Rangel: Last Week’s Presidential Address Is Complicating Efforts To Finalize Health Overhaul Legislation
House Democrats tried Tuesday to reframe the debate over health care legislation. Meanwhile, a key House committee chairman says that some of the president's proposals from last week's health care speech are complicating efforts to finalize House legislation.
The Associated Press reports: "Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York says House Democrats would have to slash subsidies to the poor to get their bill to the $900 billion, 10-year price tag Obama specified. Rangel also noted that the president didn't mention the new income tax on the wealthy that House Democrats want to use to pay for their bill, favoring a different approach instead."
The AP reports: "House Democratic leaders summoned a panel of friendly witnesses [Tuesday] to a public hearing on Capitol Hill where they solicited testimonials aimed at dispelling opposition to their legislation. The House Democrats' bill took a beating during the August recess after passing three committees without a single Republican vote. ... Later Tuesday, House Democrats were to meet with top presidential adviser David Axelrod as they seek to regain momentum and quiet concerns in their own caucus about for President Barack Obama's top domestic priority. .... Meanwhile, all eyes were on the Senate Finance Committee. Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., intends to release a bill Wednesday after months of closed-door talks, and he's still holding out hope for a bipartisan compromise. If that's achieved it would be the only bipartisan bill out of five proposals in the House and Senate and could mark a significant turning point for Obama's health care agenda" (Werner, 9/15).
Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones also reports on Rangel's concerns: "'I have to admit the restrictions that the president has given in his speech, as well as the proposed discussions in the Senate, has caused us more problems than among our three bills,' Rangel said."
Rangel raised concerns about the price tag for legislation, which Obama has put at $900 billion over 10 years and Senate Finance negotiators have put at less than $880 billion. "Of Obama's proposed cost for the bill, Rangel said 'that's $100 billion short.' He warned that trimming down the overall cost of the bill would result in reductions to proposed subsidies for low and middle-income people to purchase health insurance" (Yoest, 9/15).