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Johanns Responds to President's Deficit-Cutting Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today gave the following remarks about the President's speech on cutting the national deficit.

"I had high hopes for the President's speech today. I was encouraged by the announcement that he was finally going to engage in the debate in a meaningful way, yet his partisan criticisms and demagoguery represent a missed opportunity to show true leadership.

"The President criticized those who say we can balance the budget simply by eliminating waste and fraud. He's right. That's unrealistic. Equally unrealistic is the notion he repeated again today that we can balance the budget by taxing the wealthy. He could demand every penny earned by every American who he calls rich and still not balance the budget.

"The President's claim that Americans would be left out in the cold under the Medicare and Medicaid reform proposed in the House is disingenuous at best from a President whose own health care reform adds as many as 24 million more people to the Medicaid program at a time when 40 percent of doctors won't even accept Medicaid patients. It is time to set aside the barbs and work together to avert a crisis.

"Despite being disappointed in the tone and lack of substance in his speech, I give credit to the President for stepping out to publicly acknowledge the need for bipartisan work and the seriousness of the problem. Sixty-two Senators joined Senator Bennet and I in a letter asking him to do just that. Now, the question in my mind is whether the President is willing to move beyond campaign rhetoric to show true leadership."

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