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VAN HOLLEN: Ed, always good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: I guess the interpretation here with all of the news
packaging put together is that the Democrats want a tax deal now and you`d
be happy with that. Do the other stuff later. Where are we?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that`s exactly right. The president was crystal
clear in this campaign. This was not some side issue. This was central to
And he said to the Republicans in Congress -- look, pass the middle
class tax cuts right now. Don`t hold the middle class hostage to try to
get another round of extra tax breaks for higher-income individuals.
After all, Ed, I think everyone needs to recognize that the president has proposed that everybody -- everybody -- in the country gets continued
tax relief on the first $250,000 of income they earn. What the president
has said is let`s do that right now.
What Republicans are saying is uh-uh. Nobody gets tax relief on the
first $250,000 until folks with income higher get a bonus tax break on the
amount they earn above $250,000. That`s the Republican position.
All right. Can a deal be done without affecting the social program
benefits for millions of Americans? I mean, you know where the Republicans
are going to be. They want the entitlements on the table and they want
them there now. Where does that take us?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, Ed, what we have always said with respect to
Medicare, for example, is that the best approach is to reduce the overall
costs of health care in that system, which is why the Affordable Care Act
ended up changing the way we reimbursed hospitals. So we don`t simply pay
based on the volume of care people get. We pay them now more on the value
of care they provide.
That`s the best way to deal with health care. That`s not just a
problem in Medicare. We have rising health care costs in thCongressman, good to have you with us.e rest of the
system. The Affordable Care Act will begin to bring those down. That`s
the way to deal with these rising costs.
VAN HOLLEN: The Republican answer is not to reduce the cost, but
simply to transfer rising health care costs on to the backs of seniors.
That`s what their voucher plan would do. That`s what their other proposals
Instead of containing costs, they transfer rising health care costs on
to seniors whose median income is under $22,000.
SCHULTZ: So --
VAN HOLLEN: So, they`re insisting on another round of tax breaks for
very wealthy individuals and saying, let`s put the burden on seniors on
Medicare with median incomes of $22,000 and under.
SCHULTZ: So what happens to the automatic cuts to Medicare if we go
over the cliff? Don`t get a deal done, January 1st, now where are we?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, under the sequester provision, there are some
across-the-board cuts to some of the Medicare providers.
SCHULTZ: What about benefits?
VAN HOLLEN: No, it does not touch Medicare beneficiaries
SCHULTZ: OK. So you could go over the cliff and still be in good
shape as far as campaign promises and the mission here?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, as you know, we want to avoid going over the cliff
because you have the across-the-board cuts in other areas. So the
president is absolutely right. We want to replace the sequester with a
much more sensible, long-term approach.
But if Republicans continue to refuse to provide tax relief to 98
percent of the people, in fact, to 100 percent based on the first $250,000,
if they insist on driving us over the cliff, then the American people are
going to be left scratching their heads.
And it will become crystal clear, Ed -- just think about this.
January 1, January 2, January 3, the president goes around the country or
on national television explaining that the reason people`s tax cuts are at
risk is because Republicans are holding out for this extra bonus tax break
for folks at the top.
VAN HOLLEN: I mean, that`s just not sustainable.
SCHULTZ: The risk is you would run into another recession of if all the tax cuts were to expire and nothing is done about it. That`s the fear. Congressman Chris Van Hollen --
VAN HOLLEN: That`s right. That`s why we want to avoid.
SCHULTZ: -- great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.
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