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Obama's Budget a Mixed Bag

Proposals could affect Medicare and other programs

  • A one-time $250 payment to Social Security recipients would help offset the pain of two years without a cost-of-living increase, said Barbara B. Kennelly, president and chief executive officer of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

  • The budget funds two more years of the "doc fix" — a program to stave off changes to the rate that Medicare reimburses doctors. Without the fix, doctors would see their fees drop and some likely would stop accepting new Medicare patients.

  • About $6.5 billion would be cut from Medicare over 10 years, but the biggest change would be tightening up on Medicare waste and fraud.

  • The budget would add $96 million for a caregiver program to help families keep older adults living in the community for as long as possible. The money would go to agencies around the country that already provide help to seniors and caregivers.

  • The Social Security Administration would see an increase of $1.1 billion, which Martin Firvida said would help with staffing to process applications and other services for beneficiaries.

  • Obama would cancel tax breaks that wealthy citizens now receive, beginning in 2013. He would restore the higher level of estate taxes from 2009. And families with more than $250,000 in income would lose part of their current tax deductions.

None of those tax proposals is likely to win much support among Republicans in Congress.

Obama called on Republicans to work with him on the budget.

"We are all Americans, and we are all in this race together," he said in his budget message. "So those of us who work in Washington have a choice to make in this coming year: We can focus on what is necessary for each party to win the news cycle or the next election, or we can focus on what is necessary for America to win the future."

Tamara Lytle is former Washington bureau chief for the Orlando Sentinel.

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