White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama believes health care entitlement programs need to be “adjusted” since they are “significant drivers” of the nation’s deficit.
Republican leaders have called on Obama to support entitlement reform as part of a deficit reduction deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“The president believes that Medicare in particular and more broadly our health care entitlements, Medicare and Medicaid, need to be adjusted in ways that protect beneficiaries and protect the integrity of the programs but bring about savings,” Carney said at the White House briefing on Friday.
“He achieved that significantly in the Affordable Care Act and seeks to achieve additional savings in a compromised deal with Congress that would reduce our deficits in the order of $4 trillion over 10 years. So absolutely, he recognizes that health care entitlements are significant drivers of our deficits.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told The Daily Caller this week that Republicans are “waiting” for the president to get “serious” about reforming entitlement programs.
“I’ve said repeatedly — and I think most of my colleagues have said as well, I’ll say again — on the entitlement reforms that are needed to save Medicare and Social Security, we know what they are. Doesn’t require any more study. It just requires the courage to do it,” McConnell said at the Capitol on Dec. 11. (RELATED: McConnell on fiscal cliff: Obama can get tax hikes by doing nothing)
“I’ve been waiting for the president to become serious about solving the problem. So I don’t know when he’s going to become serious. But it sounds to me like we’re running out of time. And we’ll take our cues from the speaker as to when they’re able — if they’re able to reach some kind of agreement.”
Carney told reporters, “Republicans haven’t demonstrated a willingness to do anything when it comes to revenue or spending for that matter.”
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget, which was passed by the House, included a plan to reform Medicare for future beneficiaries. Carney said Obama has proposed “structural reforms” to entitlements and is willing to “entertain” other ideas.
“The president believes we need to take significant action to reign in our deficits, bring down our deficits as a percentage of the economy to a level that is sustainable,” said Carney.
Republican congressional leaders have argued that the federal government has a spending not revenue problem.
“Here we are, at the 11th hour, and the president still isn’t serious about dealing with this issue right here. It’s this issue, spending. Now you go back to — and want to talk about polling — most Americans would agree that spending is a much bigger problem than raising taxes. They want us to deal with this in a responsible way,” said House Speaker John Boehner on Dec. 13. (RELATED: Boehner: Obama still not serious about cutting spending)
“You’d think this whole discussion was about nothing other than raising the top two tax rates. That, as we’ve pointed out, has literally nothing to do with solving the problem,” said McConnell on Dec. 11.