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. Tim

    Let me clarify the title of my comment in case some people misinterpret it in some bad way. It is over for Obama, because within his term, after the huge expenditures, there will be little improvement in the economy, and perhaps his misdirected policies will have already begun to push up taxes and costs on the average taxpayer. He will not be electable for another term, unless the Republicans continue to screw up and can't find a common voice and theme.

    June 14, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. red33,cedar rapids, ia

    No one, and I mean 'no one' should be surprised that they are talking about taxing everything they can possibly tax. This is what liberals do, so they can 'play' to their constituents that vote them in office. Hang on to your hats people, you 'ain't' seen nothing yet!!!
    Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him, although I voted for the 'lesser of 2 evils'. You get what you vote for, and after this don't believe all the empty promises, and the fact is that the prez and his hand picked cohorts don't have a clue on what they are doing..............just spend, spend, spend & let the taxpayers worry about it when we tax, tax, tax,................
    People who don't want to work should not have the same benefits that hard working people work for, and that includes cell phones, tvs, ipods, etc. During the depression, we bought what we could afford.... Period. We had NO food stamps, or welfare.

    June 14, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. me

    If there going to tax the health benifit then they need to tax those that use welfare as a free ride.

    June 14, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  4. Myrna

    I work for a Fortune 500 company, three years ago they changed our health insurance and it is just terrible. Three years earlier I was paying high premiums, but the insurance was pretty good, now I pay high premiums and it just stinks. I had skin cancer and still had to pay thousands out of my own pocket. Also certain things were denied all together. The insurance companies dictate what I need, what is the difference if the government does it, someone that doesn't know me from Adam is doing the same thing now. Also we are paying the health insurance premiums for all government workers and they have great insurance. I want and demand the same thing.

    June 14, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. renea

    To me nothing for nothing means nothing, someone have to pay for it if its going to happen. I want this and with Gods help we are going to get it. And i Has health insurance and thank God for it but what about the ones who dont have it and cant afford it so the picture here is bigger than me and mines. I want the Obama administration to keep on keeping on with this no matter what opposition says.

    June 14, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. JB

    This country is truly uneducated. When the government does anything is does it poorly. When the government steps in, competition is taken away and thus, what ever is being managed is poorly managed because there is no competition. I dont want to pay any more in taxes. I pay enough in taxes and those wanting people to pay more are typically those who do not work hard or who expect something for nothing.

    Also, no one here seems to be mentioning that Obama promised that households that make less that 250K would not see a tax increase but yet taxing my health care benefits is a tax increase. They will back track and claim they said no increased taxes on revenue and clim the benefits are something different. Once the government gets ahold of the insurance industry, this country will cease to be anymore than a large Canada or France where we slowly start working for the government.

    June 14, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  7. Tex-Mex

    Gov't health care.

    Ask a Canadian how long it takes to get an appointment with a specialist.

    Inquire why Canadians in Vancouver come down to Seattle for various procedures and surgeries at their cost – totally outstide of the the Canadian system.

    Not sure that is what I want.

    June 14, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  8. Anti Communist

    It's about time for a full out revolt against royalty in DC. They should be stripped of ALL perks We the people demand a repeal of the 16th Amendment. We the people demand Congress represent US not themselves and their special interest handlers. The corruption MUST stop NOW.

    June 14, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  9. Mack

    I don't know why we won't recognize Cuba. We will be like them very soon.

    June 14, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  10. Free Capitalist

    How about we start by making this country competitive again. 1) allow the federal government to only tax imported goods and services, 2) abolish ALL social programs funded by the federal government, 3) repeal the 16th Amendment, 4) strip congress of their retirement and health care plans as well as impose term limits on ALL elected offices, 5) stock up on firearms and ammunition so we can repel the tyranny we now face.

    June 14, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. DBlack

    The Government can't even run medicare and medicaid. How will they run the entire healthcare of this country. Anyone who drank the koolaid that thinks the government runs things better than the private sector give me one example of a program the government runs well. Everything they runs goes bankrupt. Look at Social Security. People need to wake up and start voting for people that will give power back to the states where it belongs.

    June 14, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  12. RealityKing

    "Pay Go" -Obama 2009

    What a silly fool he is when you actually take time to listen to his words..

    June 14, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. Patricia

    Until we can get past greed, we will never have decent medical care. . How many more running events and collecting pink yogurt labels do we need to find a cure for breast cancer? Do we have a cure for diabetes or maybe we don't have a cure for diabetes because what would this do to the pharmaceutical companies and their profits? Until we can put people before profits, there will be no change.

    June 14, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  14. John Ellison

    Europeans are complaining about their healthcare because it's killing their economy. Look at countries like France.

    If our healthcare is such an embarassement, then why do more people from around the world come here to get treated than any other nation. The issue has more to do with finding ways to get healthcare more accessible to people. The government can't run a system this large and complex.

    June 14, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. Tyler Kreitz

    Those who think the doctor's outrageous salaries are to blame need to realize that something like 3% of each dollar spent on healthcare goes towards paying medical personnel. They should also realize that doctors frequently lose money for services reimbursed with medicare. In all honesty entitlements need to be cut to some extent. We all know medicare is not sustainable, and is part of the problem. We promised healthcare for those who have paid into the system for years, but is it worth it to bankrupt the system in order to fulfill this promise? Besides I'm paying into the system and won't ever see anything for it...

    June 14, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. Neither Rep Nor Dem

    Why would we want to put the Health Care system into the hands of the people who can't run Medicaid, Medicare, or the VA Health System? Face it, whichever administration is in charge, the US Government has not been able to run the US Government. Let us not give them something else to ruin. Force Congress to clean up the mess they made with Social Security and the deficit before we let them make another one.

    June 14, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. Mark

    Do normal people ever add comments or is it just the crazies with extremist views?

    June 14, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  18. TRoss

    Sorry I am just not going to drink the purple coolaid on this one. This will fall on the backs of hard working democrats and republicans. There are not enough wealthy people to support a bill this large!

    So... we the middle and lower middle class are going to get shafted.
    Then you will tax carbon emissions and our electricity, food and taxes go waay up too?

    So in the next few years only non tax paying politicians of both parties will be able to afford a roof over their heads.

    How long are we going to let politicians lie to us in the face while reaching into our back pockets without our say so.

    THESE PEOPLE are supposed to be working for us! Not the other way around. They have no idea how to spend money wisely and it is time WE ALL stood up to them.

    June 14, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  19. Jim Benson

    The Beatles got it absolutely right...

    If you get too cold, they'll tax the heat.
    If you take a walk, they'll tax your feet.

    This administration won't be happy until every person in the US is making exactly $14,081 a year; every CEO's to the unemployed.

    June 14, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  20. Roland

    in regards to" Observers" comments on health care in Germany,
    yes it was quite good some years back, now there are frequent increases on
    co-pays. diff medications for diff level of insured etc etc.
    in other words, if you a big shot/govt worker you have much better
    health coverage then the average Joe.
    yes the part of Dr. visits at home still is correct ?
    the grass is not always greener on the other side.
    and Canada (and I have friends there) if you want to wait 6 mo
    for a Dr. appointment – then move there.

    June 14, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. Bonnie

    Why don't these career politicians realize that a tax on those corporations that contribute to America's health problems would be an ideal way to raise revenue for health care reform. If all the corporations that pump poisons and toxins into our food and water supplies were made to cover the diseases they cause, it would go a long way to improving the health of Americans. The rule in micro-economics is: If you tax something, you get less of it than you would in a "free-market" situation. If we tax health insurance benefits, we will get less benefits than we presently do. If we tax poisons and toxins at their points of origin in our food supply and our water supply, it will reduce the demand on medical care to treat people for these diseases. I say, "follow the money..."

    June 14, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  22. Poverty level = middle class

    Obama's not going to raise taxes on 95% of the people. You fools bought into that crap, the rest of us KNEW taxes would be raised and there will be more tax increases to come. Democrats tax and spend, what don't you seem to get about that? Quality health care in this country will become a thing of the past, we will have the quality that Medicare has.....NONE! To save costs they will eliminate tests that save lives.

    June 14, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  23. renea

    Why do everytime the republicans says something mixed with fear the same people that was with the president on his policies turns against him when the republicans poke fear in them dont you know this is a old tastic by the republicans.Its obvious thy are trying to win back their base. thats why all the negativity. Wake up supporters either you are for him or against the administration.

    June 14, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Enough

    You and Obama lied, Say it ain't so Joe! Wow, what a shocker, new taxes, guess technically they can say they didn't RAISE taxes, just creating a whole bunch of NEW taxes. Great idea, destroy health care and raise our taxes to do it. Yes we need reform, but what they're doing isn't the solution, it's a rushed through mess.

    June 14, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  25. Terik Ororke

    I am retired with a small pension. The company that I retired from pays about $600.00 a month for my health care. So the blood suckers want to tax my benefits that means I will receive far less pension that the small one I am receiving ( under $25.000) while congress and everyone else including illegal aliens get a free pass at my expense? Then there is the rising cost of gasoline and those oil speculators and medical speculators treat Americans as commodities. the democrats need to wake up or end up with losing congress and the Presidency in the next election. enough is enough!

    June 14, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
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