Op Ed

Trump Wants to Slash Social Security

If reelected will push for this. Has proposed $1.9 trillion cut in entitlement programs.

By - Jan 27th, 2020 11:54 am
Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

While hobnobbing with corporate and political elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Donald Trump dropped a bombshell with CNBC. Asked if he would consider cuts to entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Trump responded: “At the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things … .” A second term will expand what Trump has already proposed in cuts.

“His last budget proposal called for a total of $1.9 trillion in cost savings from mandatory safety-net programs, like Medicaid and Medicare. It also called for spending $26 billion less on Social Security programs …, including a $10 billion cut to … Social Security Disability …” (NYT). Too much for even a GOP-led Senate. That did not deter Trump. The White House is getting ready to roll out a new policy “that would strip disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of Americans” (Forbes). So much for Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge: “there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Trump’s only legislative accomplishment, the $1.5 trillion tax cuts, has ballooned the deficit to over $1 trillion. Despite exuberant promises, the tax cuts did not pay for themselves. However, the rich got richer and corporate tax revenue plunged. “400 of America’s largest corporations paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent … last year …, roughly half the official rate … 91 (Fortune 500) corporations … paid no federal taxes last year” (Washington Post).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made his intentions clear in 2018, after the tax cuts passed. Bloomberg’s lead blared: “McConnell Blames Entitlements, Not GOP, for Rising Deficits”. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin tweeted: “This is Washington-speak for cutting the Medicare and Social Security benefits you have worked hard to earn and making you pay for the tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires”. Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson, one of the richest senators, had aggressively secured reduction in pass-through taxes (most income from such partnerships goes to the top 1 percent). The NYT estimated that “Johnson earned between $215,000 and just over $2 million in pass-through income in 2016 … .”

However, a shameless Johnson calls Social Security “a legal Ponzi scheme” and has indicated that he would “consider” unspecified Social Security privatization. Count on Johnson’s supporting Trump to sharply cut entitlement programs. Both will pretend the opposite. Already Trump is trying to walk back his talk of cutting entitlements. Trump tweeted: “Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone (a lie), as promised, and will save it!” A sick joke given that Trump is bankrupting the country.

Trump and the GOP are racing to see how cruel to be: do nothing to help troubled private pension plans; eliminate the Affordable Care Act and remove 4 million Americans, including thousands of Wisconsinites, from receiving food stamps. Trump and the GOP only hear the wealthy.Trump, if reelected, will dramatically cut Social Security and more.

Bill Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

3 thoughts on “Op Ed: Trump Wants to Slash Social Security”

  1. kmurphy724 says:

    We should make a drinking game for when the GOP starts hollering “deficit deficit’ as a Democrat takes the White House!

  2. frank a schneiger says:

    This story was unfortunately buried amid the many other outrages of the day. It should not be and should be a centerpiece of every Democrat’s campaign for every office this fall. Among the many destructive things the Republicans have done during this administration, the most egregious may be the enormous tax cut given to the wealthy and corporations, a cut which, as always promised, was going to pay for itself. As we now face an endless stream of trillion dollar annual deficits, Trump, Mnuchin and the gang continue to spin the fantasy that someday it will pay for itself. The Paul Ryan wing meanwhile drools at the opportunity to use these deficits to get rid of the social programs that their kind have hated since the New Deal. And, as an added note of terror, when the next recession inevitably does arrive, the pathway out is very difficult to see, given these vast and endless deficits along with the gutting of the federal government. (Anyone who thinks “there’s always a way out” should read the history of the last 30 years of the 19th century in this country.

    So, here is a thought for restructuring our fractured federal system and a way to focus the upcoming campaign. There should be a commitment from all of the candidates that those states that give Trump/Republicans their largest margins should be given a carve out/waivers to allow the full Republican program that they claim to want to be implemented. All the things Republicans have advocated for years. Specifically, cuts to Medicare, e.g., “vouchers,”Social Security, i.e., private accounts, Medicaid, i.e., purge undesirables, aka poor people and the elderly, and related social programs in those Republican/Trump states; more tax cuts for rich people and corporations to spur an economic miracle in those states, waivers and further gutting of all (remaining) environmental laws and regulations, no investment in infrastructure, giving ICE and related agencies a free hand to hunt down and deport immigrants, weaken civil rights laws and any gun laws,

    The one other proviso in this program should be that these states will receive federal dollars only in proportion to their contribution to the federal budget. No more surplus/deficit states, the so-called “level playing field.” This would, at least temporarily, be marginally good for Wisconsin and bad for every Republican state in the country, except that it is all exactly what they have claimed to want for many years.

  3. Georgeneq says:

    I don’t think his wealthy donors will approve of this since many of them collect Social Security, regardless of income and wealth. As an example, Warren Buffet collects Social Security.

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