Jan 22, 2020

Trump suggests entitlement cuts could come in his second term

Trump himself, waving his hand
Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images.

President Trump suggested in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum Wednesday that he may consider cutting entitlement programs if elected to a second term.

Why it matters: Trump shied away from committing to cuts to social safety-net programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security during his 2016 campaign. But his willingness to consider such measures now marks a shift that would likely appeal to the deficit hawks in the Republican Party.

  • Trump said in his 2015 campaign launch speech that America needs to "save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts."
  • Asked by CNBC Wednesday if cuts to entitlements would now be something he'd consider, Trump responded: "At the right time, we will take a look at that."
  • Asked directly about cuts to Medicare, Trump reiterated: "We're going to look," but did not offer specifics.

The big picture: The president's latest budget proposal already called for $1.9 trillion in cost savings from mandatory safety-net programs like Medicare and Medicaid, as well as $26 billion less in spending on Social Security programs, the New York Times notes.

Between the lines, via Axios' Jonathan Swan: ‪Trump has spoken often, privately, about a “year five” of fiscal discipline. Some view this as a way of appeasing freedom caucus types and fiscal hawks in the administration.

  • One aide told Axios they were deeply skeptical he would follow through and said they considered it a way to get the hawks off his back until November 2020.‬

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