Five Dem Senators say health care bill violates Obama no taxes pledge

By: MARK HEMINGWAY
Washington Examiner
12/16/09

Last night, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, asked his fellow senators to help enforce a promise President Obama made during the campaign: No tax increases on families earning less than $250,000 and individuals earning less than $200,000. He didn’t get much help from the president’s own party.

Crapo filed a motion to send the Senate’s health care legislation back to committee until the bill could be said to comply with that promise. Currently, the Senate bill is financed through billions in new taxes, many on health care providers that will pass costs on to consumers — but the bill also taxes on high-cost “cadillac” insurance plans, which would amount to a tax on the health care policies of many middle-class taxpayers and union workers who currently have such policies.

Crapo’s motion failed 45-54. But significantly, five moderate Democratic senators — Bayh, Cantwell, Klobuchar, Lincoln, and Ben Nelson — did vote for it. In effect, they acknowledged that the bill will raise taxes on the middle class. If health care legislation is to pass, Democrats will need every vote of their sixty senators. If any of these five Senators they vote for the Senate’s health care reform bill in the end, they will be doing so having agreed that the bill raises taxes and is in violation of the president’s famous campaign pledge.

In any event, the five senators who broke ranks to support the Crapo amendment have irked the Senate Democratic leadership. “I urge my colleagues to recognize the Crapo motion to commit for what it really is, and what’s that? It’s an attempt to kill health care reform. That’s all it’s all about. Nothing more, nothing less,” said Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., the Senate Finance Committee chairman who had a leading role in crafting the health care bill.

Perhaps Baucus ought to consider what this tells us about the Senate’s health care proposal. If you can’t ensure that it complies with the President’s pledge not to raise taxes without killing the bill and starting over — maybe the bill does deserve to die.

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