Top House Progressive Says Obama Is Violating Campaign Pledge

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House Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has a number of issues with President Obama. But chief among them seems to be that, though they’ve stayed silent on a whole host of health care issues, they’ve thrown their weight behind a controversial tax in the Senate bill–one that Grijalva says violates Obama’s solemn campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.

I asked Grijalva whether the White House’s support for the Senate health care bill’s excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” insurance policies is compatible with his promise on the campaign.

“No, it’s not,” Grijalva said.

Grijalva noted that, though the tax applies to very expensive insurance policies, many of the people who benefit from those policies are squarely in the middle class, adding that insurance companies will shift the burden to people who have less generous plans.

It sets up a situation, Grijalva said, where the middle class is subsidizing poor people. “You’re building a class conflict that doesn’t need to happen,” he said.

Given Obama’s campaign stance, it also creates political problems, including for rank-and-file Democrats.

“We’ve got to go back every two years,” Grijalva told me. “We’ve got to explain this bill now and at election time.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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