Obama Administration Officials Defend Health Overhaul
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says taxing the wealthy is one way to ensure that a proposed health care overhaul doesn't add to the federal deficit.
CNN: "More work is needed on proposed health care legislation to make sure that it doesn't add to the budget deficit, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday. Health Secretary Kathleeen Sebelius said it may be necessary to tax the wealthy to pay for health care reform.
Appearing on the NBC program 'Meet the Press,' Sebelius said a tax surcharge on wealthy Americans is 'a legitimate way to go forward.'
The taxes would start with people making $350,000" (7/19).
Associated Press: "Administration officials defended President Barack Obama's broad health care proposals on Sunday and urged a skeptical public not to judge the Democrats' overhaul until Congress writes a final version ... 'This is a work in progress,' Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, trying to calm nervous lawmakers whose re-elections could hinge on the legislation. 'More will be done. The House and the Senate are committed to working with the president to get this done'" (Elliott, 7/19).
CQ Politics reports that "Democrats were on the defensive Sunday against arguments that their health care overhaul could result in steep tax increases and rationed care as the government struggles to restrain costs and bring in enough money to pay the medical bills. Democratic proposals to raise revenue have included boosting taxes on the rich and taxing certain high-priced health benefits provided by employers.
Providing broader health coverage through a government-run program simply cannot be done without higher taxes of some kind, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel , D-N.Y., said on the CBS program 'Face the Nation.'
"'I don't see the executive branch being able to set the course if they can't raise the taxes,' said Rangel, who heads one of the committees responsible for writing the health bill in the House" (7/19).
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the White House budget director "on Sunday accused opponents in Congress of trying to kill off plans to overhaul U.S. healthcare but predicted each house would pass a bill in the next two to three weeks. 'There are those who are advocating delay just as a desperation move to try to kill this,' director Peter Orszag said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.
Asked on FOX News Sunday whether the House of Representatives and Senate would meet a target and pass a bill before the August recess, he said, 'I think the chances are high'" (Allen, 7/19).
New York Times: "One House bill would impose a surtax on high-income people and a payroll tax - as much as 8 percent of wages - on some employers who do not provide health insurance for workers. On Friday, the budget office's director, Douglas W. Elmendorf, said the bill would add $239 billion to the national deficit over 10 years, partly because of an increase in Medicare spending to avert sharp cuts in payments to doctors. Mr. Orszag said taking out those doctor payments with a new policy would make the bill "deficit-neutral" over 10 years. On Saturday, President Obama in a radio address said he would reject any health legislation that would increase the deficit. On "Fox News," Mr. Orszag reaffirmed that statement" (Henry, 7/19).