During his campaign, President Trump promised never to touch Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but if he is reelected, that will change on day 1 of his second term.
The problem starts with the new tax bill, which gave massive tax cuts to major corporations and the wealthy. The bill will add an estimated $1.6 trillion to the national debt. So far, the Republicans haven’t said how they will balance the budget, but many of them, most notably Paul Ryan, makes it clear—gutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the three things Trump promised his base that he would protect.
In an interview with Business Insider, a Republican lawmaker talked about their goals for “entitlement reform.”
“Entitlement reform always takes leadership at the presidential level, and it also takes — by the way, real reform takes bipartisanship. … Look, I’m not trying to cast blame,” the Republican lawmaker said. “Nobody’s gotten serious about entitlement reform. So if we’re worried about the debt in 10 years, when we get serious about entitlement reform, then I’ll know we’re serious about the debt. Otherwise, it’s a talking-point issue back and forth.”
He also said that Trump told him he wouldn’t go after Social Security “until the first day of his second term.”
But the biggest champion of ending these programs is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who wants the GOP to tackle balancing the books over the next year. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said.
That would be this year—and if the Republicans get an entitlements bill to Trump’s desk, he’ll be in an awkward spot with his base.
The other issue is that when politicians talk about Social Security and Medicare, they treat it like “welfare,” even though that’s not what either program is. Americans pay for both, amounting to 7.65% of their taxable income. As Trump said back in 2013 on the topic of cuts: “It’s not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money’s worth – that’s not an ‘entitlement,’ that’s honoring a deal.”
But now, it looks like Trump is ready to betray the people who voted for him, and go back on that deal.