by Jeff Woods
on Wed, Jul 15, 2009 at 1:38 PM
Here's the new TV ad titled "It's Time" from Barack Obama's campaign arm, which is trying to drum up support for the president's health-care reform initiative. Today, our own Lamar Alexander was one of the 10 Republicans who voted against overhauling health care in the Senate health committee. All 13 Democrats voted for it so it passed anyway in a landmark moment in the party's efforts to expand health coverage in this country. Alexander issued this "the-sky-is-falling" statement:
"This is the wrong first step on health care reform because it sets the stage for higher state taxes, more federal debt, government-run health care and Medicare cuts--and still leaves many Americans uninsured. Instead, we should have adopted the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill, which I cosponsored and which would give low-income Americans the opportunity to buy their own health care plans without creating a government program and without adding to the federal debt."
The financing of all this has yet to be decided. The House is looking at taxing wealthy Americans, but the Senate is against that. Alexander says the legislation would saddle the states with tremendous new obligations with a massive expansion of Medicaid. Tennessee, the senator claims, would have to impose a 10 percent income tax to meet the extra costs. More from Alexander:
"There's an air of unreality here. The language is, 'we'll shift it back to the states' as if the states had the money or a printing press. But this isn't just a little increase. This is a bankrupting increase for most states. Any Senator that votes to expand Medicaid the way it is currently being proposed in Democratic bills ought to be sent home to serve as governor for eight years and try to manage the program."
Update: Rep. Jim Cooper talks with Bob Schieffer about health-care reform. Cooper's against taxing the rich to pay for it: "Most people think it would never pass the Senate, so the House would be needlessly walking the plank on this."
Update II:Senate Democrats call for health insurers to pay fees worth up to $100 billion over a decade to help pay for the overhaul of the health system.