Obama’s deficit plan draws lukewarm response from Nebraska

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September 23rd, 2011

Omaha, NE – President Barack Obama’s deficit plan was front and center at the U.S. Capitol this week, and drew a lukewarm response from Nebraska’s Senators.

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The President’s plan would reduce deficits by $3 trillion over ten years. It includes savings from the troop drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, trimming Medicaid and Medicare, and cutting direct farmer subsidies.

President Obama announced a $3 trillion deficit reduction plan Monday, which he calls a "balanced approach." (Photo courtesy White House)

“This is how we can reduce spending,” the President said in his speech Monday, “by scouring the budget for every dime of waste and inefficiency, by reforming government spending and by making modest adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid.”

Obama’s plan is drawing criticism from both sides of the aisle, including from the Senators of Nebraska. Republican Senator Mike Johanns addressed the plan in his weekly conference call with reporters, saying it amounts to “smoke and mirrors.”

“He’s claiming savings from a troop drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this is based on the assumption that our troop levels would otherwise stay constant for the next decade,” Johanns said. “These are levels never envisioned or requested by the administration, and it really is fuzzy math to claim a trillion dollars in savings for these items. No one believes that’s a serious proposal.”

Sen. Johanns called the President's plan "smoke and mirrors." (Photo courtesy Senator's office)

The President’s plan also leans heavily on rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans to draw in savings. In his speech, Obama said he won’t allow any deficit reduction plan that does not balance the burden fairly.
“I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare, but does not ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share,” Obama said.

Sen. Nelson said the President's plan should focus more on spending cuts, but not when it comes to veterans' benefits. (Photo courtesy Senator's office)

Nebraska’s Democratic Senator Ben Nelson responded to that part of the plan, telling reporters “all the talk about raising revenues” is “not helpful” and that the President should focus more on cutting spending. But not when it comes to veteran’s benefits. In his weekly conference call, Nelson also criticized the President’s inclusion of requiring veterans to pay in more to their retirement plans.

“Men and women currently serving in our armed services have earned the retirement benefits they were promised when they joined,” Nelson said, “and Washington shouldn’t change the rules of the retirement now.”

Congress is going to have to come up with some deficit cutting they can agree on. The so-called Super-Committee has a November deadline to come up with a plan that will pass and up or down vote, to avoid deep, across-the-board cuts that nobody will like.

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