Freshman Dems' leader: New taxes for healthcare must be 'last resort'

House Democratic leaders must examine more cuts in the healthcare system before they resort to a new tax to finance reform legislation, the leader of the freshmen Democrats said Tuesday.

"Looking at a tax increase before we have run up every possible cost saving, I think, is a mistake," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told "Washington Unplugged" in an interview. "I'm not convinced there aren't more savings to be had."

Freshman Democrats had signaled to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week that they wouldn't be receptive to a provision in the House healthcare reform bill that would impose a surtax on high-income Americans to finance the roughly $1 trillion package.

Connolly said there were more cuts and concessions to be made before new taxes, which he called a "last resort," could be put on the table. He said, for example, that more could be saved through negotiations with insurance companies similar to those President Obama had conducted with pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers.

"They need to put something on the table before we start talking about tax increases," said Connolly, the president of the 2009 class of Freshman Democrats in Congress.

He did reveal that constituents in his Northern Virginia district -- one of the wealthiest in the nation -- might be open to new taxes, but not before every effort was made to extract more savings.

"They're willing, I think within reason, to look at financing of healthcare reform, but they want to be convinced just as I do that we've wrung out every possible cost saving in of the system," Connolly explained. "And I'm not there yet, and I don't think my constituents are either."

Watch a video of the interview below:


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