Flashback: Obama in 2009: Medicare and Medicaid ‘Are Really Breaking the Bank’

April 6, 2011 - 1:25 PM

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama speaks at a conference on bullying prevention in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama, in marking his first 100 days in office in 2009, said that Medicare and Medicaid were the biggest problems the government faced and that they were “really breaking the bank,” adding that the federal government needs to “tighten our belts … in an intelligent way.”

Answering a question at a town hall event in Arnold, Mo., on April 29, 2009, Obama said that Medicare and Medicaid – rather than Social Security – were the entitlement programs that posed the greatest risk to the federal budget.

“The big problem we have with entitlements is not Social Security, it's Medicare,” he said. “Medicare and Medicaid, the two health care programs that the federal government helps support, those are the things that are really breaking the bank.

“What we face long term, the biggest problem we have is that Medicare and Medicaid – health care costs are sky-rocketing, and at the same time as the population is getting older, which means we're using more health care,” said the president.

“You combine those two things, and if we aren’t careful, health care will consume so much of our budget that ultimately we won't be able to do anything else,” Obama added.

Obama also said that to deal with the long-term fiscal problems posed by Medicare and Medicaid, the government would have to trim its budget.

“We are going to have to tighten our belts, but we're going to have to do it in an intelligent way, and we've got to make sure that the people who are helped are working American families,” Obama said.

However, Obama never proposed any changes to Medicare or Medicaid, except for cutting $500 billion from the Medicare Advantage program as part of Obamacare. That move, which will save the government money, is not near enough of a cut to save the budget from the ever-growing burden of federal entitlements.

Further, the White House recently denounced the only proposal on the congressional table that would prevent Medicare and Medicaid from causing an economic crisis.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, released a budget on April 5 that would transform Medicare and Medicaid and prevent them from causing a fiscal crisis.

The White House, however, said that Ryan’s plan “failed.”

“Any plan to reduce our deficit must reflect the American values of fairness and shared sacrifice. Congressman Ryan’s plan fails this test," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

“The president believes there is a more balanced way to put America on a path to prosperity,” said Carney. “But despite our differences, all of us – Democrats and Republicans – have an obligation to find common ground in a way that is true to our values and meets our responsibilities to the American people.”

However, the White House did not include such a plan in its 2012 budget, nor has it proposed one in the nearly two years since Obama’s 100-day address.