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Weekly remarks: Coburn hails GOP budget, warns of debt crisis; Obama hails his deficit plan, dislikes GOP's

April 16, 2011 |  3:00 am

Obama talks about Budget talks 4-7-11

 

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

This week, I laid out my plan for our fiscal future.  It’s a balanced plan that reduces spending and brings down the deficit, putting America back on track toward paying down our debt. 

We know why this challenge is so critical. If we don’t act, a rising tide of borrowing will damage our economy, costing us jobs and risking our future prosperity by sticking our children with the bill.

At the same time, we have to take a balanced approach to reducing our deficit –- an approach that protects the middle class, our commitments to seniors, and job-creating investments in things like education and clean energy. What’s required is an approach that draws support from both parties, and one that’s based on the values of shared responsibility and shared prosperity. 

Now, one plan put forward by some Republicans in the House of Representatives aims to reduce our deficit....

...by $4 trillion over the next ten years. But while I think their goal is worthy, I believe their vision is wrong for America.  

It’s a vision that says at a time when other nations are hustling to out-compete us for the jobs and businesses of tomorrow, we have to make drastic cuts in education, infrastructure, and clean energy – the very investments we need to win that competition and get those jobs. 

It’s a vision that says that in order to reduce the deficit, we have to end Medicare as we know it, and make cuts to Medicaid that would leave millions of seniors, poor children, and Americans with disabilities without the care they need.  

But even as this plan proposes these drastic cuts, it would also give $1 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest 2% of Americans – an extra $200,000 for every millionaire and billionaire in the country.   

I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think it’s right to ask seniors to pay thousands more for health care, or ask students to postpone college, just so we don’t have to ask those who have prospered so much in this land of opportunity to give back a little more. 

To restore fiscal responsibility, we all need to share in the sacrifice – but we don’t have to sacrifice the America we believe in.

That’s why I’ve proposed a balanced approach that matches that $4 trillion in deficit reduction. It’s an approach that combs the entire budget for savings, and asks everyone to do their part. And I’ve called on Democrats and Republicans to join me in this effort – to put aside their differences to help America meet this challenge.That’s how we’ve balanced our budget before, and it’s how we’ll succeed again.

We’ll build on the savings we made from last week’s bipartisan budget agreement, while protecting the job-creating investments that are critical to our future. 

We’ll find additional savings in our defense budget.  Over the last two years, the Secretary of Defense has taken on wasteful spending that does nothing to protect our troops or our nation, saving $400 billion in current and future spending.  I believe we can do that again.   

We’ll reduce health care spending, and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid through common-sense reforms that will get rid of wasteful subsidies and increase efficiency. 

We’ll reduce spending in our tax code with tax reform that’s fair and simple –- so that the amount of taxes you pay doesn’t depend on how clever an accountant you can afford. And we should end the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, too.  Because people like me don’t need another tax cut.

So that’s my approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years while protecting the middle class, keeping our promise to seniors, and securing our investments in our future. I hope you’ll check it out for yourself on WhiteHouse.gov.  And while you’re there, you can also find what we’re calling the taxpayer receipt.  For the first time ever, there’s a way for you to see exactly how and where your tax dollars are spent, and what’s really at stake in this debate.

Going forward, Democrats and Republicans in Washington will have our differences, some of them strong. But you expect us to bridge those differences. You expect us to work together and get this done. And I believe we can. I believe we can live within our means and live up to the values we share as Americans.  And in the weeks to come, I’ll work with anyone who’s willing to get it done. Thanks for listening.  Have a great weekend.    ####

Capitol Hill 4-8-11

Weekly remarks by Sen.Tom Coburn, as provided by the Republican Party leadership

Hello. I’m Dr., and U.S. Senator, Tom Coburn from Oklahoma.

This was a historic week in Washington. For the first time in more than 15 years, Congress, under leadership of the House Republicans, is making significant spending cuts. While these cuts aren’t nearly enough, the American people should be encouraged. You have fundamentally changed the debate in Washington. Instead of increasing spending, Congress is now cutting spending. That is a monumental shift for Washington. 

Republicans have also changed the culture of Congress. Earmarks like the Bridge to Nowhere and the Woodstock Museum are a thing of the past. Just five years ago, Congress passed 14,000 pork projects worth $29 billion. This year, we’re on pace to have zero earmarks.

These changes could not have come soon enough. Our nation is facing a $14.3 trillion national debt that our own military leaders call the greatest threat to our national security. In these challenging times, we need real leadership to bring us together. As Americans, there is not a problem that we can’t solve if we are together. And unfortunately, in his speech this week on the deficit, President Obama took us three steps backwards.

Instead of describing the threat and bringing both sides together, the president attacked those who have a different vision of the government.

As leaders we have a moral obligation to tell the country the truth. The truth is, is we could face a serious debt crisis sooner than anyone expects. We face an unsustainable debt and unsustainable entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. All of which will collapse if they’re not reformed.

Just this week, the International Momentary Fund warned our country to get our fiscal house in order quickly before investors lose faith in our ability to repay our debts. If investors dump our bonds, which finance our deficit spending on everything from Social Security benefits and to the military spending, our economy could go into a tailspin. We would see interest rates skyrocket, which would harm consumers and add hundreds of billions of dollars to our debt every year.

We’ve already seen Pimco, the world’s largest bond mutual fund, sell all of its holdings of U.S. Treasury bills. We’re also seeing troubling signs of inflation, and energy prices continue to rise.

What we need to avert a debt crisis is real leadership and specific solutions, not campaign style political attacks.

Unfortunately, the president failed to put a serious proposal on the table.

And for instance, his plan includes a so-called ‘debt failsafe’ that fails to actually target the debt. Entitlement spending alone accounts for more than 80 percent of our long-term debt burden but the president’s plan exempts these programs from reform. By pretending that Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security are sound financially when they are not, the president is jeopardizing the benefits for the very Americans he says he wants to protect.

He also proposed expanding his failed health care law that will cost Americans now over $2.6 trillion between now and the next 10 years. That makes our debt problem much more difficult to solve. The president wants to strengthen a board of unaccountable Medical Czars and give them more power to impose price controls and ration care.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who seemed to be the real target of the president’s speech, has charted a different course. His plan, which saves $6.2 trillion over ten years, outlines a path to prosperity, not austerity. He would save Medicare by giving all beneficiaries, beginning with those now under 55, access to high-quality health plans, similar to the plans that members of Congress enjoy. 

Also under Mr. Ryan’s plan, Medicaid’s safety net for the poorest patients would be strengthened by transitioning to block grants that empower states to provide care.

As a physician I know first-hand that Medicaid, as it is currently structured, is often times a disaster for patients. Nearly half of physicians don’t accept Medicaid patients because the reimbursement rates set by bureaucrats in Washington are so low. Not surprisingly, patients on Medicaid have poorer health outcomes, higher rates of infant mortality and more complications after major surgery than individuals with no health insurance at all.

Oklahoma republican senator doctor tom Coburn In the America I know we liberate citizens from failing programs that deny them choice, dignity and care. The president’s plan, on the other hand, forces 24 million Americans into a failing Medicaid program that routinely denies care to patients who have no other options. 

The president also underestimated how much we could save by going after waste, fraud and abuse. In just six years of oversight in my office alone, we have identified more than $350 billion in annual waste in the federal government.

The president says he wants to use a scalpel, but as a physician, let me tell you, when it comes to waste and duplication at the federal government level, we don’t need a scalpel. We need a chain saw.

Finally, on the issue of tax reform, the president walked away from serious bipartisan compromise on tax reform reached by his very own deficit commission on which I served. Our blueprint lowered tax rates for everyone, and reduced the deficit by stimulating real economic growth. The president’s plan undermines our bipartisan agreement by calling for rate increases that will slow the economic growth that he so much wants. 

As someone who has spent most of my 63 years outside of politics, I know there isn’t a problem we can’t solve if we do it together. But the only way we can solve them is to put our political careers on the line and stop engaging in petty political attacks. To my Republican colleagues I often ask: What good is the Republican Party without a republic? And to my Democrats colleagues I ask: What good are your promises without an economy to sustain them?

This week showed how far we have come but also how far we have to go. As long you – We the People – stay engaged and hold Washington accountable I have no doubt we’ll address the challenges ahead and secure the blessings of liberty for future generations. May God bless you, and our great country.    ####

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Photos: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images; Alex Wong / Getty Images (Capitol Hill and Sen. Coburn).

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