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Biden says his budget plan would extend Medicare to 2050 without adding to the deficit

President Biden speaks to the International Association of Fire Fighters at a conference in  Washington on March 6, 2023.
Saul Loeb
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden speaks to the International Association of Fire Fighters at a conference in Washington on March 6, 2023.

President Biden is proposing a tax increase for people who make more than $400,000 to extend the life of Medicare for another 25 years, highlighting a major element of his budget proposal which the White House will release in full on Thursday.

This year, the president's budget — a policy document that usually is largely ignored by Congress, which holds the power of the purse — comes ahead of a deadline to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.

House Republicans have said they won't raise the debt limit without substantive cuts to federal spending. Democrats, including Biden, have accused Republicans of wanting to see cuts to Medicare and Social Security, two massive sources of federal spending.

Biden published an op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday laying out his proposal to invest in Medicare's trust fund so that the program can remain solvent into the 2050s, a plan that would increase the Medicare tax rate to 5% from 3.8% on people who make more than $400,000 a year.

He also proposed allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for more types of prescription drugs, and using the savings from that to preserve the program. The Inflation Reduction Act that Biden signed last year allowed the program to negotiate prices for some drugs.

"Lowering drug prices while extending Medicare's solvency sure makes a lot more sense than cutting benefits," Biden wrote in the Times, "These are common-sense changes that I'm confident an overwhelming majority of Americans support."

Biden said Medicare has been a "rock-solid guarantee" for retired Americans and said his proposals were "common-sense changes" that most people would support.

Recent polling shows people in the U.S. are split on how best to handle budget deficits.

In an NPR poll last month, seven in 10 people, including a majority of Republicans, said they want their representatives to compromise to find solutions when it comes to the budget. But half of those polled said they preferred a solution that mostly cut programs and services, and 46% said they preferred to see an increase in taxes and fees.

Three-quarters of Republicans said they'd prefer to see cuts in programs and services, but Republicans in Congress have been vocal that cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security are "off the table."

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Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.