Budget battles brewing over Medicare, other entitlements

News outlets covered the reaction from Democrats and Republicans to the president's budget plan, to be officially released Wednesday. 

The Associated Press: Budget Not 'Ideal' But Has 'Tough Reforms'
President Barack Obama says his soon-to-be released budget, already criticized by friends and foes, is not his "ideal plan" but offers "tough reforms" for benefit programs ... Obama's plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 calls for slower growth in government benefits programs for the poor, veterans and the elderly, as well as higher taxes, primarily from the wealthy. Some details, made public Friday, drew a fierce response from liberals, labor unions and advocates for older Americans (Kuhnhenn, 4/6).

The Washington Post: Obama Budget Would Cut Entitlements In Exchange For Tax Increases
White House officials said Friday that Obama's budget would cut Medicare and Social Security and ask for less tax revenue than he has previously sought. The budget, to be released Wednesday, will fully incorporate the offer Obama made to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) during December's "fiscal cliff" talks -; which included $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases. On Friday, liberals expressed outrage that a freshly reelected president would concede so much (Goldfarb and Tumulty, 4/5).

Politico: Boehner Rejects Obama Cuts-Revenue Proposal
House Speaker John Boehner immediately dismissed President Barack Obama's package of significant new entitlement cuts tied to new tax revenues, calling them "no way to lead and move the country forward." ... The budget proposal sets Obama up for major fights on his right and left. Republicans will not accept any new tax revenues and liberal Democrats have already signaled they will resist any cuts to Social Security and other entitlement programs that Obama is proposing (Epstein and Robillard, 4/5). 

The New York Times: Obama Budget Is Dismissed by G.O.P. and Attacked by Left
"If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes," Mr. Boehner said in a statement. "That's no way to lead and move the country forward." At the same time, Mr. Obama's supporters on the left quickly vented their anger about his plans, saying they would not accept changes to Social Security and Medicare that would threaten the programs and harm beneficiaries (Shear, 4/5). 

Politico: For GOP, Obama Budget Too Little, Too Late
As word leaked of President Barack Obama's plan to include entitlement tweaks when he unveils his budget next week, Congressional Republicans on Friday said it won't bring Washington any closer to a grand bargain on the deficit. ... "It doesn't address the core structural problems: a dramatic growth in the number of beneficiaries congruent with a shrinking number of payees/taxpayers," [a senior congressional] aide said. "It is very unlikely to elicit dramatic movement on a grand bargain (Sherman, 4/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Budget Draws Fire
Still, some Republicans welcomed Mr. Obama's concessions on Social Security and other benefit programs, which he had previously offered in private budget talks. "I commend him for challenging his party on entitlements,'' said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). ... The Obama budget would cut $400 billion in spending on health programs over 10 years, including reduced payments to drug companies, among other things (Hook and Nelson, 4/5).

Reuters: Republican Senator Sees Obama Budget Offer As Positive
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday became the first prominent Republican to publicly praise, however lukewarm, the budget proposal the White House outlined last week. ... He was speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. ... Graham, a conservative who has deviated from party positions in the past, and has said he would consider raising up to $600 billion in new tax revenue if Democrats accept significant changes to Medicare, the government health program for elderly Americans, and Medicaid, the health safety net for low-income people (Viswanatha and Barbara, 4/7).

The Hill: Pfeiffer: Obama Budget Won't Push A 'Romney Economic Plan' 
Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday defended the president's budget plan to be unveiled this week, ... Pfeiffer on ABC's "This Week" pushed back against GOP criticisms that the plan withheld necessary entitlement reforms in exchange for even higher taxes, and said House Republicans were seeking to revive the economic plans of failed 2012 presidential contender Mitt Romney. .... Obama defended his forthcoming budget in his weekly address as "Not my ideal plan," but a "compromise" he was "willing to accept" (Mali, 4/7).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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