Donald Trump lies about everything from the size of his inauguration crowds to his promise to provide “great health care for a fraction of the price” to every person in America. So, it’s no surprise that Trump is lying when his Administration says his just-released budget proposal doesn’t cut Social Security. In fact, it cuts billions from that vital program.
There is good reason that he is covering up the truth. The truth is a complete contradiction of his repeated campaign promise not to cut Social Security. He bragged that his refusal to cut Social Security differentiated him from his Republican Primary rivals, who had their knives at the ready. His voters tend to be older and more rural. They will be hit the hardest by his duplicity.
Trump’s Administration is seeking to cover up the breaking of this key promise by claiming that Social Security disability insurance, which the budget cuts, is not really Social Security, or, at least, not an important part of Social Security protection – though it has been part of working families’ earned Social Security benefits for more than six decades and is the nation’s most important protection for working families hit with work-ending disabilities!
Unfortunately, too many reporters are parroting the White House lie, spreading the falsehood that the budget doesn’t touch “core” Social Security benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth. To start, just look at the name: Social Security disability insurance! It is Orwellian to say that Social Security disability insurance is not Social Security. It would be like claiming that only the Army and Navy are core parts of the armed forces, so cutting the Marines and Air Force is not cutting the armed forces.
This is part of a divide-and-conquer strategy, designed to dismantle our Social Security system brick by brick. There are people with disabilities who receive retirement benefits and survivor benefits. And there are disabled workers’ spouses and children who are able-bodied and receive disability benefits. The program is seamless and completely interconnected. All benefits are generated from a single benefit formula. Indeed, workers who become disabled prior to retiring receive disability benefits until their retirement age and then receive retirement benefits.
Another part of the divide-and-conquer strategy making its way into the false narrative about Trump’s just-released budget is that cuts to Social Security and Meals on Wheels are somehow good for children under the rationale of a supposed intergenerational war. Only in the political world of Washington could anyone argue with a straight face that hurting grandparents is good for grandchildren. In fact, Social Security is not only the most important source of economic support for seniors; it is the nation’s largest children’s program because of the insurance it provides them when they lose parental support as the result of death or disability. And it is the most important source of income for children living with their grandparents.
Don’t believe the lie that the cuts to Social Security disability insurance are simply designed to help people return to work. The test for disability is among the strictest in the world. People do not receive benefits unless they can prove that they are unable to earn a living at any job – even if the job they can work at doesn’t exist in their area or there are no jobs available. However the proposals are dressed up, they are, at base, cuts that weaken all of our protection. These are all earned benefits that are being snatched away from the most vulnerable among us. The earned benefits of hard-working Americans who have the misfortune to suffer a work-ending illness or accident. All of us are one traffic accident away from joining their ranks.
What is going on is an effort to divide us, in order to get a toehold toward their real goal– ending Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Don’t be fooled by Trump’s campaign rhetoric. Prior to running for President, he called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. He advocated ending the program by privatizing it. claiming that “privatization would be good for all of us.” And, in true elitist fashion, he called for raising the retirement age to age 70, because “how many times will you really want to take that trailer to the Grand Canyon?”
Moreover, even as he was lying to the electorate about protecting Social Security, he selected Mike Pence as his vice president. Pence has a long record of attacking Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Indeed, Pence criticized Bush’s Social Security privatization proposal for not going far enough, fast enough!
As President, Trump has chosen a staunch opponent of Social Security, Mick Mulvaney, for the key position of Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Prior to becoming OMB director, Mulvaney was a member of the reactionary House Freedom Caucus and was well known for his fervent opposition to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
And Trump has picked another staunch opponent of these programs, Tom Price, to head the cabinet department that runs Medicare and Medicaid, He is just as hostile to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as the others. In fact, he has threatened, “We will not rest until we make certain that government-run health care [i.e., Medicare and Medicare] is ended.” Moreover, by virtue of his position, Price is a trustee of Social Security. Talk about a fox in the henhouse!
It is clear why Trump is trying to hide his efforts to undermine Social Security. He understands how popular it is. In a 2011 interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said he was on board with plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — but that Republicans should be very careful “not to fall into the Democratic trap” by doing it in the open, without bipartisan cover, or they would pay the price politically.
Underreported but devastating in its potential impact, Trump has already, in his short tenure, gone after Medicare and Medicaid. He enthusiastically champions Trumpcare, which raids billions of dollars from Medicare, depriving the program of essential funding and giving Congressional Republicans the perfect excuse to call for cuts a few years down the road. It cuts nearly a trillion dollars from Medicaid, on the road to dismantling it. Trump’s budget would speed the destruction of Medicaid by cutting an additional $610 billion on top of the Trumpcare cuts.
Trumpcare would also be a disaster for Social Security beneficiaries in their early 60s who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare. The bill would allow insurance companies to impose an age tax, which the CBO estimates could lead to a massive 750% increase in their premiums.
And now he is going after Social Security directly. His motive is obvious. His priorities are tax cuts for him, his family, and his billionaire friends, not the economic security of the American people.
Hold him accountable. And the media. And your representatives and Senators. Call 202-224-3121 and demand that your Senators and Representative denounce Trump’s budget. Remind them that if they support this budget, they will be supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicaid. If they are foolish enough to endorse the budget, let them know that you, your family, friends, and neighbors will hold them accountable. You will grill them at town hall meetings and vote against them in 2018, or the next time they are on the ballot.