WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is defending his relentless campaign for a health care bill before Congress' August recess, saying "the default in Washington is inaction and inertia." The Republican Party chairman assailed it as an "excessive push."
The fault lines in the debate emerging as Topic A in the capital remained intact Tuesday as Obama defended the deadline, saying the American people want the overhaul done quickly, and GOP Chairman Michael Steele demanded: "Take your time!"
At the same time, Obama remained noncommittal on a surtax to pay for the overhaul, which some experts have said could cost over $1 trillion in the next several years to reconstitute and incorporate some 46 million uninsured into the system. He did reiterate his opposition to taxing people's employer-provided health benefits, however.
The president noted in an interview on NBC's "Today" show that "the House has put forward a surtax." And he repeated his feeling that wealthier Americans, "such as myself," should pitch in and help reinvent the system to spread coverage to those now without it.