Obama to announce plan to reduce long-term deficit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will lay out his approach for long-term deficit reduction later this week, his senior adviser David Plouffe said on Sunday.

Obama will look at the Medicare and Medicaid government healthcare programs for the elderly and the poor to “see what kind of savings” are possible, Plouffe told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, without giving details.

Plouffe also indicated Obama was open to a discussion on the Social Security retirement program, although he said it was not a big driver of costs for now.

“In the process of sitting down and talking about our spending and our programs, if there can be a discussion about how to strengthen Social Security in the future: he (Obama) is eager to have that discussion,” Plouffe said.

A White House official said Obama’s speech would be on Wednesday.

Obama and congressional leaders reached agreement last week on a short-term spending bill for the current fiscal year that averted a government shutdown. But it also paved the way for more and bigger deficit-reduction fights to come.

The government could hit the current $14.3 trillion limit on its borrowing authority by mid-May and will need Congress to approve another increase in that debt ceiling.

Congress must also approve a budget for the next fiscal year starting in October, a fight likely to last well into the 2012 campaign season as Obama seeks a second term.

The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, told CNN on Sunday that he expected a broad approach from Obama in discussing the long-term deficit challenge: “I think the president will try to approach this in a comprehensive way,” he said.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Obama to announce plan to reduce long-term deficit