Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama: I Didn't Punt on Entitlement Reform in Federal Budget

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama: I Didn't Punt on Entitlement Reform in Federal Budget

Article excerpt

Critics complain that President Obama's federal budget doesn't trim entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. But Obama said that reform will come about through bipartisan negotiation.

President Obama pushed back Tuesday on bipartisan criticism that his 2012 budget proposal fails to address the unchecked growth of government entitlement programs - foremost Medicare and Medicaid, which are big contributors to the nation's unsustainable fiscal picture.

In an hour-long press conference, Mr. Obama suggested the omission was by design, and that the goal is to reach consensus in a negotiation, not through public posturing. Obama also asserted that the report last December by his bipartisan deficit commission, which called for far steeper deficit reduction than in his 2012 budget, has not been "shelved;" it still provides the "framework" for a conversation.

"Look at the history of how these deals get done," Obama said. "Typically it's not because there's an Obama plan out there. It's because Democrats and Republicans are committed to tackling this in a serious way."

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Obama referred to the 1983 deal struck by President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill addressing the insolvency of Social Security as a model of bipartisan problem-solving. He suggested the same approach in tackling entitlement reform and tax reform.

"This is going to be a process in which each side, in both chambers of Congress, go back and forth and start trying to whittle their differences down until we arrive at something," Obama said. That's his "goal," he said, not to "get a good headline on the first day."

Patience urged for 'negotiation process'

Obama also chided the news media for being "pretty impatient," not just on his approach to the deficit commission but also on Egypt, health-care reform, and repeal of "don't ask, don't tell. …

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