Trump Budget Cuts Social Security And Medicaid, Breaking Major Promises
Donald Trump’s budget is based on dubious assumptions about economic growth and a strategy of extremely deep cuts into many forms of social spending. Two areas Trump has claimed since the campaign trail that would remain inviolate are Social Security and Medicaid. But both would see cuts cuts under this budget.
The budget’s executive summary repeated the claim that Social Security was safe:
This plan will put our Nation’s budget back into balance and begin to reduce the national debt through fiscally conservative principles that respect American taxpayers – all while preserving Social Security and Medicare.
A number of outlets like the New York Times have taken the Social Security claim at face value. But as Center for American Progress Director of Fiscal Policy Harry Stein pointed out on Twitter, Social Security does see significant cuts in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance.
Social Security payroll taxes cover retirement, survivor benefits, and disability. People who find themselves permanently disabled and incapable of working at all — only about a third of applicants pass the vetting process, according to government statistics — can receive Social Security benefits. In 2016, that was about 8.8 million people, a decrease of 1.13% over the previous year. Children and spouses can potentially also become eligible, which can add close to 2 million additional people. In 2016, the total spent was $142.7 billion.
The cuts are supposed to produce total savings of $72 billion between 2018 and 2027 and are listed as a budget line item called “Reform disability programs.” As NBC News reported, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters yesterday that Trump intended only to protect the retirement benefits part of Social Security, although he made no such distinction in the past.
Regarding Medicaid, remember Trump’s promise that no one would lose healthcare. The budget assumes the House’s American Health Care Act passes into law to cut $839 billion from the program over time. Then the Trump administration wants to cut an additional $600 billion over the next ten years by assuming that Medicaid spending would grow at a slower rate. That level of reduction in spending will not happen because of suddenly found efficiencies in healthcare. But the money for anticipated tax cuts must come from somewhere.