Washington, April 20 (IANS) US President Barack Obama has begun a sales pitch to rein in mounting deficits without cutting down on essentials like infrastructure and Medicare so that one does not have to travel to India to get cheap health care.
"The debate isn't about whether we reduce our deficit. The debate is about how we reduce our deficit," he said Tuesday in a town hall meeting at the Northern Virginia Community College, just outside Washington.
Obama said his plan would ask the wealthy to pay more, would save Medicare and Medicaid by making them more efficient, and would increase spending on education, energy research and roads.
Describing Medicare as "one of the most important pillars of our social safety net," he said: "my preference would be that you don't have to travel to Mexico or India to get cheap health care.
"I'd like you to be able to get it right here in the United States of America that's high quality," Obama said.
"Let's work to see if we can reduce the costs of health care here in the United States of America. That's going to make a big difference," he said urging the audience to help him sell his plan.
Medicare is a government run social insurance programme providing health insurance coverage to people aged 65 and over and Medicaid is a health programme for people with low incomes and resources.
Obama also said that Social Security taxes should rise on incomes above $106,800 to shore up the programme.
He said the Republican budget plan passed last week by the House of Representatives would gut Medicare and Medicaid to finance more tax cuts for the wealthy.
"It's a matter of values and what we prioritise," Obama said.
The campus boasting students from 165 countries in a suburban congressional district that he won last time by 57-42 percent was the first stop of a three-day tour that will blend budget policy with politics.
Over the next two days, Obama will pitch his plan in town hall meetings at Facebook's headquarters in California, where his online audience will include the young people that he courts everywhere, and in Reno, Nevada, another battleground. He'll also raise money for his re-election campaign on his trip.