Appearing on several Sunday television shows, Plouffe said the deficit-reduction plan envisioned by the president will include cuts to government health insurance and a discussion over reforming Social Security, as well as eliminating Bush-era tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year. Plouffe would not put a figure on the amount of deficit reduction.
Obama will fire a salvo in the war over government spending after a clash with Republicans over funding the government for the rest of this year nearly led to a shutdown. The Republicans announced an ambitious plan to slash government last week, and lawmakers may vote on it this week.
After having Vice President Biden negotiate the administration’s position on the 2011 budget until the last minute, Obama is now preparing his most extensive response yet to public concerns about the nation’s deficit and debt. The new strategy comes after months of Republican criticism that Obama has been too timid in his efforts to cut the deficit.
But Plouffe, speaking on ABC’s “This Week, ” sought to distinguish the two parties’ approaches.
“We can’t take a machete,” he said. “We have to take a scalpel, and we’re going to have to cut, we’re going to have to look carefully.”
He made it clear that even the most popular, but expensive, programs are on the table. “You’re going to have to look at Medicare and Medicaid and see what kind of savings you can get,” Plouffe said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.): responded on “Fox News Sunday”: “I sit here and I listen to David Plouffe talk about their commitment to cut spending, and knowing full well that for the last two months, we’ve had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending.” He added: “In my opinion, it’s really hard to believe what this White House and the president is saying.”
The new chapter in the budget war began immediately after a late bargain was struck Friday that narrowly avoided a government shutdown.
After arriving at a budget deal to cut $38 billion from current spending levels and fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, Republicans and Democrats claimed victory. Both sides quickly attempted to seize the momentum with two major economic bills coming: first regarding the federal government’s ability to borrow money, and then the 2012 Republican budget proposal to tackle the long-range deficit by fundamentally overhauling Medicare and Medicaid.
Congress nearly choked over a six-month budget, bringing Washington to a dramatic stalemate last week. But that was merely a dry run for the clashes to come this spring — the outcomes of which will determine whether the U.S. government goes into default and which promise to shape, if not define, the political landscape going into the 2012 presidential election.