To pay for a sweeping overhaul of the health care system, House Democrats will propose a surtax on individuals earning $280,000 and up and couples earning more than $350,000, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee said on Friday.
In all, the proposal is projected to generate roughly $550 billion over 10 years, which would cover about half of the estimated cost of the $1-trillion-plus health care legislation. The balance of the cost is expected to be covered by lower government spending on Medicare and other savings in the health care system.
But it remains unclear if the Senate would approve such an across-the-board income tax on the wealthy. Although some Democrats said they would gladly vote to tax the rich to pay for an improved health care system, most if not all Republicans and some centrist Democrats seem to be opposed.
The Ways and Means chairman, Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, said the surcharge would begin at 1 percent and would step up for individuals earning more than $400,000 and couples earning more than $500,000, and step up yet again for individuals earning $800,000 and up, and couples earning more than $1 million.
Lawmakers were also planning to insert language that would increase the surtax in 2013 if expected cost-savings in the health care system do not materialize.
And they won’t. So an increase is all but guaranteed.