It was just a matter of time…
The Trump campaign was a participant in yesterday’s annual Pete Peterson fiscal summit which each year brings together the nation’s so-called “fiscal hawks” for a full day of doom-and-gloom prognosticating about how Social Security and Medicare will bankrupt America. In case you’ve forgotten, multi-billionaire Wall Streeter and former Nixon Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson, has committed to spend a billion dollars in his war on America’s safety net programs. This annual wing-ding for Washington’s “very important people” is just one of the many ways he spends that money.
Now, you might think Donald Trump would be an unlikely guest at this event given his break from conservatives and often-stated position that he won’t cut Social Security and Medicare. In truth, Trump’s campaign was right at home with the Peterson crowd as his chief policy advisor, Sam Clovis, provided participants a fuller description of what Trump actually plans if elected President. It was music to the anti-Social Security crowd’s ears:
“After the administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. We’ll start taking a hard look at those to start seeing what we can do in a bipartisan way.”
“…I think that whoever [is] the next president is going to have a horrible time in dealing with this, because those entitlements will race to the front of all the economic issues we have in this country.”
In other words, candidate Trump will continue to promise no cuts to Social Security and Medicare on the campaign trail. However, President Trump clearly has a very different plan.
As in all things Trump, he’s provided himself an out. If voters read the fine print, Trump’s claims to leave Social Security and Medicare are completely dependent on the full adoption of his ever-morphing economic plan which promises budgetary magic turning a nearly $10 trillion deficit into a $7 trillion surplus (while also cutting taxes even further for corporations and the wealthy, increasing military spending, building a massive wall and deporting millions). Even conservative columnists, who are thrilled to hear he is willing to cut Social Security and Medicare, left the event stunned:
“Clovis’s fiscal insouciance was breathtaking. ‘Our proposals, what we think will happen, will lead us in fact to about a $4.5 to $7 trillion surplus at the end of 10 years, if all of our initiatives are put in place,’ he said.
Pause for a moment to appreciate the audacity of this claim. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that deficits will total another $9.4 trillion during this period. So Trump is purporting to pay for his $10 trillion tax cut, plus eliminate that additional deficit, plus amass a surplus amounting to several trillion more? Outlandish is too kind a word for this.” …Ruth Marcus, Washington Post columnist
“I understand less about Trump’s budget plan after listening to Clovis than I did before,” tweeted David Wessel of the Brookings Institution.
Maybe so…but Trump’s real plans for Social Security and Medicare are now much clearer.