Health ReformPolicy & Law

Obama and Budget Director Certain on Most Facets of ’12 Budget (Just Don’t Ask About Medicare & Medicaid)

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President Obama has referred to Medicare and Medicaid as the “two biggest drivers of long term deficit growth”. So it’s no surprise that the 2012 Budget addresses these issues copiously. What is somewhat surprising, however, is the general distaste by some in his own party as to the challenges in reconciling the budget morass ahead.

Some Democrats, notably Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., joined the chorus of skeptics, while Obama scrambled to defend his $3.73 trillion fiscal 2012 budget at a news conference.

Among those who do support some sort of bipartisan approach to solving — at the very least, the budget problems concerning entitlements — there is frustration on his lack of details on just how to get it done.

That puts the onus on Republicans, who won control of the House on a pledge to curb the deficit, to share the risk of proposing unpopular benefit cuts and tax increases to curb entitlement spending, which makes up 40 percent of the budget. It also gives them a chance to take the lead on revamping the two insurance programs and Social Security, something they have vowed to do, though they’ve offered no specifics. “This is not a matter of ‘you go first’ or ‘I go first,’” Obama said yesterday. It’s about “getting in that boat at the same time so it doesn’t tip over.”

To be fair, it doesn’t look like the GOP is taking a stance on SS, Medicare, and Medicaid entitlements yet, as well. Perhaps both sides see any serious movement on this budgetary issue as a political trap from which there is no rhetorical lifeline on the horizon. Just don’t tell that to states currently grappling with there own fiscal woes in considering balancing budgets to already strained Medicaid coffers — including Minnesota.  

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