‘Top Line’ -- Does Obama Need Bipartisanship on Healthcare?

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

As the debate over healthcare kicks into high gear in Washington this week, we spoke with Richard Kirsch, of Health Care for America Now, on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today.

With Senate Republicans signaling that a plan with a “public option” is a non-starter for most -- if not all -- of them, Kirsch argued that President Obama doesn’t need a bipartisan solution for him to fashion a successful bill.

“It really depends on whether Republicans want big healthcare reform, or they want to continue to defend the interest of the insurance industry and others who don’t want change,” Kirsch told us. “It’s not [about] bipartisanship by itself --and some people think, ‘Oh, if it’s not bipartisan then it won’t endure.’ Social Security’s endured for more than 70 years, passed the House with no Republican votes, [passed] the Senate with one Republican vote. It’s up to Republicans whether they want to get on the healthcare reform bandwagon or not.”

Kirsch’s group, which is advertising in congressional districts across the country in support of the president’s plan, opposes the concept of taxing healthcare benefits. That’s President Obama’s position as well, though some prominent Democrats have suggested that he’s open to changing his mind on that item to find a way to pay for health reform.

“We don’t think that makes any sense. We’re trying to control healthcare costs, and taxing people’s healthcare benefits doesn’t do that,” he said. “We think the best source for new revenues is raising taxes on people that make more than a quarter million dollars, closing Wall Street loopholes . . . ”Kirsch welcomes the president’s involvement in the details of the legislation: “It’s great he’s finally weighing in,” he said.

Click HERE to see the full interview with Richard Kirsch of Health Care for America Now.

Also today, we spoke with Christina Bellantoni of the Washington Times about President Obama’s foreign trip, and the renewed White House commitment to healthcare.

Click HERE to see the full interview with Christina Bellantoni.

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