In a move that surprised some fellow Democrats, published reports say President Obama will offer in Thursday discussions with members of Congress the possibility of substantial reductions in funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as a means of slashing the U.S. deficit far beyond the $2 trillion in cuts discussed in earlier negotiations. In exchange Obama wants Republicans to agree to raise taxes, the reports say, perhaps letting breaks for the country’s wealthiest expire at the end of next year.
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement Thursday that the Senate will consider legislation today that includes asking “millionaires and billionaires to contribute to this country’s effort to reduce our deficit.”
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Obama is looking at as much as a $4 trillion reduction over the next 10 years, through a combination of tax increases, loophole closures and cuts in public entitlement programs previously considered untouchable. According to the report, some of Obama’s fellow Democrats are alarmed by the proposal, while others see it as a demonstration of the president’s willingness to compromise.
According to a New York Times report, apparently the proposal arose out of a secret meeting Obama had with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ala., over the weekend—a meeting that on Wednesday the White House was still refusing to acknowledge, and that caught Democrats by surprise.
While the Post cited a Democrat familiar with the proposal saying, “Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” it also quoted another Democratic official as saying, “The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island