Budget panel chairman: Entitlement reform must start in Senate

Serious entitlement reform must originate in the Senate, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said Wednesday.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the budget panel, said the only hope for entitlement reform would be the bipartisan talks among a small group of senators.

"At the end of the day, my own judgment is this has got to start in the Senate, it's got to be bipartisan, and if we demonstrate that a group of us — a significant number of us — can come together, I believe that will bring the president and House to the table," Conrad said on MSNBC. "Because then they'll be under intense pressure."

President Obama's budget avoided including any reform plans for programs like Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The president said a bipartisan, "adult conversation" was needed to spur entitlement reform, but he declined to get specific about his own preferences.

House Republicans responded to the budget by vowing that their forthcoming budget would include entitlement reform plans, though Democrats have already hammered away at the forthcoming plan, warning that it would privatize Social Security or other programs.

Conrad pointed out, though, that most House members of Obama's fiscal commission last year opposed its final outcome, suggesting to the outgoing North Dakota Democrat that the Senate posed the best hope for reform.


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