Will Obama Still Finance Health Reform By Rolling Back Bush Tax Cuts?

The Politico is reporting that President Obama is planning a big push for health care reform “following passage of an economic stimulus package in February”:

President Barack Obama will convene a White House working session on health care reform in the late winter or the early spring, according to sources familiar with the plan…The health care meeting, which would bring together members of Congress and other stakeholders, could come as early as March.

Throughout the transition, Obama and his team reaffirmed their commitment to tackling health care in a big way and the president’s inaugural address was no exception. Twice Obama referred to the high costs of health care, promising to “restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.”

But how does Obama plan to finance his $50-$65 billion proposal? During the campaign he pledged to roll-back Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and that pledge is still on the official White House website, despite indications that he may delay the roll-back:

A Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility: Barack Obama will pay for his $50 – $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.

Bush’s tax cuts will expire in 2010. If health care reform is not implemented before then, Obama’s could presumably finance health care expansion through the revenue generated by their expiration and a wide-array of cost containment measures.

Still, the costs of inaction far outweigh the price tag of reform. Bringing everyone into the system, helping businesses afford health care coverage, insulating Americans from catastrophic health care bills and improving the quality of care will require a significant upfront investment in coverage and health care infrastructure. But it’s smart economic and social policy, well worth the investment.