President Obama has tried for months to convince critics on the left that entitlement programs such as Medicare had to be cut in order to save the programs, but he seems to have yielded under pressure from his political base.
In his new $1.5 trillion deficit-cutting plan, unveiled Monday at the White House, Obama backed away from the changes he had been talking about for months.
“With an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program,” he said. “And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.”
But after that speech, several Democratic groups and lawmakers sent letters, held news conferences and even staged protests, including one Monday in front of the White House by activists challenging the idea of any cuts in Medicaid benefits.
The president seems to have heard the objections. In his Rose Garden speech Monday, he proposed only half as much in savings as he did in debt talks this summer, offering $320 billion in changes instead of $650 billion, and he took a very different tone:
“We will reform Medicare and Medicaid, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment that this country has kept for generations,” he said.