(CNN) - Given another chance to clarify remarks about extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a White House adviser refused to discuss a possible compromise during Congress' lame duck session.
But Senior Adviser David Axelrod left the door open for discussion with Republicans on a temporary extension deal.
Axelrod said the administration's priority was to renew tax cuts for the middle class, now set to expire at the end of this year. He also said the country could not afford to permanently extend tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 a year.
But when pressed by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, Axelrod did not expressly rule out temporarily extending tax cuts for all Americans.
"I'm not going to negotiate with you on this program," he told Wallace.
Axelrod caused a flurry last week when he seemed to suggest the White House was ready to concede to Republican demands on extending tax cuts for the wealthy.
"We have to deal with the world as we find it," he told The Huffington Post.
But in South Korea, President Obama sharply denied that suggestion.
"That is the wrong interpretation because I haven't had a discussion with Democratic or Republican leaders," Obama said.
Axelrod echoed his words Sunday.
"I'm telling you what the president's position is," Axelrod said on NBC's Meet the Press. "We need to move forward on the middle class tax cuts. We cannot afford a permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which would cost us $700 billion that we don't have over the next 10 years."