Joshua Bolten

Joshua Bolten, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, was Thursday's guest. Here are excerpts from his remarks:

On criticism that likely costs have not been written into President Bush's 2006 budget, but unlikely saving have:

"A lot of questions get raised in the partisan debate about the accuracy of our budgets. I have never had a concern about that. I think we presented clear and transparent budgets, and I think we have done it in a consistent way."

On waiting to publish a list of 150 programs the budget would cut:

"As we put our budget out, what we wanted folks to focus on was the overall budget, not this item or that item.... Everybody who is aggrieved knows they are aggrieved."

On whether his offer to work with Congress on controlling the $724 billion cost of the Medicare Drug benefit includes negotiating prices with pharma-ceutical companies:

"Permitting Medicare to negotiate drug prices actually would result in no substantial savings. On top of that, the very last thing we want to do - as we are having ... a wonderful explosion of technology in the healthcare field and especially the pharmaceutical field - is choke that off by reducing or eliminating market incentives."

On the controversy over private Social Security accounts:

"In and of themselves, they don't create the solvency that we need in the Social Security system. But I think they are an integral part of any solution."

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