Congressional leaders quickly reacted to President Barack Obama's speech intended to rally support for a healthcare overhaul and in which Obama reiterated a pledge not to support any new taxes that would hit the middle class. Obama's steadfast opposition to a tax on health benefits has rankled some lawmakers who had hopes of using such a levy to help defray the expected $1 trillion overhaul price tag.
“If he follows through on his promise, he will veto the House Democrats' bill because the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it will make healthcare more expensive than ever before and adds nearly $240 billion to the deficit,” Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a written statement.
From his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) issued a statement that supported Obama's remarks. “We've heard countless heartbreaking stories of our worsening healthcare crisis, and tonight President Obama emphasized that decades of inaction have to end,” Kennedy said. “We will not rest until the full promise of quality, affordable health insurance for every American is achieved.”