Pelosi Suggests Flexibility on Health Care Tax of Wealthy

Posted July 16, 2009 at 11:29am

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday suggested that a controversial tax hike on the wealthy that House Democrats have proposed to pay for health reform could shrink if lawmakers find more savings in the system.

“The surcharge that is on there is at the high end,— Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. “If we can get more savings, we can perhaps lower the percentage that the high end will pay.—

Moderate Democrats are pushing back on the proposal, citing both substantive and political concerns. Freshman Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) is gathering signatures on a letter to Pelosi that argues the tax would hit many small businesses and manufacturers. Others are quietly nervous they will have to vote for the tax only to see it replaced in the final package with whatever financing options the Senate cobbles together.

Pelosi on Thursday initially said lawmakers could cover the entire price tag of the package by finding more savings. “I believe that all the cost for the health care bill can come from squeezing costs out of the system,— she said. But she later said the tax is necessary because “we have to have a revenue stream to ensure that the bill is paid for.—

“If we don’t need that money,— she continued, “we can use it to reduce the deficit.—