent days the outlines of a compromise agreement have begun to emerge.
First there was former OMB Director Peter Orszag's column calling for a two-year freeze on the current rates. Then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office told the Huffington Post that the Kentucky Republican would be willing to talk about a temporary extension.
The math of the Senate may still result in the consideration of some compromise proposal. But by going on the record to predict that the president's veto pen won't be used, Gibbs is suggesting that the White House is confident that it will have the votes to get the outcome the president wants.