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Robert Gibbs Dukes It Out On Twitter With Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs certainly isn’t shy when it comes to calling out his critics in the press — and now he’s using Twitter to do so too. Most White House Twitter accounts usually stick pretty closely to White House talking points and rarely engage with critics, but Gibbs today engaged in an unusually heated back-and-forth argument with Weekly Standard writer & Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes regarding this morning’s jobs report and tax cuts, all in bite-sized 140 character posts.  Transcript of the spirited debate below:

It began last night:

StephenFHayes: So @PressSec, if raising taxes in a recession wld “put businesses further in a hole” what would raising taxes in a stymied recovery do?

StephenFHayes: Come on @PressSec, I answered your questions. Answer just one of mine

PressSec: ATTN @stephenfhayes http://bit.ly/9zTfKp

PressSec: the facts @stephenfhayes there would be ZERO capital gains on small business investment, expand tax cuts for new equip investments

PressSec: so you oppose cutting taxes on and increasing loans available to small businesses?! the proposal cuts their taxes and helps them get loans through community banks…but all we ever get is no…

PressSec: 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

And then, they resumed this morning:

PressSec: 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

StephenFHayes: Did the WH or @PressSec discount temporary census jobs when they boosted employment numbers?

PressSec: As a matter of fact @stephenfhayes the Pres specifically mentioned in June stmt Census jobs were temp and focused on private job growth

StephenFHayes: My question, @PressSec, was whether the WH discounted temp census jobs when they boosted employment numbers. In June, POTUS noted decline

StephenFHayes: So POTUS in June made the same point you made today — census jobs were temporary — to explain away the drop. @PressSec

StephenFHayes: POTUS in June said report “reflected the planned phase out of 225,000 temporary Census jobs.” Was not discounting them when added. @PressSec

PressSec: @stephenfhayes (1/2) “I want to emphasize that most of these jobs this month that we’re seeing in the statistics…

PressSec: @stephenfhayes (2/2) “…represent workers who’ve been hired to complete the 2010 census”

PressSec: @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

StephenFHayes: While we’re at it, can I get an answer to this one from yesterday @PressSec?

StephenFHayes: 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

PressSec: @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

PressSec @stephenfhayes I have enjoyed our tweets – shows that a good debate doesn’t have to be a nasty debate.

“A good debate doesn’t have to be a nasty debate” — pick your punchline here, considering the news lately (cough Mosque cough). But more importantly, who won? Decision: Gibbs. Once he was in he was all in, coming back with tweet after tweet (usually annoying in such exchanges, but Hayes did goad him at the top). Gibbs’ points on census jobs causing the drop in numbers and his point about relief for small businesses were both right. (A good debate also has actual facts.) Extra points for linking to the neutral ground of USA Today — and even more points for doing it all in public, transparently, so the rest of us could see. Well done to both combatants.

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