Budget battles: The gauntlet has been thrown and thrown again Update: Sessions responds

posted at 4:05 pm on June 14, 2011 by Tina Korbe

The  GOP’s budget men have refused to relent in their calls for serious budgetary changes. House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama to demand he seriously address the need for Medicare reform. The letter states:

The country deserves honest  leadership on this critical issue. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget that you submitted  to Congress this year showed a lack of seriousness about the major fiscal challenges before the nation. And, although you abandoned this budget in a subsequent speech, your administration still has not formally submitted a revised FY2012 budget to Congress. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in 776 days, disregarding legal statute and further eroding the integrity of the federal budget process. Now more than ever is the time to fulfill our obligations under the law rather than skirt them, and we would respectfully  suggest that this mandate extends to the Medicare warnings issued each year that you have been in office.

Under the budget  you submitted to Congress, Medicare  as we know it will soon be unable to meet its promises to current beneficiaries. Rather than impose cuts on current beneficiaries and leave Medicare bankrupt  for future generations, the House-passed  FY2012 budget resolution outlines reforms to preserve and protect Medicare for those in or near retirement while saving and strengthening the program for future generations. Given the severity of this problem and your legal obligations, the nation needs leadership on this issue. Therefore, we reasonably expect your administration to submit a detailed legislative proposal to Congress addressing the Medicare funding warning as required by law.

The letter strikes an appropriately stern tone, especially in its accusation of a “lack of seriousness.” After all, the administration has ignored a key legal requirement under the Medicare Modernization Act 0f 2003. The “Medicare Trigger” demands the president produce a plan to shore up Medicare in response to a warning issued by the Medicare Trustees. The Trustees have issued warning after warning against the program’s impending insolvency, but the president has yet to produce a plan to remedy the imbalance.

The president ought to respond to the letter Ryan and Sessions sent him this morning. Trouble is, Democrats have been just as dogged in their demonization of the House-passed budget as Republicans have been in their disappointment in Democrats’ failure to produce an alternative. Just this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to say this about Sessions:

Madam President, on this side of the aisle for Democrats, protecting the seniors on Medicare is our top priority. I heard our friend, the Ranking Member on the Budget Committee, come here and talk for hours, and he keeps talking about things that really have no bearing on what I think is important for the country today, and that is we know that the Republicans have put forward a budget that destroys Medicare. …

So I would tell my friend, the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, come and talk about the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it. What about the subsidies for these oil companies? Shouldn’t we get rid of them? It’s time Republicans abandon their ideological plan to Medicare and work with us to strengthen our promise to seniors instead.

So, which is it? Does Ryan’s plan “destroy” Medicare or does it “save and strengthen” it for future generations? Perhaps the simplest way to answer that question is with another one: Why would Republicans waste time — and risk politically — to produce a plan to destroy a program that promises to destroy itself in short order? No plan is needed to do away with Medicare, as the Medicare Trustees’ 2011 report makes clear.

Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Fund will be insolvent by 2024 — five years earlier than predicted in the last Trustees’ report. The program runs a cash-flow deficit of $32 billion. Worst of all, in total, Medicare faces $36.8 trillion dollars (that’s trillion!!!) in unfunded obligations throughout the course of the next 75 years, according to Medicare’s non-partisan Chief Actuary.

Ryan and Sessions cite these facts in their letter — but they’ve been confirmed by Obama’s own Trustees. Does Reid really want to talk Medicare? Sessions is expected to respond this afternoon to Reid’s callout, and the Senate Majority Leader just might have his hands full. Sessions’ Southern drawl might sound gentle, but he’s been known to deliver fiery remarks (the senator’s YouTube channel receives a surprisingly high number of views for just that reason) — and, in this case, he’ll be bolstered by the facts.

Update: Sessions this afternoon did, in fact, deliver a rebuttal to Reid’s accusations. As this post was published, Sessions was on the Senate floor, expounding the Medicare Trustees’ report and taking Reid to task.

“[I am disappointed] the Majority Leader would have the gall to criticize the House members,” Sessions said. “Give me a break … Medicare is going broke and we need to do something to save it … The things I’ve been talking about do have bearing on the future of our country and I’m disappointed our Democratic leader doesn’t agree. … The debt, the economy, housing, gas prices — these don’t have bearing on the future of our country?”


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

PBHO would love to respond to the letter except that he used the back of it to keep track of today’s golf score and then threw it in the clubhouse trash after the round. Oh well.

Bishop on June 14, 2011 at 4:10 PM

All arguments aside…following the law seems to be a concept that is not theoretical…but historical.
What good was the presidents oath of uphold the law, if he just ignores the law?

right2bright on June 14, 2011 at 4:13 PM

CBS News GOP town hall on the economy
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), and Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) in a special CBS News town hall to discuss their views on how to improve the economy and create jobs.

http://youtu.be/vqsqyrr3mqU

gumble on June 14, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Why offer leadership when you can just wait for the GOP to offer a proposal and then demonize them for it?

SS and Medicare won’t go broke before the next election, so the Dems see no need to act now.

John Deaux on June 14, 2011 at 4:18 PM

The dems have the forumula…wait and wait and wait and then tell everyone you are going to have things taken away. Repubs crumble

tomas on June 14, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Beware these fools in next year’s lame duck session. I’m already sounding the warning bells. Call me Paul Revere if you must.

SouthernGent on June 14, 2011 at 4:21 PM

We got this thing (Mediscare), see, and it’s F#@!* golden! And we’re not F!@#* giving it away for nothing!

cartooner on June 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

“We have to destroy the village medicare in order to save it.”

–Harry and the Dems

iurockhead on June 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Look how well Ryan answers questions on Medicare:

http://youtu.be/vjoIG1Jzx4w

All other Republican officals should be taking notes from this guy.

gumble on June 14, 2011 at 4:27 PM

“Does Reid really want to talk Medicare?”

Is Weiner looking for a hole to crawl into…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on June 14, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Sessions’ Southern drawl might sound gentle, but

Tina obviously has not been to enough (or any) diversity/multicultural awareness seminars. You can’t say this kind of stereotypical thing.

DaydreamBeliever on June 14, 2011 at 4:35 PM

What do you mean Obama isn’t leading on Medicare, for that matter , leading on every issue. He is leading a bunch of thieves, liars, cheats and scoundrels.

fourdeucer on June 14, 2011 at 4:39 PM

“Mister President, we have a letter from the Republicans concerning the budget. It’s rather stern.”

“Zzz…uh, hey, Carney, get your ass out there and uh, say something bad about Ryan! What’s my, uh, tee time?”

fossten on June 14, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Little Bammie is just too busy for any of that ‘leadership’ stuff.

slickwillie2001 on June 14, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Sooo….what about the jobs again? Are we seriously gonna give this MEdicare stuff another losing try?

Apologetic California on June 14, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Rome is burning-dhimmicRATs violinning.

davidk on June 14, 2011 at 4:49 PM

I hope Sessions destroys dingy harry in his response. Call him a liar and a cheat who does nothing for the American people except waste their tax dollars. Get mean and viscous and brutal. The liberals need to get beat down hard for the next year and a half so that the American people will be happy to replace everyone possible next November.

Spectreman on June 14, 2011 at 4:49 PM

The country deserves honest leadership on this critical issue.

I wonder if the writer was able to get past this line without laughing.

davidk on June 14, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Hey Senator Reid. We’ll gladly drop the oil subsidies. NOW can we work on saving Medicare?

hawksruleva on June 14, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Sooo….what about the jobs again? Are we seriously gonna give this MEdicare stuff another losing try?

Apologetic California on June 14, 2011 at 4:45 PM

As much as I’d like to see that happen, the U.S. is now so close to the cliff that our interest rates are closely tied to our ability or inability to produce a plan getting us out of this mess.

We could just let the nation melt down around Obama and Reid. But some in the GOP want to avoid the worst. To me, that’s the very definition of good governance.

hawksruleva on June 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I mean, what really HAS the President done other than take trips and golf?

search4truth on June 14, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Really, is it too much to ask a President to submit a budget????

Congress hasn’t passed one in over two years.

Just perhaps this is a bigger issue than thin or deep dish pizza?

Angry Dumbo on June 14, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Why offer leadership when you can just wait for the GOP to offer a proposal and then demonize them for it?

SS and Medicare won’t go broke before the next election, so the Dems see no need to act now.

John Deaux on June 14, 2011 at 4:18 PM

That’s clearly what the dems think, but I think a unified chorus from the GOP of “What’s your plan, Obama?” will hurt the president. If he’s going to make demonizing Paul Ryan for having a plan the cornerstone of his campaign, and it appears that he is, he ought to get asked about his own — better — plan often. Might as well start asking him now. A unified GOP has the capacity to get through the media firewall and put this question front and center if they pound it hard enough. At the very least, it will make it risky for Obama to keep demonizing Ryan’s plan. It has the dual effect of emphasizing Obama’s total lack of leadership on these serious issues, as well as his crass campaign demagoguery.

Rational Thought on June 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM

The president ought to respond to the letter Ryan and Sessions sent him this morning.

He will! Want to bet it’s another round of golf?

GarandFan on June 14, 2011 at 5:05 PM

What kind of incoherent malarkey talking point is Reid pulling with that reference to oil subsidies? We do not subsidize the oil industry. Bat that lie out of the way right now.

onlineanalyst on June 14, 2011 at 5:07 PM

A side that’s trying to bring down the country isn’t about to compromise on anything serious with the side that’s trying to save it. It’s a dreadful situation that reminds me of the Israelis and the Palestinians — except that here, the Palestinians are in charge.

Aardvark on June 14, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Anyone who saw Sam Ervin do his “Southern country lawyer” schtick during Watergate knows better than to think a Southern accent means you’re not tough.

INC on June 14, 2011 at 5:09 PM

The debt, the economy, housing, gas prices — these don’t have bearing on the future of our country?”

Well, to be fair, none of those things are as important as Cowboy Poetry.

DrAllecon on June 14, 2011 at 5:16 PM

The Obamacrat message machine is in a groove and all members are sworn to the single, simple minded, lying mantra: “Republicans want to destroy Medicare as we know it.” Doing nothing will destroy Medicare. Raising oil company taxes will not save Medicare. If that is the Obamacrat answer to the Medicare problem, that answer will destroy Medicare. Saving Medicare for future retirees will require adjustments for future recipients now. The Obamacrat answer is to do nothing now. That will destroy the program for future recipients. Obama has failed to submit a program to save Medicare as required by law. His failure to exercise his duty under the law is reason enough to vote the bum out in 2012.

stefano1 on June 14, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Ample evidence there – in addition to evidence that’s mounted up elsewhere – that Obama is not upholding the law, or his oath of office.

When do the impeachment and removal hearings begin?

Midas on June 14, 2011 at 5:38 PM

I think a unified chorus from the GOP of “What’s your plan, Obama?” will hurt the president.
Rational Thought on June 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Actually, that is a great idea. What would it be like if every member of Congress, every presidential candidate, every Conservative and Republican commentator and pundit began every interview or comment for days and weeks at a time with that question? “Mister President, What’s your plan?”

Make Obama respond by the sheer weight of public opinion, much like Trump asking for the birth certificate. Shove Obama’s lack of leadership back in his face.

Use ridicule. Say that maybe he’s too timid, or too busy, or too inexperienced, or even too lazy to come up with a plan. Showing people now that he is a zero can only help cement that in people’s minds. Make him tell why he has no plan for the budget, no plan for the debt, and no plan for Medicare. Make him own the emptiness and the vapidness that is his presidency.

rlyle on June 14, 2011 at 5:47 PM

That’s ok…Barry will just give them the middle finger while trying to act like he’s responding professionally and all will be well…

Ltlgeneral64 on June 14, 2011 at 5:52 PM

The GOP’s budget men have refused to relent in their calls for serious budgetary changes. House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama to demand he seriously address the need for Medicare reform.

Maybe the reason PBHO isn’t responding is because their letter hasn’t been addressed to the correct golf course or fundraising event. PBHO is certainly never at the WH long enough to read his mail.

GrannyDee on June 14, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Sessions’ Southern drawl might sound gentle, but

Tina obviously has not been to enough (or any) diversity/multicultural awareness seminars. You can’t say this kind of stereotypical thing.

DaydreamBeliever on June 14, 2011 at 4:35 PM

I love Jeff Sessions Southern drawl…of course, I AM from The South.

ladyingray on June 14, 2011 at 6:11 PM

“The ONLY person who can solve this mess is: Anthony Weiner! COUNT IT!”
/crr6

Khun Joe on June 14, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Told ya!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110610/pl_nm/us_obama_golf

When the going gets tough, Barry goes golfing.

GarandFan on June 14, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Beware these fools in next year’s lame duck session. I’m already sounding the warning bells. Call me Paul Revere if you must.

SouthernGent on June 14, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Did you warn the British Democrats?

Mcguyver on June 14, 2011 at 10:07 PM

“what I think is important for the country today”

The key sentence.

It doesn’t matter at all what Reid wants or does. The fact is, they have to vote for it.

They don’t have a budget, the house is Republican, and what they pass, will be – or the US is in limbo until they do. It’s about time Reid found out exactly how much power he doesn’t have.
All you have to do is tell him no, repeatedly, loudly and in public.
We’ve got your backs.

docjohn52 on June 14, 2011 at 10:58 PM

A unified GOP has the capacity to get through the media firewall and put this question front and center if they pound it hard enough. At the very least, it will make it risky for Obama to keep demonizing Ryan’s plan. It has the dual effect of emphasizing Obama’s total lack of leadership on these serious issues, as well as his crass campaign demagoguery.

Rational Thought on June 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM

It matters not one bit what the republicans do, all barry has to say is that his plan is to protect seniors and the republicans want to destroy those same seniors. Seriously, do you actually believe republicans have a chance in hell of changing anyones mind on this issue? You haven’t been watching.

I’d love for the republicans to do what you say, just to show you what a waste of time it would be. Of course, to be fair to your point, if the republicans did what you say it would be more than they’ve ever done in all of history to address this problem, Ryan’s plan notwithstanding.

runawayyyy on June 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM