In a statement to the press Tuesday, the president emphasized the need to reduce the cost of health care in the U.S.
A transcript follows:
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: For all of the drama and disagreements 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 achieved 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 bills by reducing the cost of health care, not shifting all those costs onto 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 Americans.