WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Tuesday the nation's major entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — must be adjusted by Democrats and Republicans acting together rather than by dictates from the White House.
Obama defended his decision to avoid any entitlement overhauls in the 2012 budget he submitted a day earlier, saying the two parties must work together to find compromise.
"There's going to be a lot of ups and downs in the coming months as we get to that solution," the president said in a news conference. "I'm confident that we can get this done."
The president described his $3.73 trillion budget as one of tough choices. It aims to reduce the deficit by $1.1 trillion over 10 years with a mix of spending freezes on domestic programs, pay hike suspensions for federal civilian workers and new revenues from increased taxes on the wealthy and on oil and gas producers.
But Obama's deficit relief is far more modest than that detailed by his fiscal commission, which in December proposed measures that would mop up four times as much red ink. Unlike his blue-ribbon group, the administration's budget does not address structural changes in Social Security or Medicare, the two largest items in the federal budget.
"Look at the history of how these deals get done," Obama said Tuesday. "Typically it's not because there's an Obama plan out there. It's because Democrats and Republicans are committed to tackling this in a serious way."
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