White House’s Robert Gibbs engages in his first Twitter battle — with Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes

Jon Ward | Contributor

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs signed up for a Twitter account in February, and since then has used the new medium to comment on current events, make announcements before the press is notified, and even break news.

On Thursday, he went for another first on Twitter, getting into a debate with conservative author Stephen Hayes, a Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard writer, over the administration’s economic policies. Below is a “transcript” of sorts of the exchange, which carried into Friday morning, and which ended with Hayes lobbying Gibbs to let him ask President Obama a question at the president’s White House press conference next Friday.

The exchange shows that even on a day when Gibbs is not taking questions from the press — he has developed a pattern of taking Friday off and skipping the regular daily briefing — he can still try to push out the administration’s message.

These tweets were captured around 11 a.m. Eastern, and since Twitter doesn’t archive the exact time a Tweet goes out, working back from that 11 a.m. time is the only way to get a sense of when Gibbs and Hayes went back and forth.

The exchange started when Gibbs noted a comment by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about the small business lending bill that is set to be taken up when the Senate returns for business in mid-September. Hayes responded by ridiculing the idea that the $30 billion bill will do very much to motivate businesses to spend money on expansion and job creation.

GIBBS: Mitch McConnell calls small business aid “itty-bitty” while small biz puts off hiring waiting for his help passing it http://bit.ly/9zTfKp – about 22 hours ago via web

HAYES: Does the WH seriously think that small businesses aren’t hiring b/c of a bill held up in Congress? Talk about a myopic, inside-DC view. – about 22 hours ago via web

GIBBS: ATTN @stephenfhayes http://bit.ly/9zTfKp about – 19 hours ago via web

HAYES
: Ask small business owners across the country if they’d rather have across-the-bd tax cuts or gov-backed loans @PressSec – about 19 hours ago via web

HAYES: NFIB Small Biz survey: 51% of small biz owners ID declining sales as top problem. 22% said “uncertainty.” 8% said access to credit @PressSec – about 19 hours ago via web

HAYES: NFIB survey: “Even among owners who report they cannot get credit, twice as many cite poor sales as cite credit access.” @PressSec – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES
: More NFIB: ‘Small bus owner responses make clear that the Admin and Cong nvr understood and still do not understand Main Street’s problem’ – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: More NFIB: “The problem is sales and to a lesser extent uncertainty. Access to credit is down the list tho it obviously is concern to many.” – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: More NFIB: Admin and Cong “knowingly initiated major destabilizing, policy changes in a deep, destabilizing recession.” – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES
: More NFIB: And rather than stimulate sales Admin/Cong ‘chose the ineffective route to increase small business access to credit’ (cont) – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: More NFIB: ‘by increasing the number and size of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans” – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES
: FYI — NFIB = National Federation of Independent Business. Report linked here http://bit.ly/d77JlY – about 18 hours ago via web

GIBBS: the facts @stephenfhayes there would be ZERO capital gains on small business investment, expand tax cuts for new equip investments – about 18 hours ago via web

GIBBS: so you oppose cutting taxes on and increasing loans available to small businesses?! – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: No, @PressSec, I’m for tax cuts (cap gains, payroll, income) so that small biz owners can spend their own $$ rather than seek loans from gov – about 18 hours ago via web

GIBBS
: the proposal cuts their taxes and helps them get loans through community banks…but all we ever get is no… – about 18 hours ago via web

GIBBS: 2 to 3% of small business would be impacted by high income tax rates – but all would have their taxes cut under small biz proposal – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: But @PressSec, raising taxes on high-income earners disproportionately affects small biz owners and that’s coming on Jan 1. – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: And @PressSec, even Pres Obama acknowledged that raising taxes in a recession “is the last thing you want to do.” – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: We’re not technically in recession (yet) but the recovery is dying, @PressSec. So an obvious question for POTUS (cont) – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: If it’s bad to raise taxes in a recession, is it wise to do so in a collapsing recovery w/an economy flirting with a double dip? @PressSec – about 18 hours ago via web

HAYES: Here’s POTUS intvw w/@chucktodd last August: “The last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession” (cont) @PressSec – about 17 hours ago via web

HAYES: POTUS continued: “because that would just suck up—take more demand out of the economy and put businesses further in a hole.” @PressSec – about 17 hours ago via web

HAYES: So @PressSec, if raising taxes in a recession wld “put businesses further in a hole” what would raising taxes in a stymied recovery do? – about 17 hours ago via web

HAYES: Come on @PressSec, I answered your questions. Answer just one of mine – about 17 hours ago via web

HAYES: If it’s bad to raise taxes in a recession, as POTUS says, wise to do so in collapsing recovery w/economy flirting w/a double dip? @PressSec – about 17 hours ago via web

GIBBS: Don’t be fooled – the economy added 67,000 private sector jobs,8th straight month of added private sector jobs, job loss came in Census work – about 2 hours ago via web

HAYES: Did the WH or @PressSec discount temporary census jobs when they boosted employment numbers? – about 1 hour ago via web

GIBBS: As a matter of fact @stephenfhayes the Pres specifically mentioned in June stmt Census jobs were temp and focused on private job growth – about 1 hour ago via web

HAYES: My question, @PressSec, was whether the WH discounted temp census jobs when they boosted employment numbers. In June, POTUS noted decline – about 1 hour ago via web

HAYES: So POTUS in June made the same point you made today — census jobs were temporary — to explain away the drop. @PressSec – about 1 hour ago via web

HAYES
: POTUS in June said report “reflected the planned phase out of 225,000 temporary Census jobs.” Was not discounting them when added. @PressSec – about 1 hour ago via web

GIBBS: @stephenfhayes (1/2) “I want to emphasize that most of these jobs this month that we’re seeing in the statistics… – about 1 hour ago via web

GIBBS: @stephenfhayes (2/2) “…represent workers who’ve been hired to complete the 2010 census” – about 1 hour ago via web

GIBBS: @stephenfhayes May report would have been biggest in more than 10 yrs – but obviously that wasn’t what we said b/c they were Census – about 1 hour ago via web

HAYES: Fair points, @PressSec. And POTUS talked abt May jobs report saying census hires were temp. http://bit.ly/cblhaf – about 1 hour ago via web

HAYES: If it’s bad to raise taxes in a recession, as POTUS says, wise to do so in collapsing recovery w/economy flirting w/a double dip? @PressSec – about 1 hour ago via web

GIBBS: @stephenfhayes To keep our econ going we must keep taxes low for middle class, not give tax breaks to millionaires when we can’t afford it – 27 minutes ago via web

GIBBS: @stephenfhayes I have enjoyed our tweets – shows that a good debate doesn’t have to be a nasty debate – 26 minutes ago via web

HAYES: But @PressSec, tax breaks aren’t for millionaires unless $200k in income makes you one. – 22 minutes ago via web

HAYES: And @PressSec IRS #s tell us a majority of those whose taxes will be going up report small business income – exactly ppl who generate jobs – 21 minutes ago via web

HAYES: I’m with you there, thx RT: @PressSec @stephenfhayes I have enjoyed our tweets – shows that a good debate doesn’t have to be a nasty debate – 19 minutes ago via web

HAYES: Hey @PressSec, would be eager to ask Pres Obama about these policy choices next Friday.

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Tags : barack obama internal revenue service jon ward larry summers national federation of independent business recession robert gibbs stimulus twitter unemployment white house
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