Speaking on the Sunday morning shows, neither Tim Geithner nor Larry Summers would rule out the prospect of higher taxes to pay for healthcare:
AP: Geithner and Summers both sidestepped questions on Obama’s intentions about taxes. Geithner said the White House was not ready to rule out a tax hike to reduce the federal deficit; Summers said Obama’s proposed health care overhaul needs funding from somewhere.
“There is a lot that can happen over time,” Summers said, adding that the administration believes “it is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out, no matter what.”
During his presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly pledged “you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.” But the simple reality remains that his ambitious overhaul of how Americans receive health care — promised without increasing the federal deficit — must be paid for.
Here’s the problem. It’s not that higher taxes to pay for healthcare are inherently a bad idea. Indeed, if the idea is to expand coverage and leave nobody uninsured then of course reform is going to be expensive. The problem is that it acknowledges the plan has no solution on the cost side. We keep hearing about how we need to bend the cost curve down so that medical care doesn’t swallow up all of our money and bust the deficit. So while we might be able to handle things on the government side, via taxes, it means that overall we’re making no progress on costs — just paying for it in a different way.
Anyway, Republicans will go crazy with the latest statements. We applaud their honesty, but the messaging on healthcare continues to be awful.
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