During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), President Trump’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, vowed that if he’s approved, he’ll try and persuade Trump to cut entitlements.
Asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if he agrees that younger workers may have to work more years to “save” the Social Security program, Mulvaney replied, “I have already told my children to prepare for exactly that.” Mulvaney also replied in the affirmative when asked by Graham if he supports raising the retirement age for Social Security.
— American Bridge (@American_Bridge) January 24, 2017
Mulvaney’s position on entitlements differs significantly from what President Trump promised during his campaign.
“[I will] save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts,” Trump said during the June 2015 speech that launched his campaign. “Have to do it… People have been paying in for years, and now many of these candidates want to cut it.”
Last June, Trump told a crowd in Phoenix, “We’re going to save your Social Security without killing it like so many people want to do, and your Medicare.”
The inconsistency between Trump’s statements and the position of the person he’s nominated to be his budget director was highlighted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“Will you tell the president of the United States — Mr. President, keep your word, be honest with the American people, do not cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?” Sanders asked.
But Mulvaney suggested he isn’t concerned about promises Trump made during his campaign.
“The only thing I know to do is to tell the president the truth,” he replied. “And the truth is that if we do not reform these programs that are so important to your constituents in Vermont and to mine in South Carolina, I believe in nine or 10 years the Medicaid trust fund is empty. And in roughly 17 or 18 years, the Social Security trust fund is empty.”
In response, Sanders pointed out that there are ways to ensure the long-term solvency of entitlement programs besides slashing benefits.
“There’s a lot that we can do, including lifting the cap on income [subject to payroll taxes] above $250,000 which would enable us to extend and expand Social Security very significantly,” he said. “But the problem that I’m having right now is not just your nomination but the integrity and honesty of someone who ran for office on one set of principles nominating somebody else whose views are very different.”
Polling has shown that a higher percentage of Republicans support increasing funding for Social Security and Medicare than those who back cuts to those programs, so it makes sense that Trump’s pro-entitlement rhetoric — which was unusual for a modern Republican — played well during the campaign.
But President Trump has already shown a willingness to break promises candidate Trump made. On his very first day in office, Trump broke 34 “first day” promises he made during his campaign, including deporting “criminal aliens,” proposing a constitutional amendment for term limits, and suspending immigration from “terror-prone regions,” among others.