House Democrats Float Idea of Trigger for Tax Hikes To Fund Reform
House Democratic leaders are considering adjusting the surtax that is part of their health care reform proposal (HR 3200) to be implemented only if other provisions do not produce enough savings to cover the cost of the bill, CQ Today reports.
The legislation includes a graduated surtax that would affect the top 1.2% of earners.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Monday during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" said, "I don't think we have to have the surcharge at all," adding, "[A] lot of Democrats on my side of the aisle believe that" (Wayne, CQ Today, 7/20).
However, he added that he does not think the trigger will be in the final bill.
Clyburn said, "[W]e have said that because we think there is a chance that some funding may need to come far down the road, we could have this trigger in here for a millionaire tax cut, a trigger which we don't think ever will need to be pulled" (CongressDaily, 7/20).
In response, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) spokesperson Michael Steel said, "With two weeks to go before their self-imposed deadline for passing a bill that will radically alter nearly 20% of the American economy, maybe House Democratic leaders should get on the same page" (Wayne, CQ Today, 7/20).
The House Blue Dog Coalition has "expressed concerns" about the reform bill and continues to split support between Republican and Democratic amendments, CongressDaily reports (Wayne/Rubin, CQ Today, 7/20).
Members of the coalition expressed their preference for waiting for the Senate to complete its bill before the House passes its measure.
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), chair of the Blue Dogs' Health Care Task Force, said, "As we move into the more controversial parts of the bill, I think we would like to have a better idea of what could pass the Senate."
Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) said, "I think what probably needs to happen at this point in time is to stop and let the Senate work, and do whatever they're going to do -- to see what they are going to get, in a bipartisan way, working out of their Finance Committee." He added that House leaders do not have the votes to pass the bill "with the language they got now."
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Monday met with the Blue Dogs for several hours to discuss their concerns about the legislation.
Ross said, "We still have a long way to go" (Hunt, CongressDaily, 7/21).
According to the Washington Times, the measure would not pass the committee if the seven Blue Dogs and all committee Republicans vote against the bill (Miller/Haberkorn, Washington Times, 7/21).
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who is not a Blue Dog, said, "I've never seen the group so unified" (CongressDaily, 7/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.