“All of those came in the context of the budget — of the request of the president to raise the debt ceiling,” he said.
Well before then, on April 8 in fact, Obama will present a budget of his own. It is long overdue, to the disappointment of Republicans who had hoped to make it an object of ridicule in the just-completed budget debates in the House and Senate.
It gives Obama the chance to align himself entirely with his Democratic allies, or possibly to edge away when it comes to government benefit programs that have largely escaped cuts in earlier compromises.
Republicans will watch to see what steps, if any, the White House is willing to recommend to slow the growth of Medicare or perhaps Social Security.
Given Obama’s recent series of meetings with Republicans, some GOP lawmakers say privately it would be a positive sign for him to include a proposal curtailing the rise in cost of living increases in benefit programs.
It’s a change he has supported since his aborted deficit-reduction negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, nearly two years ago. But many Democrats in Congress oppose it and the administration has never included it in its budget.
Republicans also are hoping Obama will back steps to slow the long-term growth in Medicare, even if they phase in gradually and produce relatively little deficit savings in the next decade.
The president’s 2013 budget called for $305 billion in Medicare savings, but only a fraction of that would come directly from patients or seem likely to change the demand for care.
In his State of the Union address in February, the president said he would change “the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital — they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.”