Trump urges GOP to avoid cuts to Social Security, Medicare

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Former President Donald Trump warned his party on Friday to avoid cuts to Medicare and Social Security, putting him at odds with key House Republicans who are pushing for major cuts to entitlement programs and a range of others instead of raising the nation’s debt ceiling. .

“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in a video message delivered by his 2024 presidential campaign, which runs just over two minutes.

“While we absolutely must stop Biden’s out-of-control spending, the pain should be borne by Washington bureaucrats, not hard-working American families and American seniors,” Trump said. “Cut waste, fraud and abuse wherever we can find it, and there’s plenty of it. But don’t cut the benefits our seniors have worked and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security, don’t destroy it.”

Trump suggested cuts to foreign aid, “leftist gender programs from our military” and “spending billions on climate extremism.”

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Trump’s message comes as newly emboldened House Republicans try to leverage the moratorium on the debt ceiling to extract major spending cuts, insisting that previous Congresses and administrations spent too much on social programs. Some GOP lawmakers have raised the prospect of seeking changes to popular entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare.

House Republicans prepare an emergency plan to breach the debt ceiling

Contrary to Trump’s claims, the national deficit grew substantially during his tenure due to tax cuts enacted in 2017 at his insistence by the Republican-led Congress. In fact, the national debt rose by nearly $7.8 trillion while Trump was in office.

Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), voted to raise the debt limit three times during Trump’s tenure without demanding spending cuts in return. GOP demands for cuts — and threats of debt default — have occurred when Democrats like Barack Obama and now President Biden were in the White House in 2011.

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On Thursday, the administration began “extraordinary measures” to prevent the federal government from breaching its debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen told lawmakers she would shift some federal investments to preserve the nation’s credit through the summer — buying time for lawmakers to pass legislation that would raise the limit through mostly technical moves.

Last year’s midterm elections underscored the political risk of advocating for popular entitlement programs.

Democrats, including Biden, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) seized on a plan that would have required all statutes to be updated every five years — or wiped off the books. Democrats emphasized that Social Security and Medicare were created by legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other key Republicans quickly distanced themselves from Scott’s plan.

In event after event, Biden accused Republicans of wanting to put Scott’s plan “on the chopping block,” despite making no clear call to cut Medicare or Social Security.

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During the 2016 campaign, Trump criticized then-Rep. 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), to push for changes to Medicare and Social Security.

In fact, Trump blamed Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election on his running mate. Trump said Romney was hurt by Ryan’s past calls to change Social Security and other entitlement programs for the elderly.

“It was the end of that campaign when he picked Ryan,” Trump said in February 2016. “And I like him.” He was a good man, but that was the end of the campaign.

Shortly after Republican nominee Romney chose Ryan as his running mate, the progressive policy group Agenda Project Action Fund ran an ad attacking Ryan’s stance on Medicare that showed an elderly woman in a wheelchair being thrown off a cliff by a man in a dark suit. Message on screen: “Mitt Romney made his choice. … Now you have to own it.”

Jacob Bogage and Jenna Johnson contributed to this report.


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