During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump set himself apart from the other candidates in the Republican primary field by making a promise traditionally associated with Democrats. Trump repeatedly promised he would not seek cuts to the United States’ two most popular government programs — Medicare and Social Security.
However, in an interview Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump explicitly reversed that campaign pledge. In fact, Trump told CNBC that the two programs are “the easiest of all things” to cut.
Though the interview marks one of Trump’s first public statements for which he has gone back on his pledge to prevent cuts to the two programs that provide a crucial lifeline for America’s senior citizens, Trump had already taken steps to scale back social security. In December, the Trump administration proposed a rule alteration that would make Americans who receive disability benefits through the social security program much less likely to receive those benefits.
The new rule, if enacted, would impose stiff, additional conditions on many of the most seriously disabled Americans, including children, as these citizens attempt to qualify for social security disability benefits.
However, until yesterday’s Davos interview, Trump never explicitly stated that he will “look at” cutting both the social security and Medicare programs.
OOPS. Trump just told on himself.— DNC War Room (@DNCWarRoom) January 22, 2020
He said he's looking to cut your Medicare and Social Security because it's "the easiest of all things" to cut. pic.twitter.com/ef2cDXUJUu
Other than proposed disability rule changes, Trump has yet to propose specific cuts to benefits for American senior citizens, according to a Washington Post report.
With that in mind, Trump’s most recent budget proposal does call for spending $26 billion less on social security, and $1.9 trillion in spending reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, according to a New York Times report.
In the interview, as quoted by The Post, Trump appeared to link cuts to social security and Medicare to what he claims to be America’s “incredible” economic growth.
“We will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look,” Trump said, in response to a question about whether cuts to the programs would be “on your plate.”
“We also have assets that we’ve never had. I mean we’ve never had growth like this,” Trump added.
In reality, economic growth during Trump’s term, while healthy, has been slower than under either President Bill Clinton or President Barack Obama.
As The Post noted, the budget deficit under Trump has bloated to about $1 trillion. The U.S. government is expected to spend about $4.6 trillion in 2020, while taking in $3.6 trillion in revenue from taxes. This would leave a $1 trillion gap that must be filled by borrowing more money.
Trump was not specific about which areas of social security and Medicare would be targeted for cuts. The White House did not respond when asked for comment by The Washington Post.