Obama, Coburn offer competing visions of deficit reduction

President blasts House budget, Coburn says Obama hasn't made serious proposal
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Washington Bureau ccasteel@opubco.com Published: April 16, 2011
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Sen. Tom Coburn, good friends who rarely agree on policy matters, gave dueling perspectives on deficit reduction Saturday, after a work week in Washington that focused intensely on the nation's debt.

In his weekly address, the Democratic president repeated the themes of his fiscal policy speech Wednesday, saying that a balanced budget would require a balance of spending cuts and tax hikes.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, countered in the Republican response that Obama has failed to put a serious deficit plan on the table.

Coburn served on the president's fiscal commission, which recommended spending cuts, changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and an overhaul of the nation's tax code to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020. Coburn supported the plan, but it didn't get enough votes to force congressional action, and Obama never embraced its proposals.

Obama last week outlined his goal to save $4 trillion over 12 years, but made no specific proposals for some of the biggest government programs.

On Saturday, the president called on Republicans and Democrats to work together, but he also attacked the House Republican budget approved Friday.

“It's a vision that says that in order to reduce the deficit, we have to end Medicare as we know it and make cuts to Medicaid that would leave millions of seniors, poor children and Americans with disabilities without the care they need,” the president said.