Obama Flip-Flopping on Tax Hikes?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is President Obama going to break his promise, his campaign promise to you about your taxes? We report, you decide. Listen carefully to what President Obama said during the campaign.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase -- not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.


VAN SUSTEREN: Now listen to David Axelrod, one of the president's top advisers, yesterday on ABC News.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "THIS WEEK": You know the Senate is looking especially at this issue of capping the deductions for health care that employers and employees now get. That would be a tax increase for many families earning under $250,000, but the president said he was open to it. So that means that the tax pledge he made back in September is no longer operative?

DAVID AXELROD, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Well, George, first of all, there are a lot of different formulations of that plan. The president has said in the past that he doesn't believe taxing health care benefits at any level is necessarily the best way to go here. He still believes that, but there are a number of formulations, and we'll wait and see.


VAN SUSTEREN: So is a campaign promise about to be broken? Joining us live is Alexis Glick, vice president of business news for FOX Business Network. Alexis, David Axelrod didn't say absolutely not, he just sort of talked around and around and around and around. I am not sure what he said, but he sure didn't say no.

ALEXIS GLICK, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Oh, of course not, because, look, as he said, he's not going to draw a line in the sand. It was interesting watching President Obama there. It was very reminiscent to 1992, watching President Bill Clinton. Remember at the time when he talked about the middle class, he talked about those earning $80,000 or less. P.S., the State of the Union, 1993, he talks once again a big game, but then realizes ultimately, he's got to balance the budget. What happened by August '93? Well, taxes rose even for those who he defined as the middle class.

Now, they didn't raise it (INAUDIBLE) substantially, but I think we're going to see that happen all over again here. You make promises on the campaign trail. The economy is in a different situation. And if you look at the most recent CBO report, the Congressional Budget Office came out with a report on Thursday night that got glossed over. Greta, it's ugly. It's really, really ugly, and the fiscal situation right now is unsustainable.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I mean, but last fall, when he made that statement that there would be taxes increased for people making under $250,000, it was quite clear where our economy was headed. We were already in a recession. Where -- if he doesn't tax people, including people who make less than $250,000, how does he pay for this health care program that he has proposed?

GLICK: I actually -- to tell you the truth, Greta, I don't see any way around not taxing health care benefits, unfortunately. Look, he attacked Senator John McCain about this when he was on the campaign trail and suggested that this was the root (ph) of taxes for the middle class. What we've seen thus far from Senator Baucus, Senator Conrad, Kent Conrad, the likes of Charles Grassley, they're talking about different levels of concessions. The concessions they're talking about right now are major cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. They've received some concessions from the pharmaceutical industry. They're working on different health care and hospital operators. But all those concessions combined are not going to pay for what they believe is going to be a trillion-dollar plan. The CBO is estimating it could be $1.6 trillion.

We cannot afford to figure out how we're going to pay for health care reform before we actually enact it into law. They've got a tremendous amount of work to do. That's precisely why I think this administration is getting out there and saying, Look, all things are on the table, because they know if they don't put everything on the table, they're not going to get health care reform.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about efficiency? If we got more efficient, does that in any way sort of relieve the president in the sense he wouldn't have to necessarily tax people below $250,000 because he said he wasn't going to? I mean, if we get -- if we're in more efficient delivery of health care, have they factored that in? Have they looked at that?

GLICK: Well, you know, look, he's doing things like health care bills. I think the numbers are between $20 billion and $40 billion directed toward upgrading health care, things of that nature, technology, et cetera. But look, the bottom line here is what they're suggesting is that those Americans who have the premium-type packages, those with $17,000 in premiums or higher, would be the ones taxed. The unfortunate thing here is that about 40 percent of Americans have those premium-style packages. Oh, and by the way, unions, which represent 12.4 percent of American, well, they wouldn't be subject to these tax increases. You can see an uproar brewing already. So no matter how...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that would enrage people.

GLICK: Yes...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... if less than a year out, he's already violated that very specific promise to the American people and then the unions get a pass, I can assure you the American people are going to be -- everybody but the unions is going to be very distraught about that. But we got to go. Alexis, as always, thank you.

GLICK: Thank you, Greta.

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