So taxpayers are already putting this money into the kitty. The problem is they’re not getting a good deal for the money they’re spending. That takes care of about two-thirds of the cost. The remaining one-third is what the argument has been about of late. What I’ve said is that there may be a number of different ways to raise money. I put forward what I thought was the best proposal, which was to limit the deductions, the itemized deductions, for the wealthiest Americans — people like myself could take the same percentage deduction that middle-class families do and that would raise sufficient funds for that final one-third.
Now, so far we haven’t seen any of the bills adopt that. There are other ideas that are out there. I continue to think my idea is the best one, but I’m not foreclosing some of these other ideas as the committees are working them through. The one commitment that I’ve been clear about is I don’t want that final one-third of the cost of health care to be completely shouldered on the backs of middle-class families who are already struggling in a difficult economy. And so if I see a proposal that is primarily funded through taxing middle-class families, I’m going to be opposed to that because I think there are better ideas to do it.
Now, there are — I have not yet seen what the Senate Finance Committee is producing. They’ve got a number of ideas, but we haven’t seen a final draft. The House suggested a surcharge on wealthy Americans, and my understanding, although I haven’t seen the final versions, is, is that there’s been talk about making that basically only apply to families whose joint income is a million dollars.
To me, that meets my principle that it’s not being shouldered by families who are already having a tough time, but what I want to do is to see what emerges from these committees, continuing to work to find more savings — because I actually think that it’s possible for us to fund even more of this process through identifying waste in the system, try to narrow as much as possible the new revenue that’s needed on the front end, and then see how we can piece this thing together in a way that’s acceptable to both Democrats and I hope some Republicans.
Q Is it your job to get a deal done?
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely it’s my job. I’m the President. And I think this has to get done. Just a broader point — if somebody told you that there is a plan out there that is guaranteed to double your health care costs over the next 10 years, that’s guaranteed to result in more Americans losing their health care, and that is by far the biggest contributor to our federal deficit. I think most people would be opposed to that. Well, that’s the status quo. That’s what we have right now.