Medicare, Medicaid Cuts Not in Democrats’ Federal Budget Plan
Congressional Democrats on Tuesday announced that they have reached a tentative agreement on a $3.3 trillion fiscal year 2009 budget resolution that rejects reductions in spending for Medicare and Medicaid proposed by President Bush, the New York Times reports.
Bush has estimated that his legislative proposals over five years would reduce spending for Medicare by $178 billion and spending for Medicaid by $17 billion.
According to Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the agreement also would provide "about $20 billion" more for military and domestic programs than the $991.6 billion requested by Bush (Pear, New York Times, 5/14).
House Budget Committee Chair John Spratt (D-S.C.) declined to disclose additional details about the agreement (Clarke, CQ Today, 5/13).
A conference committee likely will begin to consider the agreement later this week (Montgomery, Washington Post, 5/14).
Conrad said that House and Senate leaders likely will name conferees on Thursday or Friday (Sanchez, CongressDaily, 5/14). The House and Senate might approve the budget as early as next week, Conrad said.
Spratt said that lawmakers "should be able to pass the budget before Congress goes home for Memorial Day" (New York Times, 5/14).
Spratt said, "Our budget moves to balance by 2012 with balanced priorities," adding, "It rejects, for example, the huge cuts proposed in Medicare and Medicaid by the president and congressional Republicans" (CongressDaily, 5/14).
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said that Democrats should not have rejected the reductions in spending for Medicare and Medicaid proposed by Bush. Higher-income Medicare beneficiaries should pay higher premiums for the prescription drug benefit, as Bush proposed, Gregg said (New York Times, 5/14).
Deputy White House Budget Director Stephen McMillin also criticized the agreement, which he said would increase spending, "avoid hard choices on entitlements" and seek to "keep taxes on Americans as high as they can be" (Washington Post, 5/14).