No New Taxes? Obama Signs Health Bill, Raises Tobacco Tax


KEVIN FREKING
Associated Press
February 4, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama signed a bill Wednesday extending health coverage to 4 million uninsured children, a much-needed win a day after he lost his nominee to lead his drive for sweeping health care reform. “This is good. This is good,” a smiling Obama said as he entered the East Room for the packed, ebullient signing ceremony.

  During the campaign, Obama promised not to raises taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 a year. It took him two weeks to break this promise.

The bill went to the White House fresh from passage in the Democratic-controlled House, on a vote of 290-135. Forty Republicans joined in approval.

The bill calls for spending an additional $32.8 billion on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, which now enrolls an estimated 7 million children. Lawmakers generated that revenue by raising the federal tobacco tax.

Obama said adding 4 million children to the program was a key step toward his promise of universal health care coverage for all.

“We fulfill one of the highest responsibilities that we have, to ensure the health and well-being of our nation’s children,” the president said before a cheering audience of families, lawmakers and interest groups. “Providing coverage to 11 million children is a downpayment on my commitment to cover every single American.”

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