Co-authored by Linda Benesch, Communications Director, Social Security Works
Donald Trump ran for President as a different kind of Republican. During the primary, he stood out from the crowd by promising to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He went on to make that promise a centerpiece of his general election campaign.
Even before the election, there was good reason to be extremely skeptical of Trump’s promise. After all, prior to running, he had called Social Security a Ponzi scheme, said that “privatization would be good for all of us,” and, in true elitist fashion, called for raising the retirement age to age 70, because “how many times will you really want to take that trailer to the Grand Canyon?” Moreover, he selected Mike Pence as his vice president. Pence has a long record of attacking Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Indeed, Pence criticized Bush’s Social Security privatization proposal for not going far enough, fast enough!
It is clear that Trump understands how popular these programs are. Social Security has famously been called the third rail of politics – go after it and your political career is dead. In a 2011 interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said he was on board with plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — but that Republicans should be very careful “not to fall into the Democratic trap” by doing it in the open, without bipartisan cover, or they would pay the price politically.
So, did Trump mean what he said during the campaign? Or, did he say what he needed to in order to get elected, knowing all along he would break his campaign promise? Unfortunately, It looks like the latter. After only 100 days in office, he has already jeopardized his promise to the American people in at least five ways:
1. Championing a “health care” bill that would raid Medicare and gut Medicaid
The American Health Care Act, AKA Trumpcare, would be very destructive to both Medicare and Medicaid. Trumpcare raids $117 billion dollars from Medicare, depriving the program of essential funding and giving Congressional Republicans the perfect excuse to call for cuts a few years down the road. It cuts nearly a trillion dollars from Medicaid, which would be a disaster for, among others, millions of seniors, who rely on Medicaid to pay for long term care costs, both at home and in nursing homes.
Trumpcare would also be a disaster for Social Security beneficiaries in their early 60s who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare. The bill would allow insurance companies to charge older customers far more, which the CBO estimates could lead to a massive 750% increase in their premiums. Not only has he not opposed these campaign-breaking promises, he is “disappointed,” he says, that House Republicans haven’t yet rammed this harmful legislation through.
2. Appointing Anti-Social Security Mick Mulvaney as Budget Director
If Trump truly intended to keep his promise to protect Social Security and Medicare, he would be surrounding himself with people who support that goal. He has done exactly the opposite. For the key position of Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, a member of the House Freedom Caucus well known for his fervent support of Social Security and Medicare cuts.
Mulvaney has enormous influence over the budgets of the agencies responsible for administering Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If that weren’t bad enough, he promised both GOP lawmakers and right-wing media personalities that he will…