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Portman: Congress Should Move on Cuts to Medicare Spending

Photo: U.S. Government Printing Office
Photo: U.S. Government Printing Office

While this year’s contribution to the national debt load will fall from $1.1 trillion in 2012 to an estimated $492 billion, the Ohio Republican says the longer term trajectory remains treacherous.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington this week, Portman said scaling back Social Security and Medicare are some of the only options left -- and would go the furthest.

"The anti-poverty programs, education programs, veterans’ spending programs as well as the retirement benefits of the already retired have mostly been taken off the table by Republicans and Democrats, so the options are really pretty limited," Portman said.

Portman would expand “means testing” for seniors on Medicare, so more people would be subject to higher premiums for the government healthcare program. President Obama has supported the idea in the past and put it in his most recent budget proposal.

But many in his own party have resisted any reductions in benefits. Democrats also say cuts would have to come along with new revenues.

Portman also said he wanted more extensive income tax changes, reducing rates and requiring more people to pay.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.