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Weekly remarks: Obama seeks to dodge Medicare cuts, John Boehner fears Democratic deficits

June 12, 2010 |  3:00 am

Democrat president Barack Obama on his cellphone in a Car 2010

President Obama's weekly remarks, as provided by the White House

More than a decade ago, Congress set up a formula that governs how doctors get paid by the Medicare program.  The intent was to slow the growth of Medicare costs, but the result was a formula that has proposed cutting payments for America’s doctors year after year after year. These are cuts that would not only jeopardize our physicians’ pay, but our seniors’ health care.

Since 2003, Congress has acted to prevent these pay cuts from going into effect. These votes were largely bipartisan, and they succeeded when Democrats ran Congress and when Republicans ran Congress – which was most of the time.   

This year, a majority of Congress is willing to prevent a pay cut of 21% -- a pay cut that would undoubtedly force some doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients altogether. But this time, some Senate Republicans may even block a vote on this issue. After years of voting to defer these cuts, the other party is now willing to walk away from the needs of our doctors and our seniors.  

Now, I realize that simply kicking these cuts down the road another year is not a long-term solution to this problem.  For years, I have said that a system where doctors are left to wonder if....

... they’ll get fairly reimbursed makes absolutely no sense.  And I am committed to permanently reforming this Medicare formula in a way that balances fiscal responsibility with the responsibility we have to doctors and seniors.  In addition, we’re already taking significant steps to slow the growth of Medicare costs through health insurance reform – not by targeting doctors and seniors, but by eliminating 50% of the waste, fraud, and abuse in the system by 2012.  This not only strengthens Medicare, it saves taxpayer dollars.  

I’m absolutely willing to take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget on a more fiscally sustainable path. But I’m not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare. That’s just wrong. And that’s why in the short-term, Congress must act to prevent this pay cut to doctors.  

If they don’t act, doctors will see a 21% cut in their Medicare payments this week. This week, doctors will start receiving these lower reimbursements from the Medicare program. That could lead them to stop participating in the Medicare program. And that could lead seniors to lose their doctors.  

We cannot allow this to happen. We have to fix this problem so that our doctors can get paid for the life-saving services they provide and keep their doors open. We have to fix this problem to keep the promise of Medicare for our seniors so that they get the health care they deserve. So I urge Republicans in the Senate to at least allow a majority of Senators and Congressmen to stop this pay cut.  I urge them to stand with America’s seniors and America’s doctors. Thanks.    ####   

Capitol Hill

Remarks by Rep. john Boehner of Ohio, as provided by his office

Hello – I’m John Boehner. In these tough economic times, American families have done their level best to stay afloat – spending less and working more while trying to map out a financially sound future. They deserve that same degree of discipline and vigilance from their government.

But instead of bringing fiscal sanity to Washington like he promised, President Obama has spent taxpayer dollars with reckless abandon, refusing to make tough choices and pushing the burden on to future generations. No price tag has been too high for Washington Democrats, and now we’re all paying the price.  

Unemployment is still close to 10 percent. The private sector is at a near-standstill. Our small businesses are still gasping for air. And having run a small business, I can tell you that the new health care law, with its burdensome mandates and tax increases, is already stalling these engines of our economy.

A new report from the Treasury Department shows that our fiscal situation is much worse than we thought.  Our record national debt – which now tops $13 trillion – is on pace to exceed the size of our entire economy by the middle of this decade.  Economists say that at these levels, our debt is draining enough resources from our country to cost us nearly one million jobs.

We cannot go on like this.  

Real economic growth requires creating jobs in the private sector, and to do that we need to start reining in Washington’s out-of-control spending spree. Less spending, more jobs – it’s that simple.
BoehnerJohnap
Economists agree, and this week, I gave President Obama a statement signed by more than 100 of them urging both parties to take immediate, decisive action to cut federal spending.

Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress are busy making backroom deals so that they don’t have to pass a budget this year.

They’d rather keep on spending than seize this critical opportunity to create jobs and boost our economy. But every family knows that in tough times, passing a budget is more important – not less important.

Just as troubling is the fact that President Obama hasn’t uttered a word in protest of Congressional Democrats’ failure to produce a budget.  

Even after being presented with these economists’ pleas for fiscal discipline, he still won’t press leaders in his own party to fulfill their responsibility to the American people.

This is a stunning failure of leadership – the kind of leadership President Obama promised to provide.

Too many in Washington forget that we work for the people, not the other way around.  Taxpayers are just fed up, and they want us to stop spending their hard-earned money.

That’s why, through the America Speaking Out project, Republicans are providing Americans with a megaphone to make their voices heard and help build a better, more responsive government. If you have an idea to cut wasteful Washington spending, log on to AmericaSpeakingOut.com right now and start a discussion about it.  

Another interactive Republican initiative – YouCut – gives Americans a chance to vote on specific spending cuts that you want to see Congress implement. And looking forward, Republicans have proposed common-sense solutions to reform the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars, starting with strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis.

Waiting and hoping for the best is no longer an option, not when 43 cents of every dollar we spend this year is borrowed from our kids and grandkids.  Our posterity shouldn’t have to foot the bill because Washington Democrats can’t do what they were elected to do or summon the courage to say no to special interests with their hand out.

So while I hope President Obama will work with us to stop this spending spree, if he won’t hold Congressional Democrats accountable, then the American people will. Thank you for listening. ####

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Photos: Pete Souza / White House; Associated Press.

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