Time and time again, popular vote loser Donald Trump told his rally crowds that he would protect Social Security and Medicare. "You made a deal," he said, "a long time ago, a long time ago." And everyone knows how Trump feels about deals. Everyone, that is, but congressional Republicans who are pretty darned sure they can work around him and get the big benefit cuts of their longstanding dreams.
Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with traditional small-government conservatives bent on cutting back or eliminating many of the programs he has championed. Many of his aides and cabinet members have expressed views that are fundamentally opposed to those he campaigned on.
Former Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, for example, the new White House budget director, has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and helped engineer a government shutdown to cut spending. As House Budget Committee chairman, Tom Price, the new secretary of health and human services, supported converting Medicaid to strictly capped block grants to the states and turning Medicare into a voucherlike program for future recipients. Ben Carson, the president’s nominee to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has repeatedly said government programs to help the poor lead to dependency.
The disparity between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his appointments has cheered many Republicans and left Democrats fearing that he will not only renege on his promises to protect the government’s largest entitlement programs but that he will also slash programs he did not mention on the campaign trail that offer food, housing and child care support for the poor.
Republicans reportedly think that Mulvaney, Price and the other deficit peacocks surrounding Trump will be able to talk him out of his promises. They're even reinterpreting those promises with their own talking points, saying that what he really meant by those promises was that he would save the programs for current retirees, but slash them for future generations. "It was really about making sure that those people who are getting benefits or about to get benefits are protected," said Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Freedom Caucus maniac. "If we do nothing, he will not save Medicare and Social Security."
All these Republicans need to take a look at what's happening around them right now, an uprising that even the Wall Street Journal says is "organic" and "grass roots" and "a warning sign for the Republican Party." If the people are reacting this way to Obamacare repeal and Trump's other actions, imagine what will happen when they go after Social Security.