Trump says he'll cut entitlements like Social Security and Medicare if reelected to shrink trillions in national debt

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesDonald Trump at a Fox News town hall, March 2020.
  • Trump said at a Fox News town hall forum that he was intending to reduce funding for Social Security and Medicare, two of the largest federal entitlement programs.
  • “Oh, we’ll be cutting,” he said. “We’re also going to have growth like you’ve never seen before.”
  • The move would be a reversal from Trump’s pledge to leave those programs untouched in a second term.
  • He previously expressed a willingness to reduce funding for Social Security and Medicare in a second term.
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President Trump said at a Fox News town hall forum that he intended to cut entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Trump was asked during the interview about the $US23 trillion national debt, which has continued surging under his watch. He campaigned on 2016 on wiping it out but instead passed laws like the 2017 tax cuts, which piled more onto it.

At the town hall, Fox News host Martha MacCallum told the president that if “you don’t cut something in entitlements, you will never really deal with the debt,” and Trump immediately responded.

“Oh, we’ll be cutting,” he said to the Scranton, Pennsylvania, audience. “We’re also going to have growth like you’ve never seen before.”

The comments appear to be a reversal from Trump’s promise to leave the two largest federal government programs untouched in a second term. In a CNBC interview last month, Trump expressed a willingness to cut funding for both programs.

“At the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look,” he told CNBC’s Joe Kernen.

He rowed back on those remarks a day later and has sought to defend his record on entitlements.

Earlier last month, Trump tweeted: “We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget. Only the Democrats will destroy them by destroying our Country’s greatest ever Economy!’

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham defended the president’s Fox News town hall comments on Twitter, saying that Trump was speaking “about cutting deficits, NOT entitlements.”

Social Security and Medicare represent a major chunk of government spending, and they constituted almost 40% of the federal budget in 2018. Social Security alone makes up nearly a quarter of all federal spending.

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that both programs will cost $US30 trillion over the next decade. But any efforts at reform would likely encounter resistance from Democrats pledging to shield Social Security and Medicare from future cuts.

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