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. Marc

    seebofubar –
    1st – 'Incentives' is with 'C'.
    2nd – You are right about the long list or lines or whatever is the reason that SOME medical procedures are not 'fast to get' (so to speak) in Canada. That's basically their Achilles' Heel and they are working hard to have it. Those who cross the border because they can't wait become just more public/political pressure for the problem to be solved ASAP, because they are forced to cross the border and PAY what the American hospitals demand for such procedures.
    In the meantime, many Americans cross the border and obtain (I don't know if legally or illegally) the help they need in Canadian hospital and clinics. Again, I don't know if what they do is legal or illegal, but they do it because they don't want to pay such bills in the US and even with all the bills of transport and accomodation in a foreign country, it's worth it.
    3rd – 'We have the best health care in the world for a reason, we have the best hospitals and doctors'? Dude are you on prescribed drugs?
    USA ranks in the very humble 37th position, not the 1st!
    Get your facts straight!

    July 16, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. John

    A business owner or somebody in the upper tax bracket that is going to be taxed will figure out away to hide their income in expenses. So that they don't show a higher income. Less income less tax but still the same money in their pockets it will just show up in a different area of the balance sheet.

    July 16, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. Saul

    Pelosi is the worst of the worst. She was good when the Dem's were a minority and she is downright scary when they are the majority.

    July 16, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. JS007

    To Andrew, Buffalo NY: under Bush the US was running $400B annual deficits in GOOD economic times – and he did not even count the cost of the wars in that. Further, the top 1% of American wealthy actually pay lower taxes than the middle class as a percentage of income. Are you seriously defending that? Even Warren Buffet said that the rich like him need to pay more.

    July 16, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  5. Obama only creates TAXES

    Pelosi equals Obama's TAX QUEEN and Congresses biggest LOSER

    July 16, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. kishen c.rao

    Fix health care first...then talk....if you want, surtax on rich...not on poor...use PAs (Physician Assistants), they are the best doctors...to cut costs...use NPs in practice...they see patients...these two are good doctors, to cut costs....let them practice independently in rural are practice setting...costs come down...ok...just tax on rich...fix health care it is needed and it is a must....in the nation...enough robbing...by doctors, hospitals, insurance, and pharmacy companies...ok...now a new group...called COB or some sort...how idiotic...

    July 16, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. Robert

    I remember for the stimulus bill the Dems crying Wolf and saying it had to pass that day or there would be a huge collapse. So it was passed and only a small percentage has been distributed. Now....gotta do the Health Care – it is so Obama will have more control than he already has on the banks. He can tell them who to hire or fire and he does. Same is coming for the Insurance Companys. Obama is a power monger and we, the United States of America will be far worse off as a result of it. The USA that we knew will be gone for a very long time unless in the 2010 cycle, Republicans take over and Pelosi is no longer Speaker!!!! At that point, the real recovery will begin!

    July 16, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. Flash in the Pan

    They really don't have a clue what they're doing, do they? And Obama wants it all rushed through, before anyone figures that out...

    July 16, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. DC Insider

    @Mike in MN Well said, I totally agree. I am always skeptical about these RUSH jobs were are seeing. Obama told us there would be transparency, and yet he on more than one occasion has posted a bill the night before the vote (1,000 pages in one night is a bit big) and then we vote.


    Anyway, I usually feel the CBO does a great job of analysis, I have a few friends who work there. They churn the numbers, and don't put spin on it. If CBO says its not a good idea, its probably not.

    July 16, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Maybe the bosses of these companies that are going to get their taxes raised should go to the parking lot and fire those with Obama bumper stickers so they can get the "CHANGE" they wanted.

    July 16, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. DC Insider

    @Matt, my thoughts exactly. Why is it that the members of Congress can opt of the plan. If it is good enough for the 26-40 million americans, why not them? It shows me they have no faith in their own bill.

    July 16, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Why is it that republicans authorized bush to spend trillions on an illegal war, over 950 BILLION on Iraq health care (its a fact, look it up) and yet hate to spend a dime on American citizens????

    July 16, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. Henry Miller

    As far as I'm concerned, the right thing to eliminate is Nancy Pelosi, at least from her seat in Congress. This woman doesn't care who she steals from as long as it makes her enough money to buy her next re-election.

    July 16, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Phat Elvis

    I am a Proud Democrat.

    I dont agree with this position; the rich should not be taxed any more than anyone else, which in our system means 39% not the 36 W gave his buddies.

    I do feel health care should be more than a priveledge, it should be a benefit we enjoy as Americans. I also believe there are better ways for paying for it, like reducing the defense budget, efficiencies in medicare, reduction of pork spending, termination of outdated government programs like farm subsidies to agribusiness, and efficiencies in medicare.

    The point is there is more than one way to skin a cat– lets start thinking more openly and not just on polar ends of the discussion.

    July 16, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. Steve, Columbia SC

    I pray you go down in flames with your "tax the rich" idea for financing more deficits and failed government troughs.

    July 16, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. DC Insider

    @JOE BLOGGS, actually trying to tax the rich only gets them to put more money into tax havens that the Government can't touch. I think your thinking is backwards on this. It is basic economics, lower taxes on the Rich has a better benefit in the long run. Go read the 2000 paper by Gruber and Saez, or even do some research about various Economists have said about it. You'll find your "Tax the Rich" statement may actually have the negative affect you want.

    July 16, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. T Mckinley

    I have an idea. Why don't all of you Rush-listening right-wingers who can't stand our new "socialist" (NOT) administration pack your bags and go live in Honduras?

    In Honduras, if a democratically elected President starts to lean a little too far to the left, they send military stormtroopers to his house, pull him out of bed at gunpoint, and ship him off to another country.

    Since this is exactly what many, if not all of you Rush-listening right-wingers would love to see happen to our own democratically elected President (NEVER GONNA HAPPEN), Honduras would be the perfect place for you all to go and live.

    Any takers?

    July 16, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. Skip, a black man

    WOW sounds like Johnnie is on crack!

    July 16, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. Phat Elvis

    Andrew, Buffalo NY July 16th, 2009 5:56 pm ET

    "Lastly, for all you ingnorant DEM's.
    Under Bush, the middle and upper class had the lowest tax rates in 80 years…. But the US had the highest EVER tax revenues. But don't worry thats not something you'll see on MSNBC."


    July 16, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Enough

    Miss Super Tax and Spend we cannot afford anymore taxes, we already pay more than enough. Why not have those who need the health care, pay for it, like premiums. Time for everyone to be responsible for themselves! Crazy idea, isn't it?

    July 16, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. Obama=disaster

    Let's just give the "rich" another reason to move out of this country and take the jobs and tax revenue they provide with them. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. There comes a point where enough is enough. All you jealous losers think you have a right to money you didn't do a thing to earn.

    July 16, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. ED FL

    The best way to get a good health plan is to get one that the politicians and other government workers are the first to join and be required to enroll at thhe same out of pocket price that the rest of the country has to pay. GOOD LUCK ON A HEALTH BILL THIS YEAR.

    July 16, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. jeff in Atlanta

    As soon as congress and the president agree to be covered by the government option i will be for it. As long as it is good enough for all of us but not them, I can tell them where to put it.

    July 16, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. AJ

    Work hard, become educated, do well and make some money and this cow and her cohorts in congree want to punish you. Please. Go with a flat sales tax on everything and tax will be distributed more fairly.

    July 16, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  25. Kathy

    Obama keeps referring to "patients taking personal responsibility for their health care" What part of personal responsibility is "let's make someone else pay for it?" This should be funded by a drastic increase in taxes on tobacco. It's your fault if you get cancer from smoking. Everyone knows it causes cancer. So you should pay for it, in advance. It's not some "rich person's fault" – it's yours. Take personal responsibility.

    July 16, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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