President Donald Trump’s wavering stance on whether to protect Medicare and Medicaid, two of the biggest safety-net programs in the country, appears to have reached its inevitable conclusion: He’s hoping to gut them, severely.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the White House is expected to propose a $4.8 trillion budget that aims to slash these popular programs while increasing spending on NASA, defense, and veterans:
The White House proposes to cut spending by $4.4 trillion over a decade. Of that, it targets $2 trillion in savings from mandatory spending programs, including $130 billion from changes to Medicare prescription-drug pricing, $292 billion from safety-net cuts—such as work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps—and $70 billion from tightening eligibility access to federal disability benefits.
While this reported budget is sure to fail—Democrats control the House, after all—it’s still striking to witness the vast gulf between Trump’s stated pledges and his actual priorities. If Trump does unveil his budget tomorrow as expected, it will have been less than a week since his State of the Union address where he vowed to protect Medicare and Social Security. That itself was a galling shift from what he had said just two weeks before, when he publicly threatened to go after those very programs.
“At some point, they will be,” Trump had said in Davos, Switzerland, where he was asked whether entitlements should be cut. “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.”
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of his State of the Union performance, Trump’s promises don’t appear to be more than a “manifesto of mistruths.“