ABC News' David Chalian reports: One Blue Dog Democrat in the House made clear today that he is unlikely to support President Obama's health care reform plans unless it is revenue neutral and does not add long-term debt to the nation's balance sheet.
In an appearance on ABC News Now's "Politics Live," Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., a constant Republican target because of his district's conservative tilt, suggested that avoiding additional debt is a greater priority for the country's economic health than providing universal health care coverage for all Americans.
"Frankly all of us would like to see more Americans have access to health care and there will be a lot of different arguments concerning the appropriate plan, but I think there's a larger issue on the table now and I think the President has a real opportunity to show some leadership with regard to that issue, and it's the long-term fact that our budget just isn't sustainable," he said. "Increasing spending without coming up with revenue that matches that spending or cutting spending some place else is just not the direction that we need to head in. We've been doing that too long now. We're addicted to debt, we ran up debt unbelievably during the Bush administration years, and I hope the administration will show some real leadership and head this country towards a sustainable course in the long run."
President Obama's stimulus package got near unanimous Democratic support in the House and not a single defection in the Senate. But the rumblings from Democratic Senators Conrad and Baucus over some proposed tax increases and from Blue Dog Democrats in the House over some of the spending proposals seem to indicate that the White House may not be able to hold its party together as impressively over the budget.
ABC's George Stephanopoulos pressed OMB Director Peter Orszag about the Obama administration's plan B if Congress doesn't approve the tax increases on wealthy Americans to pay for health care reform. Orszag said their goal is to accomplish health care reform without adding to the deficit, but made clear that the top priority must be getting health care reform accomplished this year and avoided revealing any backup plan for how to pay for it.
ORSZAG: "We're going forward with health care. We're going to get health care reform done this year. I think this proposal will get enacted. But if it -- if it doesn't, then we're going to need to come up with some other offset."
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congress will have to fill the hole. But what if they don't?
ORSZAG: "Look, we want to get health care reform done this year, and we want to do it in a way that doesn't add to the deficit and that also helps bend the curve over the long term."