CNN Host: Are Dems Frustrated that Obama Isn’t Directly Dealing With Future Debt?


CNN host Erin Burnett asked Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) on “OutFront” Tuesday whether he was frustrated that President Obama “has not directly dealt with where the future debt that is drowning this country is coming from,” pointing in particular at a looming Medicare crisis.

ERIN BURNETT: Do you ever have frustration, as someone who has tried to be calm, thoughtful and balanced about this, at the fact that the leader of your party, second-term president, whatever he’s put on the table, has not directly dealt with where the future debt that is drowning this country is coming from? And by that obviously I’m referring still to things like Medicare where, when you look at the out years, that’s where the problem seems to lie. Are you frustrated that he hasn’t come out and told the American people that they’re going to be taking a hit there, and that he’s willing to be the one to deal that hit because he can, because he’s a second-term president?

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well Erin, I think he has. If you look at the Affordable Care Act, we achieved $715 billion in savings in Medicare.

BURNETT: But even with that, we’re still looking at this Medicare crisis in the out years.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that’s right. That’s right. But remember what happened in the last election. Our Republican colleagues demagogued those important savings which according to the Medicare actuary actually extended the life of Medicare. In this budget proposal, the president has said that by year 10 or 11, he’s achieving the same amount of Medicare savings per year as projected by Simpson-Bowles, so I think the president has put that on the table. The difference is in approach. In other words, Republicans, through their voucher plan, want to simply move the costs off the Medicare balance sheet and onto the backs of seniors. That’s what happens when you provide someone with a voucher that doesn’t keep pace with rising health care costs. Whereas what we proposed and I think we need to expand on it, is to change the incentives within the Medicare system. You have to move away from a strictly fee-for-service system where nobody has a real incentive to save money, toward one where you reward doctors and providers based on the quality of care. We started doing that with things like the accountable care organizations, but we can build on that going forward.

Full interview: