Dodd, Grassley spar over health taxes

The author of a Senate bill to reform healthcare pushed back hard against raising taxes on benefits for American consumers, while a top Republican helping to negotiate a deal argued for leaving that option open.

"The idea of talking about taxing benefits at a time where people are already overwhelmed is, I think, a very bad idea," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said on "Fox News Sunday."

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Dodd asserted that between money already allocated for a deal and potential savings -- outlined in part by President Obama in his weekly radio address -- the funding is already there to finance healthcare reform legislation.

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said that taxes on benefits were a possibility, but added that it would take the intervention of the president, who railed against Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) favorability to taxes on benefits during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"I think for the benefit of making this bipartisanship, presidential leadership in this area would be very good," Grassley said.

The two sparred over savings, and whether or not the proposed cuts to other parts of the healthcare sector could achieve the savings Obama and others have claimed.

"I think we can reach that target, that will come somewhere in the area of $1 trillion to $1.2 trillion in the next 10 years," Dodd said, also touting the potential savings to be gained from preventative healthcare.

"Right now I could not put a figure on that kind of money," Grassley asserted, speaking about the unreliability of some savings numbers put forth. "There are some savings there that can be made and ought to be made. "