Obama: Cut Medicare Spending, Don’t Harm Seniors

Democrats must make concessions to reduce spending on Medicare and other entitlement programs, President Obama said in a news briefing Wednesday, but he tempered calls for cuts with promises not to transfer costs to seniors. However, he did not allude specifically to how he would reduce Medicare spending in the short term, and expressed his desire to lower overall health care costs over time. “We’re going to have to look at entitlements, and that’s difficult politically,” he said. “We need to see where we can reduce the cost of health care spending in Medicare and Medicaid in the out years, not by shifting costs to seniors, as some have proposed, but rather by actually reducing those costs.”

Obama urged a balanced approach that included both spending reductions and tax increases. He said he wanted Republicans to abandon their promise not to raise taxes, and he argued that wealthy Americans and corporations should not continue to get generous tax breaks, while funding for medical research and other important programs is at stake.

“The question is, if everybody else is willing to take on sacred cows to achieve the real goal of deficit reduction, it would be hard for Republicans to stand there and say a tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that they are not willing to come to the table for a deal.”

View video excerpts from the news conference.

This post was updated at 1:24 p.m.

mserafini@kff.org