NRSC - Hodes Backs Obama's Government-Run Health Care Plan: So How Will They Pay For It?

WASHINGTON – Last evening, President Barack Obama laid out his priorities for a government-run health care plan before Congress and pledged that “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future.  Period.”


Unfortunately for the President, none of the bills currently under consideration meets his deficit neutral criteria, according to non-partisan reports. According to the Associated Press, “Though there’s no final plan yet, the White House and congressional Democrats already have shown they're ready to skirt the no-new-deficits pledge.”


U.S. Representative and Senate candidate Paul Hodes (D-NH) has offered one potential option that he would be willing to support in order to pay for the President’s government-run health care plan: raising taxes on Granite Staters.


“Paul Hodes is adamantly in favor of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s government-run health care plan and he is willing to raise taxes on the families in his state to pay for it.  As New Hampshire continues to face an economic crisis, is this really the right approach from someone seeking higher office to the U.S. Senate? And will Hodes vow along with the President to reject any and all legislation that is not deficit neutral?” asked National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson.


Background Information


“Most Of The Proposals The President Outlined In His Speech Were The Same Changes He Has Championed Since He Launched His Effort To Fix The Health System In March. He proposed several steps similar to what congressional committees have already approved.” (Jonathan Weisman and Janet Adamy, “President Makes His Pitch,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/10/09)


“[I]n The End, A Speech Meant To Reset The Health Care Debate Ended Up Sounding In Large Parts Like Speeches Obama Gave Before, raising the question of whether the public heard anything Wednesday night to calm their nerves.” (Carrie Budoff Brown, “What He Said, What He Meant,” Politico, 9/9/09)


“Though There’s No Final Plan Yet, The White House And Congressional Democrats Already Have Shown They’re Ready To Skirt The No-New-Deficits Pledge. House Democrats offered a bill that the Congressional Budget Office said would add $220 billion to the deficit over 10 years. But Democrats and Obama administration officials claimed the bill actually was deficit-neutral.” (Calvin Woodward and Erica Werner, “FACT CHECK: Obama Uses Iffy Math On Deficit Pledge,” The Associated Press, 9/10/09)


“Many Experts Believe Some Seniors Almost Certainly Would See Reduced Benefits From The Cuts” Obama And Congressional Democrats Want To Make To Medicare, Particularly The 25% Of Medicare Users Covered Through Medicare Advantage. “Obama and congressional Democrats want to pay for their health care plans in part by reducing Medicare payments to providers by more than $500 billion over 10 years. The cuts would largely hit hospitals and Medicare Advantage, the part of the Medicare program operated through private insurance companies. Although wasteful spending in Medicare is widely acknowledged, many experts believe some seniors almost certainly would see reduced benefits from the cuts. That’s particularly true for the 25 percent of Medicare users covered through Medicare Advantage.” (Calvin Woodward and Erica Werner, “FACT CHECK: Obama Uses Iffy Math On Deficit Pledge,” The Associated Press, 9/10/09)


Paul Hodes Has Come Out In Favor Of A “Public Option” For Health Care. “U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2010, pledged to work in Washington on enacting a health-care plan with a public insurance option.” (Benjamin Kepple, “NH Democrats Revel In Majority Party Status,” The [Manchester, NH] Union Leader, 6/7/09)


Hodes Described The “Public Option” As A “Critical Element” Of Healthcare Reform. “‘I consider the public option to be a critical element of health care reform,’ he said. ‘It is absolutely important to introduce some competition to the health insurance companies. It is not going to drive them out of business, what it will do is lower everybody’s costs. That’s what we’re after.’” (Tom Fahey, “Hodes, Shea-Porter Not Wed To Public Health Plan,” The [Manchester, NH] Union Leader, 8/25/09)


Hodes Has Suggested Paying For Healthcare By Taxing Wealthier Americans, Saying “‘The Wealthiest Among Us’ Perhaps Should Shoulder More Of The Burden.” “Hodes, the 2nd District congressman who is now running for Senate, said that through insurance premiums and co-payments, insured Americans are now picking up the cost of health care for the uninsured and for waste in the system. He had previously said he is ‘very sympathetic’ to the stance of unions and others who don’t want to see health care reform result in a tax on the benefits of the middle class. ‘I think what people need to understand is that we are all paying right now, and through the nose, for a broken health care system,’ he said. Hodes called for ‘shared responsibility’ and said ‘the wealthiest among us’ perhaps should shoulder more of the burden.” (Lauren Dorgan, “Delegation Split On Health Care Fix,” Concord [NH] Monitor, 7/14/09)


Hodes Dismissed Opponents Of Healthcare Reform As Members Of The “Flat-Earth Society.” “In an interview with Foster’s Daily Democrat published on Friday, Hodes dismissed people who don’t support Obamacare as ‘the flat-earth society.’ Just to be clear, he stated that he was referring to ‘opponents of reform.’” (Editorial, “Hodes To The Elderly, You’re The Flat-Earth Society,” The [Manchester, NH] Union Leader, 8/31/09)


Hodes Spoke In Favor Of Using “Reconciliation” To Pass Health Care Reform. “‘Because health care reform is so important to the future in this country, because it is so necessary to cultivate a strong working economy, because we’re all paying too much and we can’t afford to wait, we may have to use the reconciliation process to move this bill past the Senate into a conference committee to get a bill to the president,’ Hodes told a friendly audience of about 80 people. ‘Health care reform is too important to be stopped by a minority that wants to preserve the status quo and keep on empowering the health insurance industry to get between us and our health care.’” (Shira Schoenberg, “Hodes Stresses Public Option,” The Concord [NH] Monitor, 8/25/09)


Hodes Was Unclear On Whether He Would Support A Bill That Does Not Include A “Public Option.” “When asked whether he could eventually support a reform bill that did not include a public option, Hodes responded that he wants to read the final bill before committing to what he would support. ‘I believe a public option is the best way to increase competition, deliver better quality and put people back in control of their health care,’ Hodes said. ‘If I can see some other way to accomplish that goal, it’s incumbent on me to keep an open mind because I don’t want to make the perfect the enemy of the good.’” (Shira Schoenberg, “Hodes Stresses Public Option,” The Concord [NH] Monitor, 8/25/09)