On January 22, President Donald Trump said he is open to cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to reduce the national deficit. “At the right time, we will take a look at that,” he said of cutting the programs while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things.”
The federal deficit
Trump wants to cut social programs Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in order to reduce the federal deficit, which has ballooned under his watch at a rate of $1 trillion per year, according to the Treasury Department. Much of this additional debt is due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and excessive government spending.
Trump was asked in an interview with CNBC if he would cut these crucial social programs, to which he answered yes, he would. “At some point they will be,” Trump said. “At the right time, we will take a look at that.”
When directly asked which parts of Medicare would be cut, Trump responded by discussing how strong the American economy is and how he has helped to eliminate poverty and increase employment for American minorities.
The Washington Post leaked audio from a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser in mid-January, in which Trump can be heard saying: “Who the hell cares about the budget? We’re going to have a country.”
Note: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid do not affect the federal budget or any deficits that may incur. They are self-sustaining systems which use incoming payroll taxes to fund benefits.
Trump’s history of Social Security and Medicare cuts
Shortly before Trump formally announced his bid for the presidency in 2015, he told The Daily Signal, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid. Every other Republican is going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do.”
In a formal campaign announcement from later that year, Trump said, “Save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it. Get rid of the fraud. Get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it.”
However, Trump seems to have changed his tune as he gets deeper into his first term. His last budget proposal in March 2019 called for a $1.9 trillion cut in mandatory spending from programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It also called for a $26 billion cut in Social Security and a $10 billion cut from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
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