Trump budget would cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while expanding tax cuts for the rich

“We will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget," Trump lied hours earlier

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published February 10, 2020 5:47PM (EST)

Donald Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

While calling for an extension to his tax cuts for the rich and massive investments in his proposed border wall, President Donald Trump's proposed budget seeks to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"We will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget," Trump tweeted on Saturday, hours before the White House released a budget proposal that sought deep cuts to both programs.

The $4.8 trillion budget proposal released Monday would cut Medicare by $850 billion, cut Medicaid by $920 billion and cut Social Security by $30 billion over the next decade, according to The Washington Post. The proposal would also slash food stamp spending by $181 billion. The plan also calls for a steep 8% cut to the Education budget; a 9% cut to the Health and Human Services Budget, including the Centers for Disease Control; and a 26% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency budget. The Interior Department would see a 13% budget cut; the Department of Housing and Urban Development would see a 15% cut; and both the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development would be slashed by 22%.

However, Trump's budget proposal calls for an increase to the Homeland Security funding and $2 billion in additional funding for his border wall, down from $5 billion last year.

Despite the deep cuts, the budget plan acknowledges that the proposal would fail to eliminate the deficit over the next decade. Trump's advisers vowed to eliminate the deficit by 2028, but it has only grown instead.

The new proposal claims to eliminate the deficit within 15 years, though it would only achieve this through "unprecedented" 3 percent growth through 2025, which are "levels the administration has failed to achieve for even one year so far," The Post reported. 

Growth has continued to decline under Trump, falling to 2.3% in 2019 — the weakest GDP growth since he took office. The Congressional Budget Office projects far lower growth over the next decades.

The budget deficit is expected to increase to more than $1 trillion this year for the first time in nearly a decade, largely as a result of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which blew a $1.5 trillion hole in revenue needed to pay for the budget. The federal debt has grown by about $3 trillion under Trump.

Monday's budget proposal actually called for an extension to individual tax cuts set to expire in 2025 through 2035. The individual tax cuts, which were temporary even though the corporate tax cuts were permanent, would cost another $1.4 trillion, according to the plan. Most of the benefits from the tax cuts overwhelmingly flowed to the very rich.

"All administration policies will pay for themselves, including extending tax cut provisions expiring in 2025," the budget summary implausibly claims.

Congress has rejected most of Trump's previous budget proposals, and Democrats wasted no time in sounding the alarm on his latest plan.

"This destructive and irrational President is giving us a destructive and irrational budget," House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said. "He is proposing deep cuts to critical programs that help American families and protect our economic and national security. Furthermore, the budget reportedly includes destructive changes to Medicaid, SNAP, Social Security and other assistance programs that help Americans make ends meet – all while extending his tax cuts for millionaires."

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who sits on the Appropriations Committee, called out Trump for falsely claiming that he would not seek to cut vital health programs.

"These cuts are a dangerous assault on American families," he tweeted. "With this budget, his promises not to cut Medicare and Medicaid lie shattered on the ground."

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the budget proposal shows that Trump's State of the Union vows were a "lie to the American people."

"By proposing severe cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, President Trump's latest budget is simply a continuation of his war to rip away health care from millions," he said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., added that the proposal shows "just how little he values the good health, financial security, and well-being of hard-working American families."

"Year after year, President Trump's budgets have sought to inflict devastating cuts to critical lifelines that millions of Americans rely on," Pelosi said. "Less than a week after promising to protect families' healthcare in his State of the Union address, the president is now brazenly inflicting savage multi-billion-dollar cuts to Medicare and Medicaid — at the same time that he is fighting in federal court to destroy protections for people with pre-existing conditions and dismantle every other protection and benefit of the Affordable Care Act."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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