May 17th, 2009
10:59 AM ET
12 years ago

Orszag: Health care reform won't increase the deficit

WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House Budget Director Peter Orszag offered a window Sunday into President Obama’s ambitious plans to reform the nation’s health care system while dealing with record budget deficits and the nation’s struggling economy.

“We have always said health care reform has to be deficit-neutral over a five- or ten-year window,” Orszag said on CNN’s State of the Union when asked whether the White House might take on higher deficits in order to fund one of the president’s big domestic agenda items.

“And then much better than that over the long term. So we are very committed to making sure that health care reform is self-financing and also brings down costs over time both for families and for the federal government. So you are not going to see a deficit-increasing health care reform.”

Obama’s budget guru refused to say whether the president would sign a health care reform legislation that included a provision taxing employer-provided health care insurance benefits as one means of helping to finance health care reform.

“It was not in the president’s campaign plan, it wasn’t in our budget. Clearly there are some members of Congress who are putting it on the table. We’re going to have to let this play out,” said Orszag said

Orszag also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that the president’s $787 billion stimulus package is beginning to have an effect as money is flowing out of the federal government to states and cities. “We’ve obligated $100 billion,” Orszag said, “we’re running at about $1 billion a day now.”

“At the same time, we want to make sure that the money goes out for real projects that will help boost the economy and not for swimming pools and things that are not the intended purposes. So, quickly and wisely is the balance.”

Although Orszag told King that the White House plans to update its budget projections to account for the continuing recession, Obama’s budget director was upbeat overall about the economy.

“The free fall in the economy seems to have stopped .. . .There’s some glimmers of sun shining through the trees but we’re not out of the woods yet. We do have more work ahead.”

Filed under: Economy • Health care • Peter Orszag • State of the Union
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. RR

    yeah, just like Obama was going to give the public five days to review any bill before he signed it, he was going to go through the budget line by line, he was going to end military tribunals, release detainee photos, and other broken promises.

    if you believe this, i have some ocean front property in Oklahoma going cheap!

    May 17, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |

    i love all these glamourous predictions that it won't increase the defecit with no real fact. Here's what will actually happen.

    1- a public plan if instituted will force private insurers (and the 160 million that benefit from them) from the market within 5 years. They won't be able to compete with a public plan that doesn't:

    a-advertise (5%)
    b-pay insurance brokers (5%) good luck getting claims paid correctly by the government
    c-tell providers what they'll be paid MEDICARE STYLE (10%)

    that's 20% difference that all private insurers can't compete with. Once doctors and hospitals are squeezed and don't have private insurance to fall back on to require increases in their costs, there won't be enough doctors and rationing will begin. Also the quality of doctors will decrease severely, even moreso than in the past 10-20 years.

    Then Americans will be forced to go overseas (ala Farrah Fawcett) to get any major specialty treatment. If you don't have her $$$ you're out of luck.

    May 17, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. Randall in Torrance - Proud NAVY VETERAN - Welcome to the end of the era of dumb ass republicans in power

    America needs to enact health care NOW for all Americans. The Republicans have blocked the most essential and basic of all human rights for way too long. This should not be debatable. Bush is gone forever. Obama is at the helm. Why should being healthy be a benefit for only Americans with enough cash to afford these ridiculus health care plans? This is like trying to control breathing clean air. If Republicans had their way, breathing would be a commodity that only those with enough money could afford. End this insane business practice of making hugh profit off f the sick.

    May 17, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Does this fellow think anyone believes him on this point? Medicare costs will bankrupt that fund much sooner than expected, and Social Security must be fixed by higher taxes or lower benefits or both. Stop lying and give us the whole truth.

    May 17, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Jon

    Please explain how increased access to healthcare by 45 million people will not increase the cost of healthcare and thus the deficit. The poor quality of the economists hired by the adminsitration is astounding.

    May 17, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. 2Nurselady

    I agree with you 100% , Randall In Torrance! Great post.

    We elected this President, in part, for this very reason. We need to have a national healthcare system now. Why is anyone even considering what Republicans feel about it? We voted them OUT! I am all for inclusion, but when they are trying to thwart positive efforts in the direction the American people who elected this administration want to go, the elephant needs to be moved off of the tracks so the train can move forward – so that what is DECENT and HUMANE can be accomplished.

    May 17, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. DaBird

    What a liar. $100 billion won't even scratch the surface of universal health care. Everyone should have health care, but if you believe this statement, then you probably think Pelosi is telling the truth.

    May 17, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. Rickymo

    These GOP folks have no ideas about anything, nothing to offer the US so smear tactics are the only thing they have left..pity.

    May 17, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  9. 2Nurselady

    SENSIBLE MIKE – In response to your post, I do not care if having healthcare for all in this country increases the deficit or not. It is something that is needed – far more needed than the WASTE of money Bush squandered taking us into Iraq to fulfill what I believe was his personal vendetta to get Saddam Hussein. Now, we are stuck there and more money that could be going to more important things for our people is being spent – ALL OF IT resulting from what I feel is the ineptitude of the Bush-Cheney White House. Why should the needs of The People be neglected now because of the irresponsibility of the Bush-Cheney administration? Answer: They shouldn't.

    May 17, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Jeb

    If Obama manages to reform this then I think we should amend the constitution and allow him 7 terms.

    May 17, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. Rob

    Od course it won't increase the actual budget. They moved so many standard projects over into the stimulus bill to hide them from the budget numbers.

    May 17, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. Proud DHS radical

    One of the problems would be that the democrats will want to provide total health care free to any and all illegals.

    May 17, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Mario

    It will raise the debt of this country, don't lie about that!

    May 17, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    Obama is moving forward and the repubs are going backward ...big business crap . the middle class people have had enough of the crap from the republicans

    May 17, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. hongli

    Ever since John King said on CNN that George Bush Has never taken off his suit jacket in the Oval office ,referring to Barack Obama taking off his in the Oval Office I've stopped listening to this moron.It's better to take off your suit jacket and have a PLAN for the country than have your complete suit on without a brain and a plan and looking like a well dressed up moron.

    May 17, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. Sue

    I don't care to pay for health care for all the losers in this country,. Nobama has me paying for all the losers mortgages and now the car and insurance companies. Yeah sure, I want to pay everyone's health care too.
    All the losers better pull up their boot straps and get a job. No excuses. We are getting sick of carrying around the free loaders in this society and looks like Nobama is making as many free loaders as possible. Where is your pride?

    May 17, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. rob verdi

    its a lie

    May 17, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Larry

    Are you on drugs? This is just how stupid these people are !

    May 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. Dan, TX

    Taxes will go up. But frankly, it is worth it. The plan is for everyone to keep their own insurance. The cost of your insurance will go down and that will be balanced by an increase in taxes to help subsidize poor people to afford crappy bad health care.

    Poor people should have worse health care than responsible people, but they should have some kind of health care to keep them out of the emergency room of my hospital.

    Government – crappy – health care for poor people. Real insurance and health care for the rest of us. I support Obama's plan.

    May 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. Willy Brown

    More democrat lies with the help of CNN

    May 17, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. george

    If you don't think socialized health care reform will increase the deficit, then you must drink Jack daniels before you go on TV, unless you mean that this administration is going to tax the devil out of us in order to pay for it

    May 17, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Johnny DC

    Hey "Randall in Torrence" - who is supposed to pay for the immediate NOW health care for all Americans? Health Care is the most basic right for all? Since when? I don't recall Health Care on the minds of the founding fathers. Is it the missing 11th Amendment from the Bill of Rights?

    There's only one way this won't adversely affect the budget – if Obama pushes forward heavier taxes on the wealthy and on businesses. Take from the rich and give to the poor.... for children, it's fairy-tale Robin Hood. For the rest of us, it's the road to socialism and will ruin the stability of our economy.

    May 17, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. Judy in Az

    If the purpose of the nationalization of healthcare is to also provide coverage for the alleged 45+ million the gov't claims are uninsured, when are they going to tell the American public that 9.7 million of that number they are using are NOT U.S. citizens? When are they going to break down the numbers and tell us how many of the 45+ million could afford insurance-but choose not to have insurance? When are they going to tell us ANYTHING about the healthcare plan they plan to shove down our throats?

    May 17, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Connor

    I'm sorry, but barring some sort of new taxation or an increase in current rates, there is no way health care reform will be deficit neutral over 10 years. They've pledged $600 billion as a down payment; most estimates put the cost at around $1.5 TRILLION over the next decade. But then again, fiscal responsibility is certainly no more of a priority for the Obama administration than it was for George W. Bush

    May 17, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. john

    I watched this and I can not imagine what JOhn King is doing.....

    What an outright bias!!

    May 17, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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