June 14th, 2009
05:10 PM ET
11 years ago

Biden refuses to rule out new tax on health care benefits

Vice President Biden said Sunday that the Obama administration opposes taxing employer-provided health care benefits but would not say the president would reject legislation that included such a new tax.

Vice President Biden said Sunday that the Obama administration opposes taxing employer-provided health care benefits but would not say the president would reject legislation that included such a new tax.

(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that the Obama administration opposes taxing the medical benefits employers provide workers to pay for health care reform, but he refused to rule it out entirely.

"We do not think that is the way to go; we think that is the wrong way to finance this legislation," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. Pressed on whether President Barack Obama would veto a bill from Congress containing such a mechanism, Biden said Obama would consider the measure in total before making a decision.

Obama has outlined a series of steps to lower current costs and raise taxes to pay for an overhaul of the health care system, including creation of a government-funded "public" option for the nation's 46 million uninsured. He will speak Monday to the American Medical Association, which questions how a public option can work.

On Saturday, the president proposed $313 billion in cuts and new savings over the next decade, with some of the funds coming from expected increases in efficiency, reductions in excessive hospital payments and drug cost savings from individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.

Biden noted that the administration also seeks to raise $300 billion in taxes by limiting the deductions of high-income Americans.

Republican leaders join Obama and Democrats in calling for health care reform, but oppose a public option as a potential boondoggle that would be unfair to private insurers.

"If the government is in the insurance business, there won't be any other insurers Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told the CBS program "Face the Nation."

"It's inevitable because the taxpayers will be backing up the program."

McConnell said "virtually every Republican" would oppose a government-funded public option, which Obama supports to provide coverage for those currently uninsured and to stimulate competition with private insurers to lower costs.

Possible alternatives to a public option include private cooperatives, like electricity cooperatives, owned and paid for by communities that would compete with existing insurance programs.

Supporters say such a program would require initial government support, but eventually would provide the kind of competition Obama seeks without creating a new government bureaucracy.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Obama was open to whatever ideas will work to address a problem that must be addressed.

"The costs are crushing us," Sebelius said. "It's hurting families. Our businesses are less competitive. We can't continue on this pathway."

Like Biden, she warned against a possible tax on medical benefits, saying it would affect privately owned plans that currently cover 180 million Americans.

"There is still a great deal of disagreement on whether or not taxing benefits at any level of any kind really does put us a step forward or take us a step back," Sebelius said.

Updated: 5:10 p.m.

Filed under: Health care • Joe Biden • Popular Posts
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. didi

    whatever it takes, people do not give darn hoot, than fixing this health care....we need to cover all american citizens......hospitals are robbing the nation on the pretext of health care....even hiring foreigners for medical residencies, while lot of MDs, PAs, available....shame....shame....biden, fix health care...cover all americans...it is needed right now...in USA........

    June 14, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Thin is in?

    The latest in a long line of lies by the fraud in chief.

    This never worked a day in his life fraud LIED to get elected and is changing his tune on what he said to get ELECTED and some smart Democrats are starting to call him in on it.

    The rest of the Dimocrats are sheep and will always be stupid, moronic, Keith Olbermann watching sheep.

    Maybe you nitwits will start taking notice when your money starts missing from your checks, the Obama sheep that work of course, which are not many.

    Obama says "we live in the greatest Country in the world, help me fix it"???????????????????

    June 14, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. yuri

    Any number of arguements and countermeasures to reform healthcare will face stiff resistance from the parties with vested interests and the general public. Remember the 800-lb gorilla?

    June 14, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Rev. Wright here

    Thanks joe, Taxes on the rise i take it that you and obama will be visiting me in church in 4 years..........

    June 14, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. Leah

    The bottom line is Americans should have healthcare coverages
    What the government should do is to sent some experts body to various countries like Canada, Britain,Europe etc., to study healthcare systems.
    These experts can studies both pros and cons, bring results of studies back to US and use the information to create US healthcare systems.

    June 14, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. Matt, Canoga Park

    Come on America I know it is hard to make ends meet now a days but it is time to pay higher taxes so a bunch of fat lazy people who don't work, don't work out and live unhealthy lives can get some free medical care paid for by you and I. You didn't make them fat, didn't make them lazy and are not the reason they are unable to hold a job. But it is your patriotic duty to support these people from the cradle to the grave.

    June 14, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Fla.

    Dave in TX,

    Please get your story straight...taxing healthcare benefits is NOT on the table from this administration–that's a Republican idea. The Obama administration simply won't rule it out if it's part of a larger acceptance of comprehensive reform...

    That's NOT "hypocricy" [sic] as you purported; that's pragmatism in consensus building.

    June 14, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Fla.

    To "Rev. Wright here"

    Nonsense. If you don't like the idea of TAXING healthcare, you should direct those concerns to the GOP for creating such a notion, not Vice President Biden.

    June 14, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. ME IN FL

    Observer and Russ H are telling the truth, I have a nephew that lives in England and has had no problems whatsoever and not a complaint, on the contrary, they talk very well about the health care they receive.

    As you can see, most people that are posting here do not get information prior to sending their comments and you can tell that they have not been out of this country.

    Also, HOUSE CALLS here in the US???? Be glad if the doctor doesn't charge you for a telephone call to his office!!!!!!

    I will be THRILLED to have a health care program like the one in Europe!

    And people, please when you send a comment always remember that there are Europeans, Canadians and other people from other countries that are reading them. We are the greatest country in the world let's not show them how stupid we are!!!!!!

    June 14, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Joe

    There is so much WRONG with the pabulum coming from this administration that the country cannot believe anything that comes out of the oval office, it seems every day Obama is turning back on his promises. You on the left – right and in the middle WAKE UP we will all lose in the end if the brakes are not applied to these wayard, childish dreamers who expiriment with our country with marxist ideal's.

    June 14, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. truthsayer

    Until Americans come to grips with the fact that we cant balance or budgets without raising taxes, we will keep swimming in red ink.

    June 14, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Chickenfoot

    What he is talking about is the same shop warn plan Edward Kennedy, has been trying to shove down Americans throat for 20 years. Every 4 years Kennedy drags out this half baked plan and tries to sell it.

    In the mean time Kennedy, has a FREE LIFE TIME medical plan paid in full by the taxpayers...It does not cost him a dime....And this aplies to every member of Congress and Obama..

    June 14, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. RealityKing

    Where's the tape CNN? When are you guys going to stop protecting these progressive liars!?

    We will not raise your taxes one singe penny. -Obama 2008

    June 14, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. Steve, Columbia SC

    Of course...............the demoncrats, right up to our new president refuse to rule out new taxes.............that's THEIR AMERICAN WAY. That's the change they're talking about.

    Get ready for much more government pickpocketing folks.

    June 14, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. charles

    Such a tax would raise taxes or those making less than $250K. The promise was to not do this. One of many promises that have not been kept.

    June 14, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. JAY JOHN

    Taxation with lousy representation.

    June 14, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. Peter E

    I'm not worried about government run health care. Bureaucrats already decide my health, it just happens to be private companies. If anyone, including the government, can offer me cheaper alternative, I would take it. I don't care if it's through taxes or fees. Private insurance companies are already taxing me enough. It's still money leaving my pocket. I want something cheaper!

    June 14, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. Ken

    If the American public have to end up paying taxes on medical benefits, then they better make sure that each and everyone working for the federal government who receives medical benefits, that they too will have to pay taxes on them!

    June 14, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    As dim as Biden is, even he has to realise that any sort of broad-based new tax will pretty much ensure his boss will be a one-term president.

    June 14, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. robert

    The repubilicans r sadly mistaken about the current health care system. They pretend that we have a prefect system that covers people wonderfully and that nobody pays into a private system for years and then gets denied coverage when they need it. The bottom line is we need reform in the current system

    June 14, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Pete

    wow, we are some truly ignorant people now aren't we? Joe Biden did not say they were going to tax benefits, nor has Obama proposed doing so. CNN, it is shameless and fraudulent of you to post such a headline.

    ....and PS, please keep the PAID Replucian posters off the board. They will incite even more lies and the, how do I say, "more gullable" of americans read what they are posting. Haven't we had enough Terrorist attacks over the last week??

    PPS- I would rather pay $250 more a month in taxes, than to pay the $450 I pay now or the $750 additonal amount my company pays. Stop the lies Republicans. YOu are only trying to protect the Big Insurance and Farma Groups who are paying you to do so. No one in Europe is complaining about their health care. Our health care system is a global embarassmetn for the USA.

    June 14, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  22. Average American

    First, they will TAX your employer provided health care. Then, they will tax industry produced Carbon-dioxide emissions (cap & TAX), which you will pay for. Then, they will tax the carbon-dioxide you exhale. Then, they will tax the methane you produce. Then, they will TAX........

    Why not start taxing all advertisements (which are 100% deductible) for companies grossing $1 million or more? How many 100's of billions of dollars are not taxed due to this loop hole. I bet you won't see a report on cnn about it!!!!!!! There is more money to be made through taxing advertisement write-offs, than by taxing the working people. Just ask a working person.

    June 14, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. Larry from RI

    High time for the blood sucking Health Care industry to be taken out of the hands of bean counters and Wall St. speculators and make them all non-profit.

    Since when is the health care of every citizen of the USA no more than a commodity to be traded like pork bellies and soy beans on the stock market while the CEO's who run them line their pockets with billions?

    Something smells rotten here!

    June 14, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. Mike


    You're a typical liberal. Only you have the right to free speech but when someone challenges you, they should be censored. Everyone has the right to express their opinions and should CNN filter posts, then they are no longer a news agency, instead they are no differnet then the theocracy people are fighting right now in Iran. You too will be screaming soon enough when this nations incompetent president begins taxing you into debt. Last I checked this was supposed to be a democracy, not a socialist nation.

    June 14, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  25. Mike

    The objective of this administration is to take as much money as they can from everyone making more than $250k and distribute it to everyone making less. That way we will all make the same. Anyone here who liked living in the good old USSR?

    June 14, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
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