The White House says it is confident Congress can find the votes this year to pass legislation extending the Bush tax cuts that does not include an extension of those cuts for the wealthiest Americans, something Republicans are calling for.
They are so confident, in fact, that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today there is no need for the president to consider vetoing any potential bill that would give in to the Republicans' preferences.
The Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year, and Mr. Obama has strongly urged Congress to extend them for all Americans, except for individuals making more than $200,000 or households making more than $250,000. Allowing the tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest 2 or 3 percent of Americans would save the country $700 billion, the president argues.
Republicans, meanwhile, are calling for aof all the tax cuts. Mr. Obama has for holding the middle class tax cut extension "hostage."
In spite of his strong language, Mr. Obama this week danced around the question of whether he would veto a bill from Congress that would temporarily expand all of the tax cuts.
In an interview with ABC that aired today, Mr. Obama simply said, "You can't have Republicans running on fiscal discipline that we're gonna reduce our deficit, that the debt's out of control, and then borrow tens, hundreds of billions of dollars to give tax cuts to people who don't need them."
Later this afternoon, Gibbs reiterated that point to reporters: "You can't be for cutting spending and then add $700 billion to the deficit," he said.
When pressed on whether the president would wield his veto pen against a full extension, Gibbs said, "I don't think legislation's going to come to the president's desk that he would need to veto."
He added, "I think a majority of those in Congress believe that we should, as the president does, extend tax cuts for the middle class and let the tax cuts for the wealthiest among us that we can't afford expire."
Republicans argue that a full extension is necessary in order to give small businesses more confidence. Democrats, however, maintain that very few small businesses would be impacted by the expiration of tax cuts for the wealthy.
Some, such as Peter Orszag, Mr. Obama's former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, have suggested that Democrats may need toand pass a temporary full extension of the cuts in order to get enough votes to pass anything at all.
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.