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Gibbs: You Don't Have to Have a Bill for Republicans to 'Hold it Hostage'

7:06 PM, Sep 30, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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So great are the powers of nefarious, progress-blocking Republicans that even in the vast congressional minority they can hold hostage bills that do not even exist:

TAPPER:  David Axelrod said something that the president has been saying for a long time, which is that Republicans are holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage.  I understand it, Democrats haven't introduced a bill in the Senate, and the Republicans have.  Wouldn't there have to be a bill that Republicans are threatening to block or blocking before anything is being held hostage?
  
GIBBS:  I don't know what bills have been introduced in the Senate.  Obviously, I think the -- the posture of -- I don't think the bill would have to be the existence of -- I mean, I think their rhetoric alone, from Senator McConnell and others, have been that the price of -- there's a $700 billion price tag on moving forward on the tax cuts for the middle class.  That's the tax cuts for the wealthy.
  
TAPPER:  So there doesn't have to be an actual...

GIBBS:  Well, absolutely.  And, you know, look, we -- I've said this -- it's now been a couple of weeks, obviously, but, you know, we -- we -- we agree on -- we agree on the middle-class part of this, or so they say.  Their price tag for the middle class was the $700 billion. We could have passed the middle class alone, provided some much needed certainty to -- to the economy and to middle-class families, and had -- still had plenty of time to debate the $700 billion price tag for -- for the other cuts.
  
TAPPER:  Why not do that?  Why not introduce the bill...
  
REPORTER:  Why not get Republicans on the record?
  
TAPPER:  ... and -- and force Republicans to filibuster that?
  
GIBBS: They were unwilling to do that.  They were unwilling to...
  
REPORTER: But who has the power to introduce the bill?

Gibbs goes on to explain to Jake Tapper, who is apparently unfamiliar with the true scope of GOP powers, that Republicans are simply using their jujitsu mind control to prevent Democrats from introducing a bill. Well, that, and the substantial number of Dems who are siding with Republicans against the president on this issue, and wish to extend all the tax cuts:                                                                   

GIBBS:  But -- but John Boehner said quite clearly on Sunday that he would go along with the middle-class stuff, right?  Then fury  rained down, and quickly we crawfished back over to, well, well, wait,
middle- class, it's going to -- the price for doing middle-class is tax cuts for the wealthy. And -- and we could have done middle-class.

TAPPER: Isn't the real problem the fact that there are Democrats who agree with the Republicans on the issue? There are 47 --                                                                                      
                                                                                                              
GIBBS:  I think we could have done middle class, but the Republicans weren't interested.                                                                  
                                                                                                                 
TAPPER: Yeah, but --                                                                 
                                                                                                               
REPORTERS: But the Democrats --                                                                 
                                                                                                                  
TAPPER: -- you don't need the support of the Republicans in the House to pass anything.                                                                          

And the conversation ends with a delightful "What are you? Chicken?" moment, leading Gibbs to nearly go all McFly in the briefing room. Well played, Bif Tapper.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Do you think it's responsible to wait until the lame-duck session to do this?                                                                      
                                                                                                               
GIBBS:  Do I think it's responsible to wait for the lame-duck session to pass the middle-class tax cuts?  No, I thought the Republicans were irresponsible and held the middle-class tax cuts hostage

TAPPER: So all they need to do is issue a press release and you guys will back off any fight?                                                                       
                                                                                                             
GIBBS:  I don't understand your question.                                     
                                                                                                                  
TAPPER: All they have to do is say, "The Republican Caucus is not going to support this," and Democrats will just say, "Oh, okay.  Well, then we're not even going to try."                                                    
                                                                                                               
GIBBS:  No.  Again, Jake, I'd -- you're making the existence of one piece of legislation the beginning or the end of this entire fight.  I think that's kind of a silly concept.                                                                                      

I've excerpted a lot of it because it's pretty entertaining, but watch or read the whole thing. Maybe it's time for Gibbs to take the advice of a certain vice president and "quit whining" until they've got his own party under control.

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