Clyburn: 'Cadillac tax' in healthcare would violate Obama's pledge

An excise tax on high-priced insurance policies might violate President Obama's pledge to not raise taxes on the middle class, House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Wednesday night.

"I do not want to see anything jeopardize the president's promise not to raise taxes on the middle-class," Clyburn told MSNBC. "And that could very well get us there."

The House healthcare bill to be unveiled today will not include such a tax, but the Senate bill does. Under the Senate bill, an excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" insurance policies would help pay for subsidies and expanded coverage. 

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President Obama endorsed the excise tax during his healthcare speech to Congress.

Labor unions fiercely oppose the tax, which they fear would hit hard at the benefits they've negotiated for members. While the tax would fall primarily on insurance companies, critics argue insurers would pass the cost on to consumers.

The House bill would instead rely on an income tax on couples earning more than $1 million a year and individuals earning more than $500,000. Obama pledged during the campaign to not increase taxes on anyone earning more than $250,000.

"I would hope that [Obama] would see his way clear to come toward us on this because we are way over--in fact, twice the $250,000 that he kept mentioning during his campaign," Clyburn said.

The South Carolina Democratic said that the House bill would include a robust public option and would have well over 218 votes by the time it comes to the floor.

"And by the time we get to the floor with this bill, we'll have much better than 218," Clyburn said.

He added that Democrats hope for a vote on the bill late next week and will work through next weekend if necessary.

"And so, I suspect that this will get to the floor maybe Thursday of next week, maybe Friday, and who knows. We plan to stay here over into the weekend to get it done if we don't do it next Thursday and Friday," he said.