Obama Lunches With Senate GOP, Focuses On Entitlement Programs

A key message from Republican lawmakers was that President Barack Obama should tone down his rhetoric on changes to Medicare.

Los Angeles Times: Obama Wraps Up His Three-Day Capitol Hill Tour
Wednesday's meeting with House Republicans had a more combative tone, and GOP lawmakers left unconvinced that the president was willing to move toward their positions, particularly on the budget. … Republican senators, though, have been more willing to consider new revenues as part of a broader package that would reduce deficits, particularly by trimming Medicare and Medicaid -- health care programs that are driving deficits. Particular interest seems to be forming on both sides of the aisle around Obama's proposal for tying the cost of living adjustment to higher income levels, so only wealthier recipients would see their Social Security or veterans' benefits reduced (Mascaro and Memoli, 3/14).

The Washington Post: Obama's Third Day Of Lawmaker Lunches Focuses On Tax, Entitlement Reform
GOP senators emerged from their lunch in a buoyant mood, saying that Obama fielded nearly a dozen questions over 90 minutes regarding budget negotiations, immigration, entitlement programs, corporate taxes and federal regulations. … A key focus was asking Obama to tone down his rhetoric on entitlement programs, as Republicans cited his interview with ABC News in which he accused the GOP of wanting to balance the budget by "gutting" Medicare and Social Security. Obama, Roberts said, "tried to better define what he said to George Stephanopoulos." The meeting was a stark contrast to a similar huddle three years ago in a Senate meeting room around the corner, a gathering that took place in the midst of Obama's push for a Democratic-only bill to dramatically reshape the health-care system (O’Keefe, Helderman and Kane, 3/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Republicans: For Deficit Deal, Obama Must Tone Down Attacks And Push Dems To Support Changes
Polite yet firm, Senate Republicans told President Barack Obama on Thursday to tone down his political attacks and prod Democratic allies to support controversial changes in Medicare if he wants a compromise reducing deficits and providing stability to federal benefit programs. Participants at a 90-minute closed-door meeting said Obama acknowledged the point without yielding ground — and noted that Republicans criticize him freely. "To quote an old Chicago politician, 'Politics ain't beanbag,'" the president said (3/14).

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