Meet the Press   |  January 01, 1910

Biden on financing health care reform

June 14: Vice President Joe Biden discusses the president’s plan for health care reform with NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press.”

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MR. GREGORY: Well, let's talk about healthcare. Because if there's a fiscal train wreck, in the view of many, you're adding healthcare and insurance for everybody on top of it, which is expected to be at least a trillion-dollar new entitlement. How do you possibly pay for that?

VICE PRES. BIDEN: You pay for it by the way we've laid it out. We pay for it by eliminating some existing tax cuts that are out there, you pay for it by reforming Medicare and Medicaid , you pay for it by getting rid of the Medicare advantage . You pay for it by a whole range of things which we've...

MR. GREGORY: Including raising taxes.

VICE PRES. BIDEN: Including -- look, the taxes we're going to -- that we propose to raise, to raise $300 billion, says that people making over $250,000 should have the same deduction schedule that they had with Ronald Reagan . Instead of it being 39 percent, it should be 28 percent. That's how we come up with an additional $300 billion.

MR. GREGORY: Right. Will the president sign a bill that taxes healthcare benefits for employees?

VICE PRES. BIDEN: We made it clear we do not think that is the way to go . We think that is the wrong way to finance this legislation.

MR. GREGORY: So if the bill comes with that...

VICE PRES. BIDEN: But -- no, no, no.

MR. GREGORY: ...the president wouldn't sign it?

VICE PRES. BIDEN: I didn't say that. I said when the bill is going to come, this is the most -- this is going to be one of the most comprehensive changes in law since Medicare in the beginning. We'll have to see what the whole bill says. But we made it clear we do not believe you should be taxing, taxing the benefits that people receive through their employers now.

MR. GREGORY: Will the president sign a bill that does not include a public plan as an alternative to private insurance?

VICE PRES. BIDEN: Again, we've made it clear that we think there should be a public plan. But a public plan is on a continuum. For example, there was a, there, there was a, a big headline saying the AMA says they won't support a public plan and no one will support a public plan. Well, the truth of the matter is the AMA said certain kinds of public plans they might support. So the question is, what is the public plan? Is the public plan just, just Medicare ? Is that the public plan? Do you add everybody onto Medicare who is going to need help? Or is a public plan something further down the continuum? And I brought along the quote from the AMA . It says, "The AMA is willing to consider other variations of a public plan that currently are under discussion in Congress . These include a federally charged -- or chartered co-op health plan, or level playing field options."

The -- here's the reason for the public plan. You've got to have some competition, David . You've got to have some -- and by the way, people say there's a lot of -- in some states, some regions, there's not a lot of people competing.

MR. GREGORY: Well, you know, Republicans , and there's a lot of Democrats who say this is a nonstarter.

VICE PRES. BIDEN: I know that. But look, if we started off everything we thought we should do by the Congress saying that this is not something we're going to accept...


VICE PRES. BIDEN: ...and we said OK, we're going to start from, then we'd never get anything done.

MR. GREGORY: So if a bill comes without a public plan, the president doesn't sign it?

VICE PRES. BIDEN: Look, the bill the president is going to -- with the bill that comes, the president is going to look at the totality of the bill and he's going to make a judgment, like every president has to have, where the single most -- look, what's the reason we need healthcare? The reason we need healthcare is not just moral, it is a fiscal responsibility . We have health care going up over 50 percent per year premiums right now in the last seven years. Up -- not per year, 50 percent in the last six years. That, that breaks the budget. That makes us -- that keeps us bankrupt for a long time.

MR. GREGORY: The president wants public, a public plan in there.