When Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency in 2015 he said, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” But like many other things the president says, his pledge to protect popular federal social safety net programs is demonstrably false.
Just two days after tweeting a message that his administration won’t be touching Social Security or Medicare, Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget proposal included a $850 billion cut to Medicare, a $920 billion cut to Medicaid and Social Security would be reduced by $30 billion over the next 10 years. The Trump budget would also slash foods stamp SNAP spending by $181 billion, reduce the Education budget 8 percent, and cut the Environmental Protection Agency 26 percent. Alongside these major spending cuts, Trump wants to extend his tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and increase spending for the Pentagon and his unpopular border wall.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, who talks about the impact of Trump’s proposed cuts to the nation’s federal social programs and the work his group is doing to educate the public on this threat posed by the Trump regime in this election year.
ALEX LAWSON: This is just another confirmation that Donald Trump is a continual liar. I mean, this is a man who on the debate stage when he was running for president multiple times, differentiated himself from the other Republicans by saying, I will not cut your Social Security. I will not cut Medicare and I will not cut your Medicaid. And his budget year after year proposes to cut each and every one of those programs. The cuts to Medicaid, for example, would basically destroy the program – Medicaid being the largest provider of long-term care in the country. You partner that with the cuts to Medicare and we’re talking about people losing access to their healthcare that they need. And you know, he tries to gloss it up by saying, “Oh, I’m only cutting this part or not that part.”
And there are these hacks on Twitter who are trying to sell that “a cut is not actually a cut if I call it a different name.” Or his own hack, his Treasury Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin who went before the Senate and tried the same tack, to say, you know, “Oh sure, we’re cutting over $1 trillion from these programs. But those aren’t cuts. Those are just deductions.” The thing is, this is an ideological assault on our own benefits and his budget is just the moral document that he is stating where his heart and his intentions are.
But we don’t even need to look just at the budget. We can also look at what his administration is doing and they’re currently trying to destroy Medicaid. Block grants. Work requirements. Currently trying to cut and steal our Social Security benefits with these rule changes that he’s trying to implement. The budget is just a statement of the moral vision of a political party. Or in this case, an immoral vision, a vision that would rob the people of our earned benefits to hand it to billionaires on Wall Street who then funnel money back into Donald Trump’s campaign to try to keep this wholesale looting of the American public going.
SCOTT HARRIS: Alex, cuts to Social Security and Medicare have been for many years the third rail of politics: You touch it, you die. Is that still true today? Are there consequences for Donald Trump and his re-election campaign because he is proposing these deep cuts to these very popular programs.
ALEX LAWSON: So it is still the third rail of politics. But there is this distortion factor in that if you actually go out and talk to, say a Fox News consuming household who get the news from Fox News or the other right-wing outlets out there, I would bet you that they don’t even know that the president has proposed this in his budget. Or they don’t believe it. And they definitely don’t know the things that President Trump has proposed and is currently enacting that are hurting their health care right now. It’s kinda like the fact that his administration is pushing a lawsuit that would actually rip health insurance away from everybody whose health insurance was extended to under Obamacare, by just getting rid of Obamacare. But he asked the court to actually hold that until after the election, which they’re going to do. And then he would have the audacity to say that he’s trying to protect people’s health care and Fox News and the right-wing outlets actually just note that. You know, they just pass that right along to their media consumers.
And the difficulty here is that there’s millions of Americans who just do not understand they don’t have a clear line of information about what the Trump administration is actually doing in Washington D.C. Now truth tellers like yourself and your listeners actually get the word out there and yes, Social Security and Medicare is absolutely the third rail of politics. Republicans need all the senior votes that they get. They can’t lose a single, a single senior vote because that is actually base in many respects. And so they go out of their way to obfuscate and to lie about the cuts that they’re proposing. And too much of the corporate media and the right- wing media just go right along with it. So it is the third rail, but not enough people know about the cuts that are being proposed.
For more information on Social Security Works, visit socialsecurityworks.