President Donald Trump’s Social Security plan is in question after tweeting he is going to save the benefits program Thursday, only a day after letting slip that overhauling the program, along with Medicare, are on his administration’s docket for the future.
In a Thursday tweet, the president blamed Democrats for trying to destroy Social Security and mentioned that he has “totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!”
Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2020
The tweet may be interpreted as the president trying to save face, though, as just a day earlier Trump revealed in a CNBC interview that he thought overhauling (i.e. cutting) entitlement programs — Washington code for Social Security and Medicare — would be one of “the easiest of all things” after securing reelection in 2020. Here’s a transcript of the interview with CNBC host Joe Kernen:
Joe Kernen: Entitlements ever be on your plate?
Trump: At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth. This next year I — it’ll be toward the end of the year. The growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things if you look, cause it’s such a —
Kernen: If you’re willing —
Trump: — big percentage.
It’s not the first time the Trump administration has targeted Social Security, either. There is a reform up for public comment until the end of January that would eliminate SSI and SSDI disability payments for thousands, and make it harder for others to retain their disability benefits.
But White House officials were quick to back Trump’s record on so-called entitlements (though, how is Social Security an “entitlement” when someone has paid into it their entire working life?) when asked about the president’s walk-back this week.
“With no benefit cuts, President Trump is keeping his commitment to the most vulnerable Americans, especially those who depend on Medicare and Social Security,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere told Business Insider.
“His budgets have proposed more savings to mandatory programs than any president in history, including lowering drug costs, eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, and getting people off welfare and back to work.”
Social Security is an important issues among voters, especially those that are in retirement or are going to be soon. The issue has largely been ignored in most of the Democratic debates, but former Vice President Joe Biden’s apparent flip-flopping on the issue has come under fire from fellow Democrats like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Only time will tell if “entitlements” stay in the forefront heading into the 2020 presidential election.
• You can find all of the latest and most important news about Social Security here on Money and Markets.
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