Opinion: Social Security Cuts Are On Trump’s Table Despite Campaign Pledge

It is nearly impossible for Republicans to claim that the GOP’s agenda is even remotely popular with the people whether Donald Trump is in the White House or not. Of course, it’s true there are the evangelical fanatics who pretend to support anything if they think it brings them closer to implementing a theocratic government, and the bigot crowd will cheer losing everything they have if they think it will make America an Aryan Utopia. However, nearly everything else Republicans have already put in motion is highly unpopular and there is one GOP voting bloc that is about to see a Trump campaign promise broken with extreme prejudice when seniors comprehend their Social Security and Medicare are set for “reforms” Republican style.

I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid” Trump said on the campaign trail to appeal to the elderly vote. As late as January it was an oft-echoed refrain by his spokespeople to keep the old white Republican voters in the fold. However, as Paul Krugman wrote in November and Forbes reported yesterday, and a “secret” Trump meeting with Paul Ryan last June revealed – Trump was lying and Social Security and Medicare cuts are being “looked at” with a plan to use an old lie to make cuts look appealing. It is implausible they will ever appeal to the elderly, but these days nothing whatsoever is unbelievable.

Last June despite his stump promise, Trump met with Ryan and told him not only that he was on board with cuts to Social Security and Medicare, but he believed they had to be cut from a moral standpoint. He just couldn’t say it in front of one his primary support groups; the elderly and those nearing retirement age. Trump was in a storied meeting with Ryan and the subject of cutting Social Security came up prompting the Trump to assure the House Speaker that despite what he had been saying on the campaign trail,

From a moral standpoint, I believe in it. But you also have to get elected. And there’s no way a Republican is going to beat a Democrat when the Republican is saying, ‘We’re going to cut your Social Security’ and the Democrat is saying, ‘We’re going to keep it and give you more.’ ”

Now it is reported that the White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, the guy running the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) that just announced cuts to the Coast Guard, FEMA, and airport security to fund Trump’s wall is working on cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Mulvaney is preparing a “reform” plan for the Trump to “look at” and still keep his campaign pledge to “not to touch Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.” No kidding, they say this crap in public without blinking; it is how easy lying comes to them.

Mr. Mulvaney said, “There are ways that we can not only allow the president to keep his promise but to help him keep his promise by fixing (cutting) some of these mandatory programs.”

Republicans have been using false information as a scare tactic to provide justification to start dismantling these mandatory programs, piecemeal to start with, for over a decade. In this particular case they will attempt to convince voters that slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is crucial to save the programs. In fact, they claim that getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is just one of the means of saving Medicare and Medicaid along with cutting them. Both healthcare programs have been greatly strengthened by the ACA’s implementation and it is just one of the main reasons Republicans are desperate to repeal the health law; to inflict a fatal blow to the long-term solvency of both healthcare programs.

There is a similar ploy in the works to allow Trump to keep his pledge not to cut Social Security while justifying slashing the retirement savings program. This is despite it is not in any danger of not being able to provide “75 or 80 percent benefits in a short period of time.” That is a favorite recurring theme from Republicans as a frightful ploy to justify “reforming” that highly-popular program.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Social Security trust fund will not have to reduce benefits until 2030 at the earliest, and only then if Congress does nothing whatsoever to increase system funding like raising the cap on high-income earners. Even if Congress stays in Republican control over the next couple of decades, and at some point the Social Security Trust fund “balances to zero, it will still pay benefits.” That is a damn sight different than the Trust is going broke in a couple of years without drastic Republican intervention.

No matter what justification either Trump or Republicans devise to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, Trump’s campaign pledge to preserve them untouched is just another lie. This lie, however, may cost Republicans one or two seats in Congress in the next election but even that is doubtful. Because Republicans have pledged to “reform” (cut) Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid openly for over a decade and since it is a drastic move Trump believes in from a moral standpoint, his pledge “not to touch them” is about to be another in a very long line of broken promises.