Two words: entitlement reform.
First orders of business: Medicare and Medicaid…
Now, [Director of Obamaâ€™s Office of Management and Budget, Peter] Orszag is preparing for the biggest week of his career, with a “fiscal responsibility” summit Monday and the release of Obama’s first budget Thursday. He’s signaling that the moves in the stimulus package are just a hint of what’s to come in a budget that will begin in earnest the arduous process of health care reform.
â€œWhat has already been accomplished is a huge start toward a more efficient [health care] system, and I think youâ€™re going to see more in the budget next week,â€ he told Politico.
Though the budgetâ€™s details have been closely held, Orszag revealed, in broad terms, two: a continued focus on health care policy and a plan â€œto restore the nation to a sustainable fiscal trajectory over the five-to-10- year window.â€
The next step on health care, he said, is a set of â€œchanges to Medicare and Medicaid to make them more efficient, and to start using those programs more intelligently to lead the whole health care system.â€
But what about Social Security?
Well, it’s not as insolvent as you may think, but there are still some fixes in the works…
Orszag’s long-running project — something that has made the Left’s favorite Cabinet member — has been replacing talk of an “entitlement crisis” with his argument that Social Security requires only modest tax hikes and benefit cuts, while Medicare and Medicaid have much more dramatic fiscal woes.
“Social Security faces an actuarial deficit over the next 75-100 years. In the past I’ve resisted the term ‘crisis’ to describe that kind of situation,” he said. “This is not quantitatively as important as getting healthcare done.”
If Obama can reign this spending in after getting that stimulus bill passed, I think it’ll be hard for Republicans to paint him as fiscally irresponsible.
Still, will Congressional Dems allow Obama to change the game when it comes to programs that have traditionally been considered the third-rails of politics?
We shall see…