You have to admire the confidence. “Don’t bet against us,” said President Barack Obama on Monday about the chances for healthcare reform. “We are going to get it done.” Not only that, Obama repeated his pledge that his plan “will not add to the deficit over the next decade.”
Sunny optimism may reign at the White House, but things are a bit gloomier over on Capitol Hill. An August deadline to get a bill passed looks likely to be broken. More delays mean lost momentum and rising odds that debate over the bill could linger into the tumult of the 2010 congressional election year.
What’s the hold-up? Money, of course.
At least half the plan — say, $500 billion or so over 10 years — will need to be paid for through higher taxes. But there have been few takers in Congress for either a) reducing the value of tax deductions for wealthier Americans or b) taxing employer-provided healthcare benefits.
The latest unloved plan is a surtax on high incomes, suggested by Representative Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. But influential Democrats in the Senate quickly hint they are cool to the idea.