Obama official urges GOP to show details on health policy

Senior White House adviser Brian Deese on Friday challenged Republicans in the House and Senate to say precisely how they would change Medicare and Medicaid.

Deese’s comments come after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a senior member of the Senate Budget panel, said earlier this week that Republicans should put the baseline figures allocated to the programs in the budget and not list the reforms.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We do not subscribe to the Chuck Grassley theory that the right way to do budgets is to have as few words and as few details as possible,” Deese said at a Washington forum hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

“[For] ours, it's all there for people to see,” Deese said. “We've done this several times, and they know where this play ends.”

Grassley earlier this week argued it’s better to keep such details out of a budget.

“From the standpoint of a budget, the less words of the English language you use, the better off you are,” Grassley said.

Deese said the White House needs to be “clear and be specific and have the president draw those lines not as a way of [increasing] partisanship, but as a way of trying to clearly indicate a path” forward.

“We would be better off both economically and politically if we could get an agreement sooner rather than engage in a whole bunch of brinkmanship,” Deese said. “We know where that ends up.”

The Senate GOP budget released this week would find $430 billion in savings for Medicare by converting the program into a model similar to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that is largely based on block grants to states.

National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients, who joined Deese at the event, said lawmakers and the administration should aim for a deal without any brinkmanship this fall.

He noted that polling shows consumer and business confidence dipped during the last government shutdown — a poor signal to send to the still recovering global economy.

“We hope for the sake of the economy, American businesses, American workers, that Congress has learned that lesson,” Zients said.