WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday his fellow Republicans would follow efforts to cut $61.5 billion from this year’s budget with an attack on waste in Medicare and other so-called mandatory U.S. spending programs.
“We’re not just going to cut discretionary spending, but also wasteful mandatory spending,” Boehner told reporters.
Boehner did not spell out the proposed cuts. He said Republicans, who control the House, would move forward on the initiative even before they develop a budget for fiscal 2012, which begins October 1.
The Republican fiscal 2012 budget will counter a $3.7 trillion spending blueprint proposed by President Barack Obama earlier this week.
Republicans have accused Obama of putting off efforts to cut long-term mandatory spending on entitlement programs — including the Medicare and Medicaid health plans for the elderly and poor and the Social Security retirement program — that account for more than half of the federal budget.
But Boehner said Republicans will not shy away from cutting those politically sensitive programs, which are popular with the public.
“I would expect that we would see committees act and the floor act on wasteful mandatory spending cuts before the budget,” Boehner said.
Earlier this week, Obama said he wanted to work on reining in spending on the mandatory entitlement programs and called on Republicans to join the dialogue.
The House is poised to pass by week’s end $61.5 billion in spending cuts for this year, which Republicans characterize as a down payment on broader deficit-reduction efforts to come.
Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing John Whitesides