Obama praises House health bill, but stays silent on taxes

President Obama praised healthcare reform legislation introduced by House Democrats on Tuesday, though he conspicuously eschewed commenting on new taxes on the wealthy contained within the proposal.

The bill contains up to a 5.4 percent surtax on taxpayers making over $1 million a year to help finance the legislation, which, at least in the House proposal, would create a public (or "government-run") option for consumers.

Obama still lavished praise on the legislation, saying it would "lower costs, provide better care for patients, and ensure fair treatment of consumers by the insurance industry."

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have signaled that they expect quick movement on the proposal in order to meet self-imposed deadlines before the August recess. Several House committees are expected to hold overlapping mark-ups of the legislation on Thursday.

Obama singled out several elements of the House proposal for praise, but made no mention of the reported tax increases. The president praised the expected $500 billion in savings from Medicare, guarantees of coverage despite pre-existing conditions, and the public option contained in the bill.

"The House proposal will begin the process of fixing what's broken about our health care system, reducing costs for all, building on what works, and covering an estimated 97 percent of all Americans," Obama said. "As this process moves forward, I look forward to continuing to work with all House members in ensuring this legislation helps all Americans and plays an essential role in reducing deficits and bringing fiscal sustainability to our nation."