- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

Senate Republicans accused Democrats of violating President Obama’s campaign pledge not to impose new taxes on families making less than $250,000 in order to pass health care reform.

They argue that proposed fines for failure to purchase health insurance and a reduction in the tax break available for medical expenses will amount to new taxes on all Americans, including the middle class.

The Senate Finance Committee voted down a Republican proposal that would eliminate any new fees or taxes imposed on individuals making less than $200,000 or families making under $250,000. A similar proposal to further limit any fees or taxes failed also.

“That’s the promise the president has made to the American people,” said Sen. Michael Crapo, Idaho Republican.

“This legislation, the conceptual paper in front of us, does impose tax increases that people who earn well less than 250,000,” he said.

Democrats said they have proposed billions in tax subsidies to help the middle class purchase coverage and that meaningful health care reform will only work if all Americans have insurance coverage.

“It’s important to look at the whole story. The whole story is that there is a $40 billion net tax cut,” said Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. “We have to have shared responsibility. All Americans are in this, we all have to participate.” Democrats also accused Republicans of trying to stall health care reform.

“This is a message amendment. It’s not really substantive,” Mr. Baucus said. “In a sense, what you’re saying if you want to guy the president’s program. You want to guy health reform.”

The Republican amendments failed 11-12, with Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas joining Republicans in support.

During his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama pledged that no new taxes would be imposed on individuals making less than $200,000 and families making less than $250,000.

The Finance committee is expected to wrap up its debate over its health care reform bill late Thursday or Friday.

A vote wouldn’t occur until at least next week.

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