Obama trying hard to get healthcare back on track
President Barack Obama is pushing hard to get health care reform back on track after it veered a bit off course while he was in Europe last week.
He has spent the better part of the week pushing the issue. First he went after “nay-sayers and cynics,” warning them “don’t bet against us.”
“I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone: We are going to get this done,” he said. “Inaction is not an option.”
Then he stood with nursing leaders in the Rose Garden and tried to buck people up.
“It’s time for us to buck up Congress, this administration, the entire federal government to be clear that we’ve got to get this done,” Obama said. “Our nurses are on board. The American people are on board. It’s now up to us.”
The last couple of days he has been meeting with lawmakers, listening to their concerns about the legislation and prodding them to action — not always to good effect.
Maine Senator Olympia Snowe said she told the president Thursday his goal of passing a bill early August wasn’t realistic.
“It is important for us to take the time to work through these issues,” she said after a White House visit. “I thought it was overly ambitious to accomplish passing it on the Senate floor before the August recess.”
Obama would like the House and the Senate to pass their versions of the legislation before beginning a month-long break in early August.
That would put them on track to reconcile the two measures in September and send Obama a final bill by his target date of mid-October.
One big hitch is how to pay the $1 trillion 10-year price tag.
Obama wants to pay for it primarily by wringing savings out the current system, which costs $2.4 trillion annually, twice that of any other nation. He’s suggested hundreds of billions in cuts and savings.
If additional revenue is needed, he has proposed reducing itemized tax deductions for those earning over $250,000.
The House measure would impose a tax on families with incomes greater than $350,000. The tax begins at 1 percent and hits 5.4 percent for millionaires. It would raise $544 billion over 10 years.
Some senators favor taxing more lavish employer-paid health insurance benefits. Workers are not currently taxed on payments their employers make for health insurance, which makes it a popular benefit. Obama opposes taxing insurance benefits, so the Senate is not considering other tax measures.
What do you think? Are we moving too fast on health care reform, and what’s the best way to pay for it?
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama boards Marine One on Thursday)