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Democrats See Perils on Path to Health Cuts

The New York Times, September 14, 2011

As Congress opens a politically charged exploration of ways to pare the deficit, President Obama is expected to seek hundreds of billions of dollars in savings in Medicare and Medicaid, delighting Republicans and dismaying many Democrats who fear that his proposals will become a starting point for bigger cuts in the popular health programs. The president made clear his intentions in his speech to a joint session of Congress last week when, setting forth a plan to create jobs and revive the economy, he said he disagreed with members of his party “who don’t think we should make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid.” Few Democrats fit that description. But many say that if, as expected, Mr. Obama next week proposes $300 billion to $500 billion of savings over 10 years in entitlement programs, he will provide political cover for a new bipartisan Congressional committee to cut just as much or more.