The White House briefing on Monday was a ritual in many ways, as the assembled reporters tried to get the White House Press Secretary to say something that he was just never going to say in front of a microphone.
The “something” was whether or not the White House was backing off of the President’s 2008 campaign pledge not to raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 per year.
The reason that’s being discussed is that Obama Administration officials have raised the possibility of taxing employer provided health care benefits as a way to raise money to pay for health care reform.
Some plans bubbling up out of the Congress would tax only a portion of those benefits, but it still might hit people making less than 250k.
But try as hard as they might, the press corps couldn’t get Robert Gibbs to bite.
“We’re going to let Congress do its job, we’re going to let the President do his job. We’re going to make progress on health care reform,” said Gibbs, who clearly enjoyed the back and forth, which he compared to Wimbledon “without the grass courts.”
“We are going to let the process work its way through,” Gibbs said to one of the many health care related questions on Monday.
The President will hold an online town hall meeting in Virginia on Wednesday dealing with health reform, as he tries to keep the heat on Congress to produce a bill.
Let’s face it – if you think finding a deal on climate change legislation was difficult – it’s not any easier when it comes to the fine print of the health care reform bill.
Especially when it comes to raising taxes.
When Congress returns to work next week, we’ll see just how much work they got done during the week long Congressional break.
If it is characterized as “not much,” then it could be a long month for Democrats, with lots of closed door meetings as key lawmakers try to hash out a health care deal.
But after watching the White House and Democratic leaders forge a deal on the Cap and Trade bill with all kinds of late deals, don’t count out health reform.