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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.‬

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.