House Freshman: Tax Increases Are Not Answer To Health Care



Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) explained to CBS News' Nancy Cordes on Tuesday's "Washington Unplugged" why the tax increases in the House version of the health care bill give him (and at least twenty two other freshman Democrats) pause.

"Looking at a tax increase before we have rung out every possible cost savings, I think is a mistake," he said.

The portion of the House of Representatives' 1,018 page health care reform bill which Connolly and some other Democrats have questions oppose states that individuals making over $280,000 and households making over $350,000 annually may see a tax increase of up to 5.4 percent.

Connolly represents the wealthy Fairfax district in northern Virginia. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said that while the White House says the bill raises taxes for just 1 percent of the U.S. population, 14 percent of the households in Connolly's district will be affected -- and "they all vote."

He defended those who would be taxed by the House plan, noting that many of those considered "wealthy Americans" are small business owners and double-income families.

"This isn't just the super wealthy," he said. Connolly added that his constituents want to see health care reform but are not convinced all other options have been explored.

As president of the freshman class in the House, Connolly has led a group of Democrats in questioning the tax portion of the bill and has received an audience with President Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

Connolly said that the White House wants to "preserve as much fluidity as possible so that they can inject themselves at the appropriate time in the legislative process."

Dissident Democrats have proven to House leaders that they have the political capital to affect the bill, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently said she would consider increasing the threshold for those would see a tax increase.

"She has been kind in listening to the freshman," Connolly said.

He added that he and most of his collegues want to find "a path of getting to yes" in voting on the proposed legislation and urged insurance companies to find a way to contribute to the cost of reforming the system.

Watch the full interview above.