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Bush Denies Contemplating Medicare Cuts

Associated Press

President-elect George Bush, enjoying a four-day Thanksgiving vacation at his family seaside vacation home, indicated today he has made no decisions yet on budget cuts but will consider the issue shortly.

The vice president shrugged off questions on reports of proposed cuts in Medicare programs by telling reporters, “I keep reading in the paper a lot of things I’m supposed to be doing that I don’t know anything about.”

“Don’t make judgments based on stories that don’t really have any authority behind them,” Bush said.

Bush spoke to reporters as he and his wife, Barbara, made a surprise morning visit to the village business district to shop.

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Emerging from a wine and cheese shop called The Tipsy Mouse, the vice president said he and his wife had purchased food to serve later in the day at a reception at their home for reporters.

Cheese for Reporters

“We bought the cheese for you guys,” Bush said when asked the purpose of his visit.

Bush declined to comment further on news accounts, including one in today’s editions of the Washington Post, predicting that his Administration will go along with $3.5 billion to $5 billion in proposed Medicare cuts expected to be recommended by outgoing President Reagan in his final budget submission to Congress in January.

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Asked whether he will advocate cuts in Medicare funding, Bush said, “My view is I’ll address the whole budget probably very soon.’

Bush promised earlier this week to send negotiators to meet with members of Congress on the budget deficit as soon as he becomes President.

The strategy is in keeping with a proposal by the man Bush picked to be budget director, Richard G. Darman, that Bush not submit his own rewrite of the Reagan budget but instead work behind the scenes with Congress to forge a compromise.

Savings in Medicare

Darman has suggested that Bush will look for savings in the Medicare program when he begins negotiations with Congress over the 1990 budget.

Joseph R. Wright, Reagan’s budget director, has said benefit program cuts in the President’s draft budget proposal will not reduce payments to the sick or elderly. Rather, the savings are being sought, in part, by slowing the rate of increase in payment schedules for doctors and hospitals under the Medicare program.

Bush has insisted that he will not support any form of tax increase, and will seek to reduce the nation’s $150-billion-a-year budget deficit with a “flexible freeze.”


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