"Read my lips: No new taxes."
That famous phrase from George H.W. Bush came as he accepted his party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Committee convention in 1988.
At the time, it was exactly the red meat Republicans were looking for. But campaigning and governing are two very different things.
Bush was elected as the nation was slipping into a recession. When confronted with a growing national deficit, he had to find a source of revenue.
That revenue came in the way of raising taxes, a move that especially rankled members of the GOP and became an issue for Democrats to run on in 1992. Democrat Bill Clinton was swept into the White House.
Pushing forward to 2009, another president may have trekked onto the same territory.
On Monday, the White House sought to shoot down concerns that middle-class families may face a tax increase in order to combat rising deficits and a struggling economy after its two top money men floated the idea that tax increases to fund the nation's economic recovery could extend beyond the wealthiest Americans.
"The president was clear during the campaign about his commitment on not raising taxes on middle-class families," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday afternoon. "I don't think any economist would believe that, in the environment that we're in, that raising taxes on middle-class families would make any sense."
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, said Sunday that they could no longer guarantee that the middle class will be spared a tax increase.
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What say you? Will Obama's tax pledge be the trap that defines his presidency?