Obama refuses to rule out surtax for health care

July 21, 2009 By ERICA WERNER , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- President Barack Obama is defending his relentless campaign for a health care bill before Congress's August recess, saying "the default in Washington is inaction and inertia." The Republican Party chairman assailed it as an "excessive push."

The fault lines in the debate emerging as Topic A in the capital remained intact Tuesday as Obama defended the deadline, saying the American people want the overhaul done quickly, and GOP Chairman Michael Steele demanded: "Take your time!"

At the same time, Obama remained noncommital on a surtax to pay for the overhaul, which some experts have said could cost over $1 trillion in the next several years to reconstitute and incorporate some 46 million uninsured into the system.

The president noted in an interview on NBC's "Today" show that "the House has put forward a surtax." And he repeated his feeling that wealthier Americans, "such as myself," should pitch in and help reinvent the system to spread coverage to those now without it.

Obama has said that people making over $250,000 a year should have to pay more, and he defended his insistence on getting a bill from lawmakers before they leave next month on their summer recess. Asked why he felt so strongly about the timeline, he replied, "because if you don't set a deadline in this town, nothing happens."

"And the deadline isn't being set by me," he said. "It's being set by the American people."

Whatever the pressure points in the argument, Steele said it's all happening too fast.

"It took a year and a half for us to create the Medicare system. Now we're going to do the entire health care system in two weeks or six weeks," he said Tuesday on CBS's "The Early Show."

"It is urgent and it is indisputable," Steele said. "The problem that I have with it is the rush that is under way here."

Obama acknowledged in the interview that right now are "not where they need to be." He has invited Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to a meeting at the White House later Tuesday and he has a primetime news conference scheduled for Wednesday night.

Asked about statements some Republicans have made indicating they think health care will damage his standing, Obama replied, "It's typical. ... Somehow people think this is about me. This is all about politics. ... All I can say is, this is absolutely important to me, but this is not as important to me as it is to the people who don't have health care. I've got ."

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

India has avoided 1 million child deaths since 2005, new study concludes

September 19, 2017
India has avoided about 1 million deaths of children under age five since 2005, driven by significant reductions in mortality from pneumonia, diarrhea, tetanus and measles, according to new research published today.

Gulf spill oil dispersants associated with health symptoms in cleanup workers

September 19, 2017
Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms including cough and wheeze, and skin and eye irritation, according to scientists ...

Today's US teens about three years behind '70s generation

September 19, 2017
Teenagers in America today are about three years behind their counterparts from the 1970s when it comes to taking up sex, drinking alcohol and working for pay, researchers said Tuesday.

Study suggests link between youth football and later-life emotional, behavioral impairment

September 19, 2017
A new study has found an association between participation in youth tackle football before age 12 and impaired mood and behavior later in life. The study appears in Nature's Translational Psychiatry.

Self-confidence affected by teammates, study finds

September 19, 2017
A person's confidence in their own ability varies significantly depending on who is in their team, according to new research from the University of Stirling.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

lengould100
not rated yet Aug 18, 2009
Unbelievable. Americans are like children, wanting health insurance for nothing. Of COURSE universal single-payer insurance is going to cause a rise in taxes. It's paying the full freight for a medical system which presently consumes 15% of GDP FROM YOUR PRIVATELY PAID INSURANCE PREMIUMS, WHICH WILL GO AWAY!!!

Problem is, they're worried that their wages won't increase an equivalent amount because their employer's will try to keep the premiums they presently have to pay. Put an adjustment for that into he law, and it would get a LOT more voter support, though not employers.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.