THE PRESIDENT: Actually, Larry and I, and most of my economic team -- in fact, all of my economic team -- have consistently maintained that there is a way to reconcile the concerns about debt and deficits with the concerns about growth.Sorry, O, but having the smallest discretionary budget since Eisenhower isn't something of which to be proud. You can't complain about sequestration cuts and extol record low social spending.
What we know is, is that our fiscal problems are not short-term deficits. Our discretionary budget, that portion of the federal budget that isn't defense or Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, the entitlement programs, is at its smallest level in my lifetime, probably since Dwight Eisenhower. We are not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs out there. And in many ways, a lot of these programs have become more efficient and pretty effective.
Defense, we spent a lot from 2001 to 2011, but generally we are stabilizing. And the Pentagon, working with me, have come up with plans that allow us to meet our security needs while still bringing down some of the costs of defense, particularly after having ended the war in Iraq and on the brink of ending the war in Afghanistan.You want to stay in Afghanistan until "2024 and beyond." That's not "on the brink" of being over.
Also, there's that thing about the Cold War being over and the U.S. not facing any existential threats. Yeah, that. Remember that?
So when we talk about our deficit and debt problems, it is almost entirely health care costs. You eliminate the delta, the difference between what we spend on health care and what every other country -- advanced industrialized nation spends on health care, and that’s our long-term debt. And if we’re able to bend the cost curve, we help solve the problem.
And we could balance the budget with a genuinely universal system such as those in other advanced industrial countries.
Now, one way to do that is just to make health care cheaper overall. That’s I think the best way to do it, and that’s what we’ve been doing through some of the measures in the Affordable Care Act. There are some other provisions that we could take that would maintain our commitment to seniors, Medicare, Social Security, the disabled, and Medicaid, while still reducing very modestly the costs of those programs.
To me, that's code for chained CPI and means testing, both of which he wants.
And here he is again saying that he and Republicans see largely eye-to-eye on social insurance. (Remember when he said that in the first debate?)
If we can get beyond the tactical advantages that parties perceive in painting folks as extreme and trying to keep an eye always on the next election, and for a while at least, just focus on governing, then there is probably 70 percent overlap on a whole range of issues. A lot of Republicans want to get infrastructure done, just like I do. A lot of them believe in basic research, just like I do. A lot of them want to reform entitlements to make sure that they’re affordable for the next generation; so do I. A lot of them say they want to reform our tax system; so do I.