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Obama's Deficit Plan Returns Focus to Medicare

President to talk about budget in Wednesday's speech

President Barack Obama will attempt to set the tone for the 2012 budget in a speech outlining his plan to reduce the federal deficit on Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. But first, he's invited Congressional leaders to the White House for a morning preview.

The inclusive move comes after Congressional Democrats expressed feeling left out of the loop — many first learned about the president's plans the way the rest of the country did, watching Sunday morning television. But not much is expected to come out of the meeting.

Details on the speech are slim, but Republican leaders are clear:

"If the president begins the discussion by saying we must increase taxes on the American people -- as his budget does -- my response will be clear: Tax increases are unacceptable and are a nonstarter," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

White House officials say the president's plan to reduce the federal budget deficit will focus on entitlement programs, military spending and tax increases.

An earlier plan proposed by House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., outlined deep cuts in entitlement programs – including Medicare and Medicaid – reducing spending by $6 trillion over the next decade. The national debt is about $14 trillion.

In a shift of course, White House officials indicated more cuts may be considered to entitlement programs for seniors and the poor, including Medicare. The White House had previously rejected proposals from President Obama's deficit commission, which had been co-chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, to seriously take aim at Medicare and Social Security to reduce the shortfall.

"You're going to have to look at Medicare and Medicaid and see what kind of savings you can get," Obama adviser David Plouffe said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.

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