The first peek at what the incoming Trump administration has planned can be found in HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price’s budget plan, and what the new administration is signaling is nothing less than a war on the nation’s seniors.
The report by the Senate Budget Committee Minority Staff provided a great deal of insight into four areas of Prices’s budget that equal a war on seniors:
Sneaking massive benefit cuts through the back door – The Price proposal includes a devious plan that would likely trigger deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other priorities, while avoiding the need for members of Congress to vote directly for the cuts. The Price plan does this by automatically triggering a process to establish caps on spending and debt levels upon approval of a budget resolution, with the threat of sequestration cuts to enforce those limits. This, for the first time, would allow the Republican majority to ram through cuts to Social Security (among other programs) using a special fast-track process that denies Senate Democrats their normal rights to defend these programs and ensure an adequate opportunity for public input. If Republicans were to pass President-Elect Trump’s tax plan, the resulting increase to the deficit, under this plan, could require cuts to Social Security and Medicare of 13.5 percent, meaning the average Social Security beneficiary would lose more than $2,000 a year. [CAP,10/18/16]
Rigging the budget process to cut earned benefits– Currently, if Congress fails to offset the cost of mandatory spending or new tax breaks, this can trigger across-the-board cuts, or sequestration. However, Social Security is exempt from these cuts, and Medicare is subject to only limited cuts (of 2 or 4 percent, depending on the type of sequestration). Meanwhile, consistent with a previously long-standing bipartisan consensus, most assistance to Americans with the greatest needs is completely protected. By contrast, the Price plan would subject “all programs” to sequestration, “with limited exceptions such as interest payments, Article I judges’ salaries, and intragovernmental payments.” On its face, this could mean that in the future, seniors, the disabled, and others in need could be forced to pay the price, with deep cuts to promised benefits that many earned through a lifetime of hard work.
Unraveling longstanding guarantees to those who rely on Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and other Benefits – Price’s proposal calls for a non-amendable fast track process to end longstanding guarantees to our nation’s middle-class workers, seniors, children, the disabled and millions of others who rely on Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. Instead, these Americans would have to fight annually for these benefits in the uncertain appropriations process, with no assurance their hard-earned benefits will be there at the end. Given the Republican Congress’s long record of failure to even consider appropriations bills on time, this could threaten the security of millions who rely on promised benefits. Meanwhile, Price proposes no similar process to eliminate wasteful special interest tax loopholes.
Rigging the budget with a fast-track for billionaire tax breaks – The Price proposal would repeal the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, which imposes fiscal discipline by restricting Congress’s ability to enact deficit-financed tax breaks and direct spending. This would free Congress to hand out massive new breaks for billionaires and large corporations, while driving up the deficit and laying the groundwork for future Republican demands for additional cuts to middle class benefits.
One gets the sense that many Americans went to the polls without the future of Social Security and Medicare in mind. Perhaps, voters took these beloved institutions that help millions of Americans for granted.
Maybe, they made the mistake of believing Donald Trump when he said that he wouldn’t cut the programs, but as Ranking Budget Committee member Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out while commenting on the report, Trump is a hypocrite, “Donald Trump asked workers and seniors to vote for him because he was the only Republican candidate who would not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – programs that are of life-and-death importance for millions of Americans. But instead he has nominated Rep. Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has a long history of wanting to do exactly the opposite of what Trump campaigned on. What hypocrisy. Trump needs to tell the American people that what he said during the campaign were just lies or appoint an HHS secretary who will protect these programs from cuts and do what the president-elect said he would do.”
The Price budget provides insight into the incoming administration’s plans for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. What it looks like the Trump administration is planning for is a destruction of the social safety net while handing massive tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires, and corporations.
The people who need our help the most are about to punished. The nation’s most economically vulnerable are about to face a full-on assault from the Trump administration.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association