Gov. Schwarzenegger Backs President Obama's Health Care Goals, Not Plan to Pay For It

California's governor spoke to "GMA's" Chris Cuomo about health care reform.

July 22, 2009, 7:19 AM

July 22, 2009— -- President Obama's push for fast-tracked, health care legislation is meeting resistance from within his own party, but he has at least one governor from the other side of the aisle on his side -- Arnold Schwarzenegger.

With the state of California facing $26 billion in revenue shortfalls, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he has already had to make deep budget cuts that will, no doubt, be wrenching for some low-income families who are already struggling with health care.

"But the important thing at the same time is that the cuts are not just cuts," he said on "Good Morning America" today. "They're also coming from reforms -- very important reforms in welfare, for instance, or in in-home services."

Read the full transcript of Chris Cuomo's interview with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Here.

But while many governors don't support Obama's health care bill because of its potential impact to their state budgets, Schwarzenegger said he's committed enough to the president to "support him 100 percent in health care reform because I think it's necessary."

"It's inexcusable that we have 48 million people in the whole United States that are uninsured," he said. "So I think we need health care reform. And it has to be done the right way."

Schwarzenegger, who said he couldn't say he supported everything in the president's oft-changing bill, said he's enthusiastic about the idea of all Americans having insurance.

"And I think it's also important to put a lot of emphasis on cost controls because we got to bring the costs down," he said. "I think that he's right on the mark on that one."

Obama, who has pushed for House and Senate bills to be passed before the August recess, will discuss his health care bill in a prime ime address tonight. The president has seen his approval ratings slip in the face of his initiatives on health care, the stimulus package and the nation's budget deficit.

But Schwarzenegger isn't so confident in the president's proposal to pay for reform by putting the lion's share of the tax burden on the country's top tier of earners, which could be paying more than 55 percent of its income to the government.

"We have to pay for it, somehow," he said. "I think the trick is just to find a way of doing it so it makes sense."

And levying huge taxes on the nation's wealthiest, he said, is not a plan most will get behind.

Playing Politics With the Nation's Health Care Par for the Course

Obama is also facing resistance on the bill's proposal for government-run insurance programs that would compete with private plans.

In California, Schwarzenegger said he has tried bringing in money from a variety of sources, including the tobacco industry and the hospital association.

"So we kind of spread it and sprinkled the responsibility all over so that no one particularly gets hit too much," he said.

While the president has accused his opposition of playing politics at risk to the American people, Schwarzenegger said politics have always been a part of the process and this is no different. Republicans, he said, will use what tactics they can to prevent raising taxes.

"I think that is nothing unusual because every time you try to address the issues like that, you always run into this problem that people make decisions based on what's, you know, good for the politics," he said.

He applauded the president for campaigning for his bill, but said, "they key thing now is not to overburden people with taxes and all those things, obviously, because everyone is struggling."

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