Despite earlier report to the contrary, Blitzer said Edwards proposes to "raise[ ] your taxes"

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On The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer correctly noted on several occasions that John Edwards' proposal for universal health care would raise taxes for only people making more than $200,000 per year. Nevertheless, at one point Blitzer told viewers that Edwards plans to "raise[] your taxes," suggesting the average viewer.

On the February 5 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer correctly noted on several occasions that 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' proposal for universal health care would raise taxes for only households making more than $200,000 per year, but Blitzer nevertheless teased an upcoming interview with Edwards by stating, "I'll ask [Edwards] about ... his ambitious health care plan and raising your taxes," suggesting that Edwards proposes raising the taxes of the average viewer. But as Blitzer himself reported later in the program, Edwards is proposing to pay for his health care proposal by not extending tax cuts for the highest-earning "3 percent of all U.S. households" -- a tax increase for those who "make $200,000 a year or more." Additionally, Washington Post White House reporter Peter Baker stated in a February 6 online chat that Edwards would simply "raise taxes to pay for his health care plan."

During the interview with Edwards, Blitzer noted correctly that Edwards had stated in his February 4 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press that, in Blitzer's words, he "would have to raise taxes on families making $200,000 a year or more." Edwards agreed and later added that "families that earn over $200,000 a year [would] lose the tax cuts they had under George Bush and go back to what the tax system that existed under Bill Clinton. But in exchange, we're going to have a more efficient health care system, a less costly health care system."

Similarly, commentator Jack Cafferty accurately noted the details of the funding scheme for Edwards' health care plan, only to formulate a question for Situation Room viewers that left out crucial details about the new tax. Cafferty explained that "Edwards says he'd free up $120 billion a year to pay for his plan by abolishing President Bush's tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year and by having the government collect more back taxes." But in posing a final question for viewers to answer via email -- a question repeated by Blitzer later in the program -- Cafferty merely asked "Can John Edwards be elected president by advocating raising taxes?" Cafferty added, "It's all in the semantics, I suppose, Wolf, but canceling tax cuts for people who have been living with tax cuts is a tax increase for those people. So that's the way we worded it."

Screengrab: CNN

In addition, during a "Post Politics Hour" online chat on washingtonpost.com, Baker responded to a reader who complained about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) recent proposal to use oil company profits to fund alternative energy by stating, "Democrats figure it doesn't hurt, and may help, to talk about taking oil company profits at a time of high gas prices." Baker then added: "Presumably more politically perilous may be former senator John Edwards's statement this week that he would raise taxes to pay for his health care plan." Baker did not explain that Edwards' plan calls for raising taxes only on households making $200,000 a year or more.

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the February 5 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

CAFFERTY: John Edwards wants universal health care for every American, but to do it, he's calling for a tax increase. The Democratic presidential candidate is out with the first detailed health care plan offered up by a Democrat running for the White House. Other candidates are expected to come out with their own ideas about how to help solve the health care crisis in this country.

Edwards' plan, which does address the 47 million uninsured Americans, aims for universal health care coverage by 2012. It's a combination of things, his program, including requiring all businesses to provide insurance. Edwards says he'd free up $120 billion a year to pay for his plan by abolishing President Bush's tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year and by having the government collect more back taxes.

So the question is this -- can John Edwards be elected president by advocating raising taxes? Email your thoughts on that to caffertyfile@cnn.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.

It's all in the semantics, I suppose, Wolf, but canceling tax cuts for people who have been living with tax cuts is a tax increase for those people. So that's the way we worded it.

BLITZER: And he's blunt about acknowledging that himself. And we're going to be speaking with him about this and the war in Iraq in the next hour here in The Situation Room.

[...]

BLITZER: And as Jack Cafferty mentioned earlier this hour, John Edwards is out with a new health care plan. The Democratic presidential candidate is proposing health coverage for all Americans. The 2004 vice presidential nominee says he would raise taxes on families making more than $200,000 a year to pay for the plan's $120 billion-a-year price tag. I will be speaking to Senator Edwards about his controversial plan.

[...]

BLITZER: But next: "The Cafferty File." Can John Edwards be elected president by advocating raising taxes? Jack Cafferty has your email.

[...]

BLITZER: Still to come, my interview with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. I'll ask him about his call for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, his ambitious health care plan, and raising your taxes. That's coming up.

[...]

BLITZER: Yesterday you were on Meet the Press and you acknowledged -- you said very candidly that if elected president, that in order to pay for your health care that you've announce today to put forward, that you put forward today -- that you would have to raise taxes on families making $200,000 a year or more. Is that right?

EDWARDS: That is correct.

[...]

BLITZER: But you're convinced that your health care plan, in effect, will be able to be paid for by this increase in taxes?

EDWARDS: For people who earn over $200,000 a year -- families that earn over $200,000 a year -- they -- they will lose the tax cuts they had under George Bush and go back to what the tax system that existed under Bill Clinton.

But in exchange, we're going to have a more efficient health care system, a less costly health care system. We're going to get rid of a lot of the administrative costs. Every single American will have health care coverage and every -- we'll bring down the costs of the entire system as a whole.

[...]

BLITZER: And you just heard Senator Edwards say he'd raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for universal health care. Across the United States, by the way, just 3 percent of all U.S. households make $200,000 a year or more. Here are the top five locations where wealthy Americans could take a hit.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes, Health Care
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
John Edwards, 2008 Elections
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