Obama Says He Has Offered 'Sensible Reforms To
Medicare' in Press Briefing on Budget
‘Reforms would reduce our government’s bills by
reducing the cost of health care, not shifting all those costs on to
Feb. 6, 2013 – President Barack Obama spoke briefly to the
press yesterday about budget negotiations and emphasized the need to
reduce the cost of health care in the U.S. He also touched on
entitlements and, specifically, Medicare. Below is the complete
transcript with key words on senior programs highlighted in yellow.
President Barack Obama:
I wanted to say a few words about the looming
deadlines and decisions that we face on our budget and on our deficit --
and these are decisions that will have real and lasting impacts on the
strength and pace of our recovery.
Economists and business leaders from across the
spectrum have said that our economy is poised for progress in 2013. And
we’ve seen signs of this progress over the last several weeks. Home
prices continue to climb. Car sales are at a five-year high.
Manufacturing has been strong. And we’ve created more than six million
jobs in the last 35 months.
But we’ve also seen the effects that political
dysfunction can have on our economic progress. The drawn-out process
for resolving the fiscal cliff hurt consumer confidence. The threat of
massive automatic cuts have already started to affect business
decisions. So we’ve been reminded that while it’s critical for us to
cut wasteful spending, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. Deep,
indiscriminate cuts to things like education and training, energy and
national security will cost us jobs, and it will slow down our
recovery. It’s not the right thing to do for the economy; it’s not the
right thing for folks who are out there still looking for work.
For all the drama and disagreements that we’ve had
over the past few years, Democrats and Republicans have still been able
to come together and cut the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion through
a mix of spending cuts and higher rates on taxes for the wealthy. A
balanced approach has achieved more than $2.5 trillion in deficit
reduction. That’s more than halfway towards the $4 trillion in deficit
reduction that economists and elected officials from both parties
believe is required to stabilize our debt. So we've made progress. And
I still believe that we can finish the job with a balanced mix of
spending cuts and more tax reform.
The proposals that I put forward during the fiscal
cliff negotiations in discussions with Speaker Boehner and others are
still very much on the table. I just want to repeat: The deals that I
put forward, the balanced approach of spending cuts and entitlement
reform and tax reform that I put forward are still on the table.
I’ve offered sensible reforms to
Medicare and other
entitlements, and my health care
proposals achieve the same amount of savings by the beginning of the
next decade as the reforms that have been proposed by the bipartisan
Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission. These reforms would reduce our
government’s bill -- (laughter.) What’s up, cameraman? (Laughter.)
Come on, guys. (Laughter.) They’re breaking my flow all the time.
These reforms would reduce our government’s bills
by reducing the cost of health care, not shifting all those costs on to
middle-class seniors, or the
working poor, or children with disabilities, but nevertheless, achieving
the kinds of savings that we're looking for.
But in order to achieve the full $4 trillion in
deficit reductions that is the stated goal of economists and our elected
leaders, these modest reforms in our
social insurance programs have to go hand-in-hand with a process
of tax reform, so that the wealthiest individuals and corporations can’t
take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most
Leaders in both parties have already identified the
need to get rid of these loopholes and deductions. There’s no reason
why we should keep them at a time when we’re trying to cut down on our
deficit. And if we are going to close these loopholes, then there’s no
reason we should use the savings that we obtain and turn around and
spend that on new tax breaks for the wealthiest or for corporations. If
we’re serious about paying down the deficit, the savings we achieve from
tax reform should be used to pay down the deficit, and potentially to
make our businesses more competitive.
Now, I think this balanced mix of spending cuts and
tax reform is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction. The
overwhelming majority of the American people -- Democrats and
Republicans, as well as independents -- have the same view. And both
the House and the Senate are working towards budget proposals that I
hope reflect this balanced approach. Having said that, I know that a
full budget may not be finished before March 1st, and, unfortunately,
that's the date when a series of harmful automatic cuts to job-creating
investments and defense spending -- also known as the sequester -- are
scheduled to take effect.
So if Congress can’t act immediately on a bigger
package, if they can't get a bigger package done by the time the
sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe that they
should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms
that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for
a few more months until Congress finds a way to replace these cuts with
a smarter solution.
There is no reason that the jobs of thousands of
Americans who work in national security or education or clean energy,
not to mention the growth of the entire economy should be put in
jeopardy just because folks in Washington couldn’t come together to
eliminate a few special interest tax loopholes or government programs
that we agree need some reform.
Congress is already working towards a budget that
would permanently replace the sequester. At the very least, we should
give them the chance to come up with this budget instead of making
indiscriminate cuts now that will cost us jobs and significantly slow
down our recovery.
So let me just repeat: Our economy right now is
headed in the right direction and it will stay that way as long as there
aren’t any more self-inflicted wounds coming out of Washington. So
let’s keep on chipping away at this problem together, as Democrats and
Republicans, to give our workers and our businesses the support that
they need to thrive in the weeks and months ahead.
Thanks very much. And I know that you're going to
have a whole bunch of other questions. And that's why I hired this guy,
Jay Carney -- (laughter) -- to take those questions.
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