July 16th, 2009
04:54 PM ET
13 years ago

Pelosi: Health care surtax could be lowered, not eliminated

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/18/art.pelosihand0618.gi.jpg caption=" Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that a health care surtax may be lowered but that it could not be eliminated."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she would willing to lower the amount of a new surtax on wealthy Americans to pay for health care legislation if more savings from proposed reforms can cover the cost of the bill.

"If we can get more savings, we can perhaps lower the percentage that the high end will pay," Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.

But the Speaker made it clear that Democrats still plan to tax the rich, and said if the money isn't needed to pay for health care it would be directed at the nation's budget deficit. "There is going to be a revenue change at the high end. It will be directly to reduce the deficit or to reduce the deficit by helping to cover the cost of this initiative."

Earlier this week, House Democrats proposed a graduated surtax on wealthy Americans to pay for their roughly $1 trillion health care bill. The new tax is expected to raise $550 billion over ten years. The proposal would add a 1 percent surtax on adjusted gross income for families who make over $350,000 a year. It would increase to 1.5 percent for those families making $500,000 a year, and jump again to 5.4 percent for those making over $1 million a year.

Pelosi said she is also open to making more cost cutting changes to the bill to satisfy a group of conservative Democrats known as "Blue Dogs."

Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross, said he and other Blue Dogs are still discussing the specific changes they will propose to the bill. He said the group is not negotiating any changes to the proposed surtax. But Ross said he didn't favor it. "I don't like the idea of raising taxes in the worst economic recession since World War II, " Ross said.

Filed under: Health care • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. AndrewCPA

    GI Joe – why should the rich give their money back? They earned it. If you are so much for this waste of a plan you pay the extra amount. I have lot's of harding working people become rich by their hard work and now the gov't wants kill that sprit.

    July 16, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. marilyn

    Canadians pay about $56 a month. That is more reasonable health insurance. Please talk to Canadians. Taiwan managed to get single payer up and running a couple of years ago. Aren't we smart enough to do the same.

    July 16, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. WIll 18E

    The bigger issue here is not the tax. It's once we have guvment run co-op, that individuals can buy into, private insurance will have to lower premiums, cut cost, and deliver insurance to all. So if the free market is to work, no one would buy guvment insurance and the need for the tax would go away.

    July 16, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    i agree i am tired of paying for rich people....

    July 16, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. Steve in Denver

    Adam: Close Gitmo – well under way. Get us out of Iraq – well under way. Tax cut for the middle class – check. End torture – check. Restore diplomacy to our foreign policy – check. Health care reform – in the works. Environmental legislation – check.

    Hmmm. As frustrating as the process can be sometimes, this President has done more in his first six months than many presidents accomplish in their whole term.

    Me in big D: You hate too much! I've worked all my life, paid taxes all my life, as most of the people I run into in Democratic political activities. Obama's big spending? Where were you when Bush turned a 250 billion surplus into a $450 deficit in a very few short years? I don't like Obama's huge deficits, but most economists say it is necessary. One big difference, when the economy recovers, I believe Obama and the Democratic congress will reign in spending and make a serious dent on the deficit. If it were Bush still in office or McCain, they'd cut taxes to give away more money to the rich.

    Bush was handed a record surplus and turned it into a record deficit. I believe that Obama's record will be much more like Clinton's – positive fiscal policy instead of the train wreck that Bush inflicted upon us.

    July 16, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. Dean Dunham

    Good for Pelosi! That's exactly how it should be. The rich have gotten a free pass on paying their fair share of taxes FOR TOO LONG – thanks to their crony W!!

    July 16, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Mark, Warwick RI

    Taxes have to be proportionate to the benefits received, not the amount possible. Graduated taxation makes sense insofar as the wealthy have more for the government to protect than the poor does. But the augmentation of this graduation for equitable benefits is unfair, socialist, and will present a pressure for these benefits to become unequitable.

    Are we to give the rich better healthcare than the poor? According to this type of a tax, they're paying more for it, so surely they deserve it. But I doubt the left can support that, despite how magically they can support a disproportional increase in taxation.

    July 16, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. Jeff in Sims, NC

    I was a life long Democrat up until 1 year ago but Pelosi, Reid, and Kennedy and THEIR agenda made me an Independent. If this doesn't help I will next be a foreigner but NEVER a Republican.

    July 16, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. seebofubar

    Do you idiots know that sucessul pepole are the ones that give you jobs? They are the ones who took risks and built this nation. If you take away their insentive to make money, you take away their insentive to grow their companies, you only hurt yourselvs and your children. Don't be envious of those who have more, they earned it. Educate your self and work hard to better your self, take responsibility for your own life. ENVY ONE OF THE GREAT DEADLY SINS.

    July 16, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  10. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Has the entire leadership of our country gone mad? I know Thomas Jefferson would be telling us our present Government is worse than the King of England and we revolted against England.
    Come on people do you want to live enslaved to a Government that just can not stop spending?

    July 16, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. gt

    these thieves will rob each americans of our money to pay off there big shot speical interest groups.... pelosi and her band of theives are killing this country.....

    July 16, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. I am middle class

    Republicans don't like Democrats. Democrats don't like Republicans. And everyone's so busy calling each other names that no one bothers to talk PRO's and CON's. Can no one argue a point anymore? Why can't people debate things on merit?

    I am not a Democrat, I am not a Republican.

    I am Middle Class

    July 16, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  13. Steve in Denver

    Just say no: We need to work towards balancing our budget, instead of the fiscal insanity that Bush foisted upon us. We need to pay our bills as we go, whether that means raising taxes, cutting spending (which kills jobs just as much as raising taxes), or some combination. I've never heard Republicans talk about pay as you go rules, in fact that was the first thing they eliminated under Bush. The deficit is bad now, but I believe Obama will reduce it when the economy turns around. If it were Bush or McCain, they'd simply give out more tax cuts that no one can afford.

    You may have to fire an employee (if you are really in a position to do so), but much more of the wreckless spending and deregulation that the Republicans treated us to will make the deficit so high you'll have to close shop. Just a few more years of Republican fiscal policy would turn us into a third world country.

    July 16, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. paul

    I am disgusted that Dems are pushing such a huge bill thru without a closer look at its impact. Fix the problems with the Medicare system first, why add a new government run program when Medicare is broken. Second, dumping this on the "rich" is also wrong. I served as an NCO for 12 yrs, started a small business and now that I am successful I am going to be punished? instead of hiring new employees I am holding off to see if I can afford to in the long run. long time DNC contributor no more!

    July 16, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Operation Crush Rush

    Rush has been busy telling his wealthy listeners how to hide their money from being taxed.He says the rich should use tools like,"sub chapter S",offshore accts. and other hiding places.Isnt he a great American?

    July 16, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    Didn't the CBO say that the proposal would increase costs? Now stone face says more savings can be found? The absurdity of this is mind boggling.

    July 16, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. MatthewDetroit


    Survival rate for a male patient with Prostate Cancer in the US. 91%
    Survival rate for a male patient with Prostate Cancer in France. 72%
    Survival rate for a male patient with Prostate Cancer in the UK. 51%.

    Look it up folks. Social health care is SOCIALISM pure and simple.
    It does not work.
    Our health care is not perfect but it sure is not the worst in the world.
    I would argue that our system is in fact the best.
    It is not perfect. But it is still better than any other country.
    Wake up.

    July 16, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. Democrati Ignorati

    To T McKinley who said..."One of the big reasons why we are in the financial mess we are in right now is because of George W. Bush's tax cuts to millionares and billionares. These people should do the right thing and give all the money back so we can pay down the deficit."


    And what about the Bush tax cuts to the middle class? What about the restructuring of the tax code for the lower end of HH income, that made a larger group of people that pay no tax? Should all of them also give back the money?

    July 16, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Dale

    To help support health care – How about a 1% surtax (or surcharge) on all the money sent from the United States to Mexico and other countries

    July 16, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Andrew, Buffalo NY

    It's funny seeing all the ingnorant liberal Comments on here. Like Bush is to blame for the cost of this health care and Pelosi is a great women.

    People do some reading, the CBO (a non partisan group) says that ObamaCare will NOT, I REPEAT NOT, lower the cost for private insurance plans. Meanwhile, it will raise taxes on the middle class.

    This and Tax and Trade are a joke, like the DEM's. Now only if the Republicans could come up with some ideas.

    July 16, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. seebofubar

    Canadians cross the border to come to the USA to get advanced medical treatment. If they wait for their government to approve their treatment, they die. We have the best health care in the world for a reason, we have the best hospitals and doctors.Guess what, a Rolls Royce costs more than a Hyundai for a reason, it's the best car in the world..

    July 16, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  22. Zero.

    Tax for sure. Now you explore. Who is this girl? She is pelosi: the Old School mam.
    Who thinks your the old Delusionary of the Old-School scam.....

    July 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. Democrati Ignorati

    To GI Joe that said....."Stop the Bush/Cheney wars. That will provide $12 billion a month, $144 billion a year, $1.4 trillion over 10 years."


    Iraq war is coming to an end. Take a look at the past articles about troop pullout, etc. The only war going on is Afghanistan, which Obama keeps spending money in order to build up our troops there. Did you happen to see the article about sending MORE troops to the region??

    July 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |

    You go, girl! You are threatening the very basic core of the Repugnant party – ie tax breaks for the wealthy! Every single thing the Repugnants 'stand for' can be boiled down in essence to rewarding the wealthy. The rest (pro-life, gun rights, morality, conservatism) are simply covers for the true agenda. Watch the party of greed begin to raise its ugly head as the reality of the rich paying their fair share begins to sink in! Let the fun and games begin!

    July 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. Rob Stumpf

    The stimulus is a failure.

    The deficit is spiraling out of control, far higher than it was under Bush.

    Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea have all mocked this administration. Already. He's given the green light for Iran to build a bomb, palls around with Hugo Chavez, and slams Israel.

    The cap and trade nightmare is fortunately dead.

    Socialized medicine in this form is going nowhere.

    Our policy on Gitmo, Iraq, and Afghanistan is pretty much the same exact thing now as it would have been under Bush.

    Remember the plan to take toxic assets off bank balance sheets? The government foreclosure rescue plans? Me neither.

    Other than this, Barry's doing a great job.

    July 16, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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