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. Patricia

    Why doesn't he really think this through before he puts my grandbabies so for in debt and all of thier hard work will not go for taxes...They deserve the american dream as well as Obama and michelle have enjoyed .....Come on Obama think about someone besides yourself for once...

    May 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. Jim

    The cost of insurance will go up, taxes will go up, the quality of health care will go down, health care will be rationed, and it'll be more difficult to see a physician because there aren't enough of them. Oh ya, and the deficit is ballooning like never before. Obama is worse than Bush.

    May 17, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. German,Irish American

    Isn't this the same guy who predicted the Obama budget deficit for 2009 would be 1.2 trillion, but is now saying that it will be closer to 1.8 trillion? Oh well, whats six hundred billion dollars here or there to this administration that throws money around like candy? What got this country into this economic mess was the thinking that government could spend endlessly and could run government sponsored enterprises (GSE'S) like Fannie and Freddie. Now Obama has no new ideas, but wants to pursue and enhance these failed DEMOCRAT policies by taking government control of banks, auto industry,and healthcare. If one truly wants to see the result of Obama's vision of the government "taking care of peoples every needs, including unlimited pay for doing nothing", one only has to look at the Native American reservations. The governments socialist view of "helping" these people, stifled this proud race's ability to function on an equal basis in a free enterprise society.

    May 17, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Kat

    More than 15% of Americans are uninsured. In most of Europe, everyone is covered: 100%. Yet health care in America costs us twice as much. Sure, Europeans don't get to choose where they go and they sit in long lines, but I don't get to choose my doctor either under my health plan. And I don't get seen right away. Furthermore, you're only covered in America so long as what happens to you isn't TOO catastrophic. At least not until you've lost everything. Where's the sense in that?

    The Founding Fathers weren't GOD. They weren't clairvoyant or omnipotent either. If a society doesn't adapt to arising conditions, it will stagnate and decay.

    May 17, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. Chris

    There are people who work, people who are retired from work, people who are laid off from work. All of these people have earned health care and deserve health care. Then there are the people who, to put it mildly, don't care to work. Yet somehow, these very same people collect more benefits than many of those in the first sentence. These are the people who have earned nothing and deserve nothing until they change. Let's drop the deadbeats who are undermining the values bestowed upon us by most of our ancestors, the value of hard work and what it brings to those who do so.

    May 17, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Justin

    Need to wake up people. How will possibly taxing employer based insurance not raise their rates to unaffordable levels forcing them to cut their insurance levels and force their employees to join Obamas plan. You're being hoodwinked. Meanwhile the politicians maintain their separate $12,000 a year per person program. Why don't they pledge to join the program? Also according to they have allocated $102 bil. but only $36 bil. has been paid out, or 4.5% of the $787 bil. plan. Boy, good thing we got that bill passed so fast without reading it.
    Just ask yourself one question, what government programs have been financially sound the last 20 years? Is it social security or medicare (US's 1st attempt at socialized healthcare) I guess I've forgotten how "trustworty" our politicians are.

    May 17, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. TCM

    @ RR –

    I concur...the health care for the illegals and minorities spitting out babies like PEZ dispensers will cause the country to go completely broke.

    May 17, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Concerned Texan

    I think these repub pukes are getting on everyone nerves. The same people that are complaining sat around while the previous administration sent us all in the hole while their Wall St. friends and bankers got filthy rich. And it is these same complainers that will be the 1st people in line to use the benefits once we get the health care issue passed into law. They complained about all the help the United States government has allocated via social programs,YET, there are more repub uneducated, uninsured, non working hillbillies on all social roles than any other group. Wipe the snuff from your lips and get with the program. This country will always be able to bounce back as long as we have those that LOVE this country and don't mind doing whatever it takes to make this a great place to live.

    May 17, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. JB

    Here's a thought on health care that truly makes me sick to my stomach. Why are full-time federal employees, and especially elected officials (politicians), receiving FREE health insurance at the taxpayer's expense? Especially, considering that people like me are already finding it challenging enough to pay for their monthly health insurance premiums out of the salary they earn.

    I am a working-class teacher who has to teach several courses between different colleges to earn a living. I work a full-time work week, and I PAY the cost of my Health Insurance premiums each month. NOBODY is giving me a free ride.

    So, why should I, as many other Americans, have to help pay for these HIGH paid government employees health Insurance when I am required to pay for my coverage. I say let these people pay for their health insurance premiums too. But, it appears this system will continue to remain in place for years to come. Truly pathetic.

    May 17, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. CR

    Why are we even having this conversation? Prove you can Fix and manage medicaid and medicare. How about proving you can provide even basic healthcare for our Vetrans -what a joke. We are idiots as a nation to even listen to government proposals on this subject given their track record...Action not words, prove it.

    May 17, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. I need no party to tell me how to live...

    Just another goverment program that will fail........

    May 17, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Peter E

    Put your money where your big mouth is! I love how the people who are most worried about 'burdening our children' with debt are also the ones who have been selfishly asking for taxbreaks for themselves all these years. They want tax breaks for themselves AND their children, all the while refusing to pay the debt of their own fathers, pretending it has nothing to do with them. Guess what! You wouldn't have your house, your car and roads to drive on, and a military to secure it all if your fathers didn't borrow all that money as deficit. Now it's YOUR turn to pay down that debt! But no... You still ask for more tax breaks for yourself and your children, pretending you had nothing to do with the debt. Somebody has to pay it! And if you don't want it to be your children, then you'd better put your money where your big mouth is!

    May 17, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Peter E

    For eight years the Bush administration increased national debt, and hence future tax burden by giving tax breaks. Those tax breaks you got WERE borrowed from your children! But they increased the debt and eventually have to be paid. YOU asked for a tax break, and you continue to ask for more. But remember, all tax break for you is just debt you are borrowing, and all of the tax breaks you got will have to be paid back by your children! Thank you for having been selfish!

    May 17, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Pres. Obama

    I thought it was supposed to decrease it.

    May 17, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Ray Fisher

    We are already paying dearly for health care so I'm hoping a new plan will decrease costs by covering more people and having less health care deadbeats!!! My insurance is covering all the homeless drunks cluttering the emergency rooms who pay nothing while I have to wait for care, that is what the President's plan will help mostly!!!

    May 17, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. Peter E

    For eight years Bush has given republicans tax breaks that increased the national debt. For eight years these republicans pretended that the tax breaks belong to them and somehow their children will not need to pay them back. For eight years they have burdened their children with this debt. For eight years they've been silent about the debt they accumulated. NOW they raise their voices about how their children will be burdened? Hypocrites!

    May 17, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. BH

    Obama has clearly surrounded himself with Yes Men- "Yes, Mr President, we can end the war and nothing bad will happen. Yes, Mr President, we can release terrorist suspects into the mainland US and nothing bad will happen. Yes, Mr President, we can have universal healthcare without raising the deficit that you've already increased by trillions of dollars in 100 days. It will all work out over a 10-year period, and if not, you won't be here in 10 years anyway and the media will never blame you for it."

    May 17, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  18. Mike in Texas

    From 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?

    Please provide facts on how you are paying for the things you mention above? You don't even know how the govt plan for mortgages even works obviously. The people that got in over their heads and living outside their means aren't the ones getting help. It's the people who have lost their jobs or had some life changing event. Come to the table with facts instead of your babbling drivel. Oh and calling him NoBama sure shows how mature and logical you are. You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

    Thank you and have a nice day.

    May 17, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. JM

    Be careful fools, you may get what you wish for and find out it wasn't what you thought.

    May 17, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. SLM

    Are you kidding? If it isn't going to increase the deficit, it will certainly increase taxes enormously. It's one or the other, nothing is free folks, unless you can be considered poor or illegal, then everything is free, while the "taxpayers" pay to cover it for everyone else. If this really happens the quality of care will be lousy for those who don't die waiting for treatment. Your dog will get better treatment at the vet than you can get.

    May 17, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Hammer

    Truth and Transparency, anyone remember those pledges?
    Anyone believe this is truth or transparent?

    May 17, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. John

    Very few countries have government health care, I live in one that does, Canada, don't believe the hype, its not all rosy. Emergency rooms are closed some days because they don't have enough doctors (caused by the Canadian Medical Association refusing to allow foreign doctors to practice), when open rooms are over flowing, wait times can go over 24hours, MRIs, X-rays, specialist visits require 3-6 months wait if not longer, getting a doctor or appointment is very difficult. Still I appreciate it as everyone gets some treatment, however we do pay very high taxes. Implementing this program in the USA will definitely increase the deficit (borrow more money from China) or higher taxes. I find people in the US are blindly listening to their emotions, the US is a broke country (sorry I have to tell you the truth), it can hardly afford the existing entitlement programs such Social Security, how is Obama magically going to introduce a new entitlement with no cost? Either taxes go up or you have to borrow more money from China. Remember its the US citizens who have to pay this back!

    May 17, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Paul C

    The way that Canada, England, Australia, Germany, France and the other industrialized countries afford universal health care is to not go to war at the drop of a hat. You never heard of them having to decide whether to buy medicine or eat. You never heard of them having to declare bankruptcy to pay medical bills. For one thing....The 10 billion dollars we are spending per month in Iraq would go a long way towards health care. The U.S. has a national obsession to be in a war every 10 years. We'll buy multibillion dollar aircraft carriers, 220 million dollar airplanes and provide military security for the world but we are horrified at providing health care for our poor and working poor.
    Tell me again how we are the richest country in the world...Substitute dumb for richest and you'll be closer to reality.

    May 17, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. diane08

    Just listen to all of the Republican responses: MY taxes, My money, My grandchildren, MY doctors, MY hospitals, My country.....ME, ME, ME....It's all about me!!!!!!

    Self righteous, self absorbed, bigots who are incapable of understanding that there are millions of people in this country that are legal, that work just as hard if not harder than they do, who are responsible, and who pay their taxes, and STILL can't afford health care.

    Republicans claim to be so "pro-life", but if you don't live in their neighborhoods, make as much money as they do, think or look like they do, then you could drop dead for all they care. Hypocrites.

    May 17, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. bk

    If the Obamabots believe this, they are dummer than I thought.

    May 17, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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