Schieffer: No tax increase on people who made under 250,000 dollars.On missile defense (Obama also talked about Afghanistan):
Schieffer: No payroll tax, no capital gains …
Schieffer: … no tax of any kind on Americans. Can you still make that promise to people today?
Obama: I can still keep that promise because, as I've said, about two-thirds of what we've proposed would be from money that's already in the health care system but just being spent badly. And as I said before, this is not me making wild assertions.
You know, you always hear about waste and abuse in Washington and usually it doesn't mean much because nobody ever finds where that waste and abuse is. This is money that has been directly identified that the Congressional Budget Office, that Republican and Democratic experts agree is there, that is not improving the quality of our health. So the lion's share of money to pay for this will come from money that's already in system.
Now, we are going to have to find some additional sources of revenue for the other third or so of the health care plan. And I've provided a long list of approaches that would not have an impact on middle class Americans. They're not going to be forced to pay for this. Insurance companies, drug companies are gonna have to be ponying up, partly because right now they're receiving huge subsidies from folks.
Schieffer: But aren't they going to then pass it on to consumers? I mean that's what you know the Chamber of Commerce is saying. They're starting a big ad campaign right -
Schieffer: - now, they're saying you're gonna put these taxes on these insurance companies on people that make things like X-rays and lab tests and all of that and they're just going to turn right around and pass it right on to the consumer.
Obama: Here's the problem, they're passing on those costs to the consumer anyway. The only difference is …
Schieffer: But this would be more
Obama: No, the difference is that they're making huge profits on it, Bob. I mean, let's take the Medicare HMO programs that are being run by insurance companies. It's estimated by everybody that they're overcharging by about 14 percent. This amounts to about $177 billion over 10 years. About $17 billion a year, $18 billion a year. That's just going to pad their profits, hasn't been shown to make Medicare recipients any healthier. And in fact because those huge subsidies are going to insurance companies, Medicare recipients are not getting a good deal. Now if we are enforcing what should be the rules around Medicare and making sure the people are getting a bang for the buck, it's not going to be possible for insurance companies to simply pass on those costs to Medicare recipients because ultimately it's Uncle Sam that's paying for those services anyway.
Look, bringing about change in this town is always hard. When you've got special interests that are making billions of dollars, absolutely they're gonna want to keep as much of that, the profits that they're making, as possible. And by the way, those insurance companies even during these down years have been making terrific profits. We don't mind them making profits, we just want them to be accountable to their customers.
Schieffer: You announced yesterday a major change in American strategic strategy when you said that we would not go forward with the missile defense system that would be there on the border of Russia. The Russians saw that as a poke in the eye from the very beginning. But even people who agree that that missile system is out of place are asking questions. Shouldn't you have tried to get something from the Russians in exchange for doing that?
Obama: Well keep in mind that when George Bush announced his strategy for putting missile defense in place, in the Czech Republic and in Poland, I said at the time I think we need missile defense but I want to make sure it works, that it's cost effective, that the technologies are operable, that it's our best possible strategy. And that hadn't been shown. So when I came in I asked the same people who had signed on first one - Bob Gates, my Secretary of Defense, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff - tell me given the intelligence you have now and the technology we possess and what we know about the Iranian threat, which always been our main concern, not Russia, tell me if the system that we've designed is the best possible system. And they came back to me and said, you know what, given what we know now we actually think that this is a better way of doing it. So we're not eliminating missile defense - in fact what we're doing is putting a system in that's more timely, more cost effective, and that meets the actual threats that we perceive coming from Iran.
Russia had always been paranoid about this, but George Bush was right, this wasn't a threat to them. And this program will not be a threat to them. So my task here was not to negotiate with the Russians. The Russians don't make determinations about what our defense posture is. We have made a decision about what will be best to protect the American people as well as our troops in Europe and our allies. If the by-product of it is that the Russians feel a little less paranoid and are now willing to work more effectively with us to deal with threats like ballistic missiles from Iran or nuclear development in Iiran, you know, then that's a bonus.
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