Orszag: Energy Costs May Rise to Offset Health Care Reforms

By Jennifer Parker

Mar 1, 2009 11:24am

During our exclusive "This Week" interview, Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag said the President’s $3.6-trillion budget proposal may increase energy costs to offset the costs of health care reforms.

Republicans have taken aim specifically at the revenues in the budget package, specifically the $600 billion the government will receive by capping carbon emissions.

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich blasted the proposal this week: "How dumb do they think we are that they can pretend that an energy tax isn’t an energy tax, and they can pretend that every retired American who uses electricity isn’t going to pay it, and every person in New Hampshire who uses heating oil isn’t going to pay it, and every person who drives a car isn’t going to pay it?" Gingrich said Friday at the CPAC conference.

Today Orszag agreed the capping of carbon emissions is going to increase energy rates. But he said Americans are going to be getting other benefits in the budget.

"I think we have to be — let’s be fair about this. Either you’re going to look at what — what is collected through the tax code and what’s returned through the tax code.  And on that basis, there’s a tax cut for 95 percent of Americans, or you have to go all in.  Let’s also count the benefits that families get through Pell Grants, the benefits that they’ll receive through constraining health care costs, the benefits that they get from weatherizing their homes, and so on.  All in, this budget makes the vast majority of American families much better off," he said.

Orszag also said the president was open to the idea of establishing some kind of commission on health care.

"It’s clear that we need some changes in the process," Orszag said.

"And let’s, let’s focus on that, because it is the key driver of those long-term deficits. That’s why we need to get reform done this year. We can make our health care system much more efficient, and that is the single most important thing we could do to get those long-term deficits under control."

–George Stephanopoulos

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus