Trump appears to be walking back prior promises not to cut social safety net programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Donald Trump ran on an absolute promise not to cut entitlement and social safety net programs. On Wednesday, he said he hopes to do just that — and soon.
Asked by CNBC if entitlement cuts were something he would consider, Trump said he would "toward the end of the year."
"At the right time we will take a look at that," he said. "You know, that's actually the easiest of all things, if you look, because it's such a low percentage."
Mandatory programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security actually make up about half of the federal government's spending each year.
Trump also dismissed concerns that he would follow through on past promises not to cut Medicare and other mandatory spending programs, claiming the economy under his administration was the world's "hottest."
"We also have assets that we never had. I mean we never had growth like that. We never had a consumer that was taking in through different means over $10,000 per family," he claimed. "African American, Asian American, Hispanics are doing so incredibly. Best they've ever done. Black, best they've ever done. African American, the numbers are incredible."
Where Trump admits to CNBC’s Joe Kernen this AM that he is looking to CUT Social Security and Medicare at the end of this year. https://t.co/Ce1mkhB2RA pic.twitter.com/pV6AuNAtcm
— Jennifer Baty (@JenBaty) January 22, 2020
Trump's has repeatedly promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, never once conditioning that promise on a good economy.
In 2011, Trump tweeted that a "robust growing economy is how to fix Social Security and Medicare---not cuts on Seniors."
Throughout his 2016 campaign, he used it to differentiate himself from the rest of his party and even Democrats.
"Every Republican wants to do a big number of Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid," Trump said in an April 2015 speech, not long before launching his White House bid. "And we can't do that. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years."
In May 2015, he once again claimed, "I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid."
And days later, he told the conservative 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. I do," he said.
"The Republicans who want to cut SS & Medicaid are wrong. A robust economy will Make America Great Again!" he tweeted in July that year.
Days before the 2016 election, Trump once again claimed that "Hillary Clinton is going to destroy your Social Security and Medicare. I am going to protect and save your Social Security and your Medicare." Again, in December 2017, Trump's then-legislative affairs director Marc Short reaffirmed that the campaign promise not to cut Medicare would be honored, though he embraced cuts to Medicaid to "protect the program."
As recently as October 2018, Trump claimed that he alone could defend Medicare from attacks, tweeting, "Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!" he said.
In addition to contradicting his past promises, Trump's suggestion now, that the robust economy makes it easier to cut entitlements, also makes little sense.
While Medicaid provides healthcare to poorer Americans, Medicare and Social Security provide health and retirement income for older Americans of all economic levels.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.