As the midterm elections draw closer, a variety of Republican leaders, cognizant of broad public support for social-insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security, have said it’s Republicans who are the true champions of the programs – reality be damned.
Donald Trump went so far as to argue two weeks ago, “We’re saving Social Security; the Democrats will destroy Social Security. We’re saving Medicare; the Democrats want to destroy Medicare.” The president has pushed the same message at some of his recent campaign rallies.
As election-season pitches go, the idea that Republicans will support Medicare and Social Security more than Democrats is as cynical as it is ridiculous. But while the president and some of his cohorts vow to protect these pillars of modern American life, other Republicans are stepping on the party’s message and signaling their intentions to cut those programs.
Today, for example, Larry Kudlow, the director of the Trump White House’s National Economic Council, spoke at the Economic Club of New York, and had this exchange with CNBC’s Becky Quick:
QUICK: Will the Trump administration tackle entitlement reform?
KUDLOW: Well, we’ve already tackled a big part of the newest entitlement, namely Obamacare. As far as the larger entitlements, I think everybody’s going to look at that probably next year. I don’t want to be specific, I don’t want to get ahead of our own budgeting, but we’ll get there.
As CNBC reported, Kudlow added that the White House is determined to reduce federal spending, and “part of the Republican plan to curb spending is tackling entitlements.”
For now, let’s put aside the misplaced boasts about “tackling” the Affordable Care Act – a system Trump made worse, on purpose, though it’s still far more popular than the Republican tax plan.
The more notable revelation was Kudlow’s intentions to target the major social-insurance programs “probably next year.”
Earlier in the summer, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) both expressed their support for targeting entitlement programs as a way of dealing with the massive deficits Republicans created through tax breaks for the wealthy.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but we keep watching key GOP officials admit that they want to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security. Maybe the public should believe them.