President Barack Obama portrayed his plan for $480 billion in healthcare cuts as part of $4 trillion in overall federal deficit reductions within 12 years as a common-sense alternative to either a proposed Republican debt-cutting plan or doing nothing.
Obama jabs at GOP plan, some liberals
“I will preserve these healthcare programs as a promise we make to each other in this society,” Obama said in a national speech outlining his proposal Wednesday. “I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves.”
Obama extensively criticized the leading Republican debt-reduction plan that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) offered last week for making unnecessarily aggressive cuts to Medicaid and transforming Medicare into a voucher-based system.
“Their plan lowers the government's healthcare bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead,” Obama said.
The president contrasted his description of the Republican approach by describing his own plan as preserving and strengthening federal healthcare programs.
Obama also rebuffed his fellow liberals who have decried any cuts in federal healthcare spending “out of a fear that any talk of change to these programs will usher in the sort of radical steps that House Republicans have proposed.”
But no changes to the programs, he said, would bring into question the future existence of the programs.
The president offered Vice President Joe Biden to lead negotiations with congressional leaders on a debt plan—beginning in May—and produce a final agreement on long-term debt reduction by the end of June.
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