I don’t trust Donald Trump actually to defend entitlements if he actually won reelection – he wanted to cut them in his budget proposals. But his rhetoric is spot-on for sure:
“Donald Trump is going on the attack against potential rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination over Social Security and Medicare,” The Washington Post reported, “seizing on the same GOP division over federal spending that President Biden is seeking to exploit.”
Trump is positioning entitlements as a wedge, focusing on disrupting Ron DeSantis’s momentum. Trump dropped a video last month, encouraging Republicans to use debt ceiling negotiations as a way to cut government spending, but without cutting “a single penny” from Social Security or Medicare.
Donald Trump Says He Supports Entitlements
Social Security and Medicare are sacred programs that enjoy bipartisan popularity.
Conservatives can talk about austerity and government reductions all they want but ultimately, just about everyone wants some form of a safety net.
Donald Trump is recognizing that and making entitlement preservation a core of his 2024 campaign.
Trump’s emphasis on entitlement “reflects potential vulnerability for Republican rivals who were elected to powerful posts in the pre-Trump era, embracing austerity in the last showdown over raising the federal debt limit,” The Washington Post reported.
“President Trump has been clear where he stands on the issue,” Steven Cheung, Trump’s campaign spokesman, said. “Others will have to decide which side they’re on. And others will have to answer to past positions they’ve taken.”
Donald Trump is not the only 2024 hopeful homing in Republicans who have pushed to cut entitlement programs. President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to accuse Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare – suggesting a tact he will surely take in the 2024 election.
But Trump, too, is guilty of targeting entitlements
Trump’s rhetoric, admonishing Republicans who have stood for cutting entitlement programs, sounds great.
The problem is that Trump, too, has targeted entitlement programs: each of Trump’s “White House budget proposals included cuts to Social Security and Medicare programs.”
Worse still, Trump’s proposed cuts to entitlement programs came after campaigning in 2016 on the premise of preserving entitlements.
So, can we trust Donald Trump this time; would his actions if reelection reflect his 2024 entitlement-preserving rhetoric? Doubtful.
Trump was a Republican president after all, and Republicans can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to slashing entitlements. The 2024 GOP field could be crowded with anti-entitlement Republicans. Take Ron DeSantis, for example.
Back when DeSantis was in Congress, he voted for “three nonbinding budget resolutions calling for raising the retirement age and slowing future spending growth for Social Security. He received a 0 percent rating from the Alliance for Retired Americans.”
“I think we need to restructure some of these entitlements,” DeSantis said in 2013. “I think we should try to look at entitlements, look at restructuring Medicare so it’s delivering services at a lower cost to the taxpayer.”
DeSantis isn’t the only GOP hopefully with a track record of hostility towards entitlements. Nikki Haley, who is expected to announce her candidacy imminently, has said that lawmakers should reexamine entitlements in order to reduce federal debt.
“What they need to be doing is looking at entitlements,” Haley said in 2010. “Look at Social Security. Look at Medicaid. Look at Medicare. Look at these things, and let’s actually go to the heart of what is causing government to grow, and tackle that.”
It’s been said before, I won’t harp on it. But entitlements aren’t the problem; entitlements are widely popular; entitlements are a very basic assurance, inherent in any functioning government that treats its citizens with decency.
I don’t trust Trump actually to defend entitlements if he actually won reelection. But his rhetoric is spot-on.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.