Question: Americans consistently say they are most concerned about the cost of their healthcare. What kind of guarantee can you give that insurance companies or doctors or hospitals won’t charge Americans more if this legislation becomes law?IB - Madame Speaker, do you even have a clue what percent of premiums are currently spent on benefits? Do you really believe you can increase benefits and produce lower premiums at the same time? What planet are you from?
Pelosi: The purpose of the legislation is to lower costs for individuals ... for businesses so they can be competitive ... and for the federal government.... Putting ... more people in the mix, as well as improving the insurance coverage for many more people, we believe that will lower the cost.... Right now an insurance company can take the premiums it gets and spend whatever percentage on benefits. Under this bill, 85% of those premiums must be spent on benefits....
What would you say if Congress was limited by law to spending no more than 85% of tax collections for the fiscal year? Why does Congress get a free pass when it comes to setting the rules of operation?
The increased number of people who are in the [insurance] pool who are healthier and younger who have not had access to health insurance — that volume will contribute to lowering costs, as well.... And prevention saves billions and billions and billions of dollars.IB - Mandated coverage may well bring more young, healthy folks into the mix but it will also bring folks in who currently are not insured due to health issues. Do you really believe adding a young healthy individual will offset an obese smoker with COPD? How will you enforce prevention and healthier lifestyle?
Question: Wealthy Americans already pay the most taxes. They may be best able to help lift the economy out of recession. Yet the House bill contains a large tax hike on the wealthy. Is that wise right now?IB - Do you have a clue as to what percent of income tax collections come from the wealthy?
What we are saying is, let’s leapfrog over the middle class to the wealthiest people in our country. They’ve had it pretty good the last eight years in terms of tax policy under President Bush. And we think that’s a place you can go.
"In 2005, the top 5 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income of $145,000 and higher, paid 60 percent of all federal taxes; in 1999, it was 55 percent. The top 10 percent, earning income over $103,000, paid 70 percent. The top 25 percent, with income of over $62,000, paid 86 percent, and the top 50 percent, earning $31,000 and higher, paid 97 percent of all federal taxes."
The wealthy are already paying 60% of tax collections. What is a reasonable amount? 90%?
Question: President Obama still seems to be playing the role of cheerleader rather than insisting on specific proposals. Should he be clearer about what he will and will not support?IB - Are you his lap dog? Do you seriously think the people who elected you and the other 534 members of Congress want to be saddled with trillions of dollars in debt that will be passed on for generations? Are you capable of independent thought or do you just like to come across like a person who has had a frontal lobotomy? Are you able to say no? Were you always "easy"?
We are very receptive to what he wants. Now we just received a letter that said he is interested in [a new independent commission to take over Congress’ control of how Medicare pays providers]. Some in our caucus have been for that, some against.... Since it is something he wants, we are trying to figure out a way to accommodate that.