Axelrod: Obama Won’t Rule Out Middle-Class Tax Hike

By Jennifer Parker

Jun 28, 2009 11:58am

White House senior adviser David Axelrod said the president won't rule out a health care reform bill that includes a tax hike on people making less than $250,000 a year.

"The president had said in the past that he  doesn't believe taxing health care benefits at any level is necessarily the best way to go here.  He still believes that," Axelrod told me on This Week, "But there are a number of formulations and we'll wait and see.  The important thing at this point is to keep the process moving, to keep people at the table, to the keep the discussions going. We've gotten a long way down the road and we want to finish that journey."

I pressed Axelrod on whether Obama will draw a line in the sand and veto any bill that funds health care reform with tax hikes for people making under $250,000 a year — despite a pledge Barack Obama made during the 2008 presidential campaign not to raise taxes on the poor and middle-class.

"One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking
to each other.  And you don't get anything done.  That's not the way the president approaches us.  He is very cognizant of protecting people — middle class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy.  And he will continue to represent them in these talks," Axelrod said.

"But they're also dealing with punishing health care costs, and that's something that we have to deal with."

The GOP point man in Congress on health care, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Ia., suggested Obama has his work cut out for him in trying to win over Republicans to get a bipartisan bill with his preferred public option that doesn't raise taxes.

"I'm asking, and I think the White House knows my view and the view of a lot of other Republicans.  Since the president denigrated John Cain's — John McCain's effort to move in this direction during the campaign, it's going to take, in order to win over Republicans, presidential leadership in that direction," Grassley told me.

–George Stephanopoulos

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