Lew defends Obama's criticisms of Ryan's budget proposal

In his deficit-reduction speech on Wednesday, President Obama told the country in no uncertain terms -- aside from choosing not to use his opponent's name -- that the Republican budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would cause 50 million Americans to lose their health insurance, including elderly patients in nursing care and disabled children.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Thursday, Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew said that those assertions were based on assumptions about where states might cut their budgets rather than actual line items in Ryan's plan. Obama's statements were based on the reality that long-term care is one of the largest cost-drivers in the system, he said.

"I think it is a very reasonable projection that the kinds of choices created by the block-granting and the reduced funding would make it impossible to have the mix that we have today," Lew said of the assumptions. "The only thing that could be reduced in order to keep the growth under control would be that kind of long-term care and the care for disabled. It would be very hard to get the savings any other way."

Lew also said that the president's proposal wouldn't create risk for recipients because it would achieve cost savings by reducing improper payments. "I don't want to sugarcoat it. It is tough," he said. "It's going to put pressure on the system, but it won't do it in a way that pushes risk to the beneficiary." He was eager to move on to discuss efforts under the Affordable Care Act to lower long-term health care costs.

Lew also offered few details beyond the president's deficit-reduction speech, except to say that the plan would not raise taxes for those making less than $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a family.

Press Secretary Jay Carney was similarly light on details, especially when asked about potential changes to the tax code. "Its filled with a lot of complexities, a lot of loopholes, a lot of things that I think makes the average American tear his or her hair out when they're trying to do their taxes," he said. "The goal of tax reform is to make the tax code more simple and more fair."

He added that the president believes everything should be on the table in negotiations.

But both Carney and Lew - who calls himself an "optimist" and a "realist" - have a sunny outlook about progress on a deal. "Once leaders take on the burden of defining a problem, they then take on the burden of defining a solution," Lew said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.