STEVE CHIOTAKIS: President Obama will lay out day after tomorrow — in a speech — his budgetary plans for the future — something to counter a Republican spending plan that overhauls Medicare and Medicaidand cuts corporate taxes. The President and GOP are fresh off a budget scrapping last week that took the government to the brink of shutdown. This week won’t be quite as dramatic, but the budget debate carries on.
Ezra Klein is economic and political columnist for the Washington Post and he’s with us now. Good morning.
EZRA KLEIN: Good morning.
CHIOTAKIS: So President Obama’s going to be out on Wednesday and he’s talking about the budgets for the coming years, right? Do we have any sense of what’s going to be included in his spending plans?
KLEIN: It’s hard to say because what is peculiar about this speech from President Obama is that he has already announced his budget for not only the next year, but in it his budget path for the next couple. But that got panned as not sufficiently ambitious and so he’s coming back with what appears to be a larger opening offer, something that seems more capable of countering the budget proposal Paul Ryan offered a week or two ago.
CHIOTAKIS: This is the plan that Congressman Ryan put forth that cuts Medicare — pretty much redoes Medicare and Medicaid — right?
KLEIN: It does a lot of things. It’s a complicated budget. What’s going to be very difficult for the Obama administration is that the Ryan budget doesn’t quite work. It relies on some very funny numbers at its heart. Mainly that it will hold Medicare and Medicaid to the rate of inflation which essentially every health care policy expert — left or right — agrees is impossible. So how do you counter a budget whose numbers don’t work with a budget whose numbers do work? Forces you to rely on things that Paul Ryan didn’t have to rely on like tax increases.
CHIOTAKIS: We’re talking a multi-year plan here. Is this something that Congress has to approve? Is this just to sort of “Here’s my idea, there’s you’re idea, let’s just try and come up with something really cool.” Or how’s it going to go forward?
KLEIN: That was such a vision of calamity there.
CHIOTAKIS: Oh yeah it is. It’s so not D.C. is it?
KLEIN: “Let’s come up with something cool,” is not usually how they work in this town. Here’s what we need: We need a bill that will fund the government for 2012. That is what we just dealt with for 2011, we did it very late, we almost shut down over it. That is the bare minimum of what Congress will need to pass. The question above that is whether or not we’re going to get a deal that changes our deficit path in the next 10, 15, 20, 30 years — sort of a grand bargain is nomenclature in Washington. That’s what President Obama and Congressman Ryan and this fiscal commission and the bipartisan policy commission and a million other actors in Washington are releasing their plans for right now. But we really don’t know how that will play out yet.
CHIOTAKIS: Ezra Klein from the Washington Post. Ezra, thanks.
KLEIN: Thank you.
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