Trump urges GOP to avoid cuts to Social Security, Medicare

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Former President Donald Trump warned his party on Friday to avoid cuts to Medicare and Social Security, putting him at odds with prominent House Republicans who are pushing for deep cuts to entitlement programs and a host of other programs to In exchange for raising the national debt limit.

“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in a video message that was more than two minutes long distributed during his 2024 presidential campaign.

“While we absolutely need to stop Biden’s runaway spending, the pain should be borne by Washington bureaucrats, not hard-working American families and older Americans,” Trump said. “Reduce waste, fraud, and abuse everywhere we can find, and there’s a lot, a lot. But please don’t cut benefits that our seniors have worked for and paid their entire lives for. Save Social Security, don’t destroy it.”

Trump also suggested cuts to foreign aid, “left-wing gender programs in our military,” and “billions of dollars for climate extremism.”

Trump’s message comes as newly emboldened House Republicans are trying to exploit the impasse over the debt ceiling to slash spending, insisting that previous Congresses and administrations spent too much on social programs. Some Republican lawmakers have raised the prospect of seeking changes to popular entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare.

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Contrary to Trump’s claims, the state deficit has grown significantly during his term, in part because of tax cuts he passed in 2017 at the urging of a Republican-led Congress. In fact, the national debt has increased by nearly $7.8 trillion during the Trump administration.

Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), voted to raise the debt ceiling three times during Trump’s presidency, but have not insisted on spending cuts in return. The Republican need for cuts — and the threat of a debt default — has been present when Democrats have entered the White House, such as Barack Obama in 2011 and now President Biden.

On Thursday, the government began taking “extraordinary measures” to prevent the federal government from breaching its debt limit. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers that officials would alter certain federal investments to protect the nation’s credit through the summer — mostly through technology moves to buy lawmakers time to pass legislation that would raise the limit.

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House Republicans prepare emergency plan to breach debt ceiling

The White House has repeatedly warned Congress not to turn debt-ceiling talks into a “hostage situation” and blasted Republicans for proposing reforms to Medicare and Social Security.

“This is something that needs to be dealt with. We’re talking about jobs, we’re talking about seniors, we’re talking about veterans. We’re talking about real-life underlying issues that can affect Americans across the country,” White House press secretary Karin Jean- Pierre said on Friday. “The MAGA Republicans in the House want to cut Social Security, or they want to cut Medicare. … That shouldn’t be where we are. We shouldn’t be advancing the debt ceiling discussion this way.”

Last year’s midterm elections highlighted the political risks of advocating, or even ostensibly advocating, cuts to popular entitlement programs.

Democrats, including Biden, seized on a plan released by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that would require all legislation to be updated every five years — or wiped from the books. Democrats emphasized that Social Security and Medicare were established through legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leading Republicans quickly distanced themselves from Scott’s plan.

In event after event, Biden accused Republicans of wanting to put the two programs “on the chopping block,” pointing to Scott’s plan, even though it did not explicitly call for cuts to Medicare or Social Security.

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During the 2016 campaign, Trump criticized then-Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, pushed for reform of Medicare and Social Security.

In fact, Trump appeared to blame Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election on his running mate. Trump said Romney was hurt by Ryan’s previous call for changes to Social Security and other benefit programs for seniors.

Trump said in February 2016: “That campaign ended, by the way, when they picked Ryan. I like him. He’s a good guy, but that’s the end of the campaign.”

Shortly after Republican candidate Romney picked Ryan as his running mate, progressive policy group Agenda Project Action Fund ran an ad attacking Ryan’s stance on Medicare that showed an elderly woman in a wheelchair Thrown off a cliff by a man in a dark suit. The message on the screen read: “Mitt Romney made his choice.  … Now you have to do it yourself.

Jacob Bogage, Jenna Johnson and Amy B Wang contributed to this report.

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