MSNBC Discussion of Health Care Reform

Uploaded by StateMaryland on 23.07.2009

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is floating an idea to limit tax increases to couple's who only make
more than a million dollars a year. Now
my next guest actually came up with that idea, the millionaire's tax,
a year ago and he's in fact one of the real life inspirations for the mayor in the hit TV show The Wire.
Joining me now, live, is Maryland Governor Democrat Martin O'Malley. Governor O'Malley, good to see you sir.
Governor: Good to see you. I would take issue with whether or not on I'm the inspiration for The Wire.
I'm the antidote to The Wire.
Host: Well said. You ran the City of Baltimore, for 8 years I believe it was
with much greater success than The Wire demonstrates, but uh,
Governor: 40% reduction in violent crime, but thanks to the people of Baltimore.
Host: Not bad, in fact, the people elected you over an incumbent just a couple of years ago in 2006.
Governor, in ordered expand health care a year ago or so, you passed
something called a millionaire's tax
and now we hear Speaker Pelosi and others Charlie Rangel, and others on Capitol Hill talking
about expanding health care via tax. How difficult was that for you to get through?
And any thoughts for members of Congress on how they might expand our health care right now
given that we are in a critical period? Governor: Sure, it was all very difficult for us, I mean
we had to restore responsibility, fiscal responsibility, to our State. We did it sooner than other states,
like California and some others, and that's what's enabled us to maintain a AAA bond rating in Maryland.
Part of that restoration of fiscal responsibility involved a progressive income tax rate
that where, indeed, we did ask people to make more than a million dollars to pay a little more
in their income tax. We've now been able to cover 70,000 more people with health care
than we were able to before including many more children in Maryland. All of it was
difficult, all of that was unpopular, and none of that was easy, but I do believe that
fiscal responsibility is essential.
We can't, we cannot make progress on health care or anything else unless we're fiscally responsible
and have the dollars to pay for it.
Host: Governor O'Malley, I'm joined today by my guest co-host, Jean Chatzky, Who has a question for you.
Chatzky: Governor, as you look at the landscape what do you think the
actual chances that this millionaire's tax will get through both Houses of Congress seem to be?
Governor: Well, I think that President Obama's absolutely right in calling upon congress to address what has
been fifty years of inaction on health care. I mean you look at every family's budget
the average family according to one report
pays about $29,000 a year that comes out of their paycheck, out of their
family budget, for health care. Thats maddness we should be able to do what other
advanced countries have done to figure out a better and more predictable way that
we can all afford health care. So the actual fix to that
is something that President Obama, with his collaborative style of leadership, has
asked members of congress to join with them in figuring out
part of that is a millionaire's tax, and maybe that's a part of it but the goal should
be more affordable health care for all.
Chatzky: And yet Governor, thats the point that seems to be missing at this point. Republicans and Democrats alike
really seemed to agree on the fact that we need to reward
higher quality health care at a lower cost. That's not what we're talking about, we're simply
talking about raising taxes. Governor: Uh, I don't know about that Host: Is as part of that on the part of Democrats
frankly, the hesitation, at least on the Senate side, is it a fear that once again Democrats
will be labeled the tax and spend moniker
and if so, is there a way to break through that? How did you break through that in Maryland
in order to persuaded different legislators to back this millionaire's tax?
Governor: Well, it wasn't easy but what we continue to do was exactly what President Obama has
urged all of us to continue to do which is to let's focus on the goal, let's focus on
what an economic drain
this current system of health care is on every business person, every family, in our country
and let's fix health care. Sadly
I think too many Congressional Republicans are focused on breaking President Obama
rather than on fixing health care. So the way we're able to do it in Maryland was continuing
to stay focused on the needs of Maryland families, the needs of families to be able to take their
kid to the doctor, if in fact that somebody falls ill. And that's what President Obama,
I think, is trying a very hard to have all of us focus on.
This isn't going to be easy, but we have to focus on the goal, the goal is more affordable
and better health care. And Jean, I take some issue with you,I think some of the
things that are being proposed in the House version are actually things that over the long term
do stabilizer health care costs and reduce that cost. I mean, look at the cost of uncompensated
care in our hospitals. Very rarely do we see that mentioned in the in the forefront
but that's actually one of the places where we can see
savings over the long term in what the House is, is proposing.
But there's two Houses of Congress, right? I mean there's the
Senate and there's the House. President Obama has told us very clearly, as a leader should
what the goal is, and now we need people of good will on both parties to work together
on fixing the problem rather than trying to break his politics. Host: Governor O'Malley, we've got
to go. We've got 30 more seconds but I did want to ask you,
you've had a little bit more
good fortune in terms of closing your budget gap, versus, say, California,
uh, two or three thoughts as you look at the California crisis, 26 billion dollar budget gap
even the governor there said and partly closed it through accounting trickery, basically.
Governor: Well the, uh, fiscal responsibility is at the center of all progress that we hope to be able
to make. And, uh, some states, like California, have, you know, 25%, uh,
deficit that's 25% of their budget. In Maryland we're, uh,
working very hard to close a 5% gap. Most states are facing some sort of gap
because of this recession that President Obama's trying to pull us out of so, I, I think what
all states need to do is be honest with the people we serve, we need to
make cuts of things that are nonessential but we also have to have the courage to say look,
sometimes we do need to reform our tax code and sometimes ask people to pay a little more
in order that we might be able to give our kids a better, safer, more sustainable, and prosperous
world and that's what it's about.
Host: Governor O'Malley, thank you so much for joining us sir, and I hope that next time you're in New York you'll stop by the studio
Governor: I look forward to it. Thank you Mr. Watson. Host: Thank you.