Obama vows to tackle benefit spending

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 16:20 EDT
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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed to tackle costly but fiercely guarded medical, retirement and jobless benefits, as he sought to rebuff criticism he is not willing to address tough spending issues.

Facing allegations that his 2012 budget does not tackle the main causes of the country’s soaring deficits, Obama insisted the plan, presented Monday, puts the US on a path to pay for what it spends by the middle of the decade.

Urging Republicans to cooperate, Obama also sought to enlist his detractors in a broader reform effort, offering to examine unemployment, disability, old-age and health benefits that have long been sacrosanct in Democratic politics.

“To get where we need to go, we’re going to have to do more, bring down health care costs further, including in programs like Medicare and Medicaid, the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficits,” Obama told reporters.

Medicare provides health insurance for Americans over 65 years old, while Medicaid provides treatment for the poor. Along with Social Security — which covers unemployment, disability and other benefits — the programs will cost $20.4 trillion in the next ten years.

At the same time Obama backed reforming the corporate tax code, a move that could spell vastly larger tax bills for the Republicans’ normally stalwart big business allies.

The administration has called for lowering minimum tax rates while closing loopholes that mean few large firms pay anything close to the current nominal rate.

Obama also raised the prospect of individual tax reform, an enticing if fraught prospect in the run up to a presidential election.

“I believe we should strengthen Social Security for future generations, and I think we can do that without slashing benefits or putting current retirees at risk, and I’m willing to work with everybody on Capitol Hill to simplify the individual tax code for all Americans.

“All of these steps are going to be difficult, and that’s why all of them will require Democrats, Independents and Republicans to work together.”

Obama pointed to previous examples of bipartisanship during the Clinton and Reagan eras and under his own administration as evidence that a deal could be reached.

But there was little evidence of common ground on Tuesday as members of both parties and the administration flooded the airwaves with their verdict of the budget, with comments almost exactly split along party lines.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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  • CozmicSeer

    Seems just a short time ago where he was saying that we had to allow all these tax breaks for the rich so they could have the measly amount they got for the unemployment benefits for those that were running out. Now the reality has come home. Did he really think that by giving up on holding the line that it wouldn’t come back to bite him on the backside? It seems hard to tell whether he doesn’t know how to be a leader with ethics(one of which is not to lie) or if he hasn’t a real clue and goes which ever way the wind blows.

    If he really wants to do something about the debt that him and Bush have caused, there have been many excellent post at RawStory about getting things in order that would do a hell of a lot more good than he seems capable of these days.

  • Anonymous

    This is absolute bullshit. First, I have been paying into Social Security for over 40 years, for my dad and then when Reagan Raised the Tax for my and for myself. The Social Security Trust fund has over 2 trillion dollars in it and is not a liability on the budget for another 15 – 20 years. Second Medicare, if it were Medicare for all and everyone was included and paid into it as the do their for profit health insurance, the whole country could be covered without breaking the budget. The Fucking Corporatist’s including apparently Obama have been drooling over the Social Security trust fund since its inception and I’ll be damned if they will get it.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like participation at this site has taken a nose dive. Sounds like Obama wants entitlement cuts to cost the rich something. Republicans probably won’t want to compromise and who knows what will happen when ” the public” weighs in.

  • Anonymous

    lets hear more about cuts to security and defense contractors, without that neither dims or repugs are serious

    Hey RAW, please do some investigative stories on the commodity futures trading commission given escalating food and gas prices. legislators need to be given some real homework. Enough deception about spending cuts and other talking points. We need to get over political psy ops against the public

  • dk504

    >>>>At the same time Obama backed reforming the corporate tax code, a move that could spell vastly larger tax bills for the Republicans’ normally stalwart big business allies.<<<<<

    Look Obama, this is completely absurd. You had the chance to dump the Bush tax cuts and YOU pussed out, you blinked. So the middle class and lower class are now paying that price. And all hell is going to break loose. Wisconsin and South Dakota (pro-choice issues) are just the beginnings. The uber rich have to pick up the fair share for one thing and the ceiling must be raised from $110,000 a year. I'm am so sick of Obama not even trying to try to stand up to these Rethugs. After 10 years of good times for the top 2% it's time for them to pay.
    Why doesn't he get this?

  • arianna issa

    Dee plan all come together. Da president cut da Energy Assistance vor poor to help pay my andt boy friend tax cut. Da poor day freeze andt die because can’t pay bill andt not need da Welfare or da food stamp or da Social Security, medicare and medicaid, all fixed! Dis itst da change ve can believes in! As boy friend alvays says to me all time “Do you know how many poor people live in America? It don’t matter, Fuck the poor, if they want heat let their families chip in and buy them tubes of Ben-Gay to rub all over them. The Poor, always complaining, I spit on one the other day and the old bitch cried “I can’t swim”. Fuck the Poor” Andt he shouldt know dees thingks, he billionaire congressman.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    Nice.. willing to shit on the little guys, but not willing to tell the rich pricks that they don’t get to take an extra $70 billion out of the coffers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    Simplify the tax code? a) the Shrub put together a commission to do that, they never came back with anything.. b) you’ve already mentioned closing loopholes for corporations, and the GOP laughed at you and blocked the bill (and the don’t even have a majority in Congress).

    You fucked up by giving the rich their tax breaks. You’re continuing to fuck up by keeping the illegal invasions running (one at full speed and one idling while you dally around with the largest embassy in the world). And there’s still nothing about the subsidies to oil/big-agra. Shut those down, too.. to the tune of billions a year.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    or the $250 billion in fraud but still giving contracts to companies that have been convicted of fraud.

  • Anonymous

    good notes JoeS. what will it take for RAW and daily KOS Moveon- to do stare downs with the Dims. Like hey youall answer this in 24 hrs, people wanna know. No answers, petition for heads to roll.

    They are just not dealing with issues of substance like runaway prices, endless foreclosures. Mainstream media such throws up more softballs and talking points as we keep printing up fiat currency