Remarks on Obama's Speech and Public Option on CNN

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... >>> good morning, washington. we've got light rain and 61 degrees right there now. later today, showers and 68. because of the weather there, the moment of silence at the white house in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks will occur inside the east room as opposed to the south lawn where it's traditionally been. >>> welcome back to the most news in the morning. and the battle over health care reform, president obama pushing his agenda hard this week, but still a lot of questions about what that final bill is going to look like. our next guest might be able to shed a little bit of light on that. house majority leader steny hoyer of maryland joins us now from the capital. congressman, thanks for joining us. good to be with you. >> good to be with you. >> i want to start off by playing a moment that occurred earlier this week. you and the speaker of the house, congresswoman pelosi. let's take a look and i want to ask you about that. >> i'm not one of those that says, if you don't have a public option, it's not a good bill. i think it's a very good bill. i think the public option makes it much better. >> and i do believe that in order to pass a bill in the house, we will have a public option. this is the legislative process. >> so you said that a public option may not exactly be necessary. the speaker of the house came forward and said she really wanted to have it. what do you think. in the end here, if you get a bill out of the house, even if it has a public option, one out of the senate that doesn't, in the conference committee, are you prepared to drop this idea of a public option? >> look, there's no difference between the speaker and myself, number one. we're both for the public option and we want to see the public option in a bill passed from the house. we want to see a public option coming out of the conference committee. what i have said is there's a lot in this bill that is very good, in addition to the public option, and we ought not to just focus on that. however, our objective is to have, as the president indicated in his state of the union, an option that will bring down costs, will give people an option that they might not otherwise have to make sure that they have affordable quality health care accessible to them. so there's no difference and that is the objective. but this is the legislative process and we're going to have to talk back and forth, as the president indicated, on exactly how to get to that objective. >> but if push comes to shove, are you prepared to drop the public option to get a broader health care reform bill? >> i'm prepared to pass a health care reform bill that provides millions access to affordable, quality, health care. we think the public option is an important component of that. but obviously, you're going to have to have 218 votes in the house and you're going to have to have at least a majority in the senate to do that. we'll have to see how that legislative process goes. the public option is a priority for us, it's our objective, and we think that in some form, a public option will be available. >> all right. the other big question that people have is how is this all going to be paid for? the president said his plan would be about $900 billion. wants to make sure it doesn't add a penny to the deficit. he talked about cost savings and medicare and medicaid, fees on insurance companies and drug companies, but we had our health care economist paul kekly on earlier this morning, congressman, who said that the numbers just don't add up. that there's just not the money there to wring out of the system. >> let me say this. the president made it emphatically clear that he would not sign a bill that was not paid for. i want to make it equally clear that i'm not going to vote for a bill that's not paid for. so we'll work towards the objective of making sure that whatever additional costs are included in the bill are, in fact, offset by savings and by researches from the system. so that the commitment of the president is clear, our commitment is clear. the speaker and i both agree, this bill will be paid for. we're not going to add to the debt. >> so on the revenue side of the equation there, does that mean that a tax increase is inevitable. and if there is going to be a tax increase, who's going to pay for it? who's picking up the tab? >> well, of course, as you know, there are different proposals that have been made. the president talked about the one that the senate finance committee is talking about, which is a tax on insurance companies for policies of -- over a certain amount. that amount hasn't been set. there are other options that have been discussed as well. but the bottom line is, as we work through this over the next 6 to 12 weeks, we're going to make sure that it is paid for. that's our commitment. that's the necessity in my opinion, given the budget deficit that confronts us, and we're going to do it. >> i mean, can high income earners in this country, this morning, take away from this the idea that they will probably be subject to some sort of surtax to pay for health care reform, should it get passed? >> well, certainly, that's one of the proposals. as you know, that's included in the ways and means committee, which would, frankly, impact very few people in this country. we're talking about $350,000 of ...