President Obama’s proposed budget has delayed some tough choices on entitlement programs, including Medicare, which will eventually bankrupt the country unless lawmakers can agree on some drastic changes. The budget forestalls the cut in Medicare payments to doctors, which was first proposed in a 1990s effort at debt reduction, for another two years.
Currently, 100 million Americans depend on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and children’s health insurance, and beginning in 2014, the health care law will add another 30 million. Some budget experts argue that the proposed budget is merely a jumping off point for much more serious bipartisan budget-cutting to come.
“I don’t think this represents his bottom line at all,” said Alice Rivlin, an economist who served on Obama’s debt commission. “I believe that the president, probably as a tactical move, did not propose changes in the big entitlement programs. He wants to work that out on a bipartisan basis with the Congress. With respect to entitlements and taxes, nothing is going to happen unless both sides are in sync.”