Taxes, Entitlements Still Sticking Points In Deficit Debate President Obama outlined a plan to reduce the government deficit through a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. His plan will go up against another blueprint put forward last week by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. Though they both seek $4 trillion in reductions, the plans differ dramatically.
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Taxes, Entitlements: Sticking Points In Deficit Debate

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Taxes, Entitlements: Sticking Points In Deficit Debate

Taxes, Entitlements: Sticking Points In Deficit Debate

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's John Ydstie begins our coverage.

JOHN YDSTIE: As he unveiled his plan yesterday, the president criticized Chairman Ryan's proposal for not keeping America's promise to care for its senior citizens.

BARACK OBAMA: It says that 10 years from now, if you're a 65-year-old who's eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 dollars more than you would today.

YDSTIE: Yet, said the president, Ryan believes that at the same time...

OBAMA: We can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.

YDSTIE: Maya MacGuineas, who heads the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget at the New America Foundation, says the president's proposal shows he's finally seriously engaging in the deficit discussion. But she says the president's plan is short on specifics and should do more to reduce deficits.

MAYA MACGUINEAS: If you look at what Congressman Ryan did, he put out a huge, bold plan, very detailed, and very courageous, because it's hard. You can see, he's going to get beaten up for it. The president wasn't as courageous in what he laid out there, but want he did do is put out something that's doable.

YDSTIE: Robert Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, takes issue with describing Chairman Ryan's proposal as courageous.

ROBERT GREENSTEIN: I don't think it's very courageous to say we're going to really eviscerate programs from the weakest people in the society who don't have political clout and have no lobbyists on K Street.

YDSTIE: But Brian Reidl of the conservative Heritage Foundation sees it differently.

BRIAN REIDL: Because it gives governors flexibility to innovate and to save costs by block granting the program. And so I think you might see a Washington that's meddling less in the innovative ideas that governors have.

YDSTIE: Over the long term, Chairman Ryan's plan offers a vision of a much smaller government with dramatically different healthcare programs, says Maya MacGuineas. Meanwhile, the president sees the government providing most of the services it currently does, only more efficiently. That may not be visionary, says MacGuineas, but...

MACGUINEAS: I think what he's talking about is a really helpful starting point for moving this discussion forward.

YDSTIE: John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.

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