Donald Trump
Then-President Donald Trump greeted JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and other guests at the beginning of a policy forum in the State Dining Room at the White House on February 3, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump: A Profound Threat to Social Security, Medicare, and Seniors

How do we know? He's already told us—over and over and over again.

Donald Trump was the worst president for seniors in the history of the nation. That is not hyperbole. Alarmingly, if elected again, he will be even worse—and, worryingly, more effective.

When Trump ran for president in 2016, he claimed he would be the one Republican not to cut our earned benefits but, when he actually became president, every single one of his budgets proposed deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, as well as Medicaid.

When Trump couldn’t get the cuts enacted, he employed the old tactic of “starve the beast.” Figuring tax cuts are easier to enact than benefit cuts, he cut income taxes which help to fund Medicare and Medicaid, and sought to defund Social Security, which has its own dedicated revenue source.

Don’t be fooled. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and drug prices are on November’s ballot. Donald Trump will be more effective this time around.

To advance his goal of undermining Social Security, Donald Trump grabbed the questionable power to go after its dedicated revenue unilaterally—something without precedent. Because Trump was limited to executive action, he was able to only defer the revenue, but he made clear that he would not just defer the revenue, but eliminate it, if he were re-elected. Insufficient dedicated revenue leads to automatic cuts. Conveniently, automatic cuts means there is no one to clearly be held accountable.

Trump’s goals to undermine these programs, so vital to seniors, have not changed. Trump continues to claim he won’t cut benefits despite his record to the contrary, but tells the truth from time to time. Moreover, he is reportedly considering, once again, defunding Social Security, if he has the chance. Trump also plans to continue to give his billionaire friends massive tax giveaways.

Watch a montage of Trump promising to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid:

And we know what those cuts will look like. The Republican Study Committee, which includes 80 percent of all House Republicans and 100 percent of House Republican leadership, releases a budget every year. Every year, it contains deep, draconian cuts and radical transformative proposals for Social Security. Indeed, its recently-released FY 2025 budget slashes Social Security’s already inadequate benefits by $1.5 trillion in just the first ten years. In fact, it cuts Social Security by $73 billion in the first year alone.

These are much deeper cuts than are necessary to eliminate Social Security’s modest projected shortfall. And they would occur much sooner than if Congress did nothing whatsoever! Even worse, the Republican proposal would radically transform Social Security, ending it as we know it.

Social Security provides wage-related benefits designed to maintain one’s standard of living when wages are lost in the event of old age, disability, or death. Today’s extreme Republicans want to instead provide only subsistence-level benefits, designed to barely keep beneficiaries above abject poverty. And these radicals propose to privatize Social Security and Medicare, on top of that.

For years, politicians have talked about giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Biden got it done. Thanks to Biden, out-of-pocket insulin costs have been capped at $35 per month, hearing aids are cheaper, and inhaler prices are lower. If Trump wins a second term, he has made clear he will seek to repeal those reforms, just as he sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Nor will Medicaid be spared.

None of this should be a surprise. Before running for president, Trump slandered Social Security by calling it a Ponzi scheme – an illegal enterprise used to dupe and defraud the unsuspecting. He supported privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age, with the condescending remark, “how many times will you really want to take that trailer to the Grand Canyon?”

Before running, Trump praised proposals by former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan that would have destroyed Medicare by turning it into a voucher program, forcing seniors to fend for themselves in a hostile market.

And there’s more evidence of Donald Trump’s true plans. Look who Trump surrounded – and continues to surround – himself with. Everyone around Trump is hostile to these programs.

In 2016, Donald Trump picked Mike Pence to be his running mate, despite the fact that Pence had a clear record of favoring cuts to these programs, including raising the retirement age and privatizing our earned benefits. Pence wouldn’t help Trump steal the 2020 election so he is being replaced – but not because of his policy views on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Those who are reportedly being considered have as hostile or even worse views than Pence.

And Trump’s other appointments were no better. Just to name two, Trump appointed extreme Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid opponent Mick Mulvaney as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and later chief of staff. Mark Meadows, another Trump chief of staff (currently under indictment) also has a long record of supporting massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Perhaps even more concerning than Trump’s hostility to programs that are vital to seniors is his utter disregard for their health and well-being. It was seniors who overwhelmingly bore the brunt of Trump’s completely incompetent handling ofthe COVID pandemic. Too many Americans, disproportionately seniors, died because of Trump.

Democrats want to expand Social Security, expand Medicare, lower drug prices, and force billionaires and multinational corporations to pay their fair share.

Rather than deal effectively with the pandemic, Trump’s administration shockingly used it to further Trump’s goal of undermining Social Security. At the height of the pandemic, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner proposed pressuring desperate Americans, thrown out of work because of the impact and dangers of COVID, to trade their earned Social Security benefits for upfront, immediate cash. Fortunately, it went nowhere, but did show a single-minded effort to rip away the protections of Social Security despite where the focus should have been – on saving lives.

It is essential that the American people not be fooled by the rhetoric. Trump has shown he understands how unpopular cutting Social Security, cutting Medicare, cutting Medicaid, and raising drug prices are with everyone but his billionaire donors. But he showed early on that he understood the politics. In 2011, for example, Trump told Sean Hannity that Republicans “are going to lose elections” if they “fall into the Democratic trap” of advocating cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid without bipartisan cover.

So don’t be fooled. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and drug prices are on November’s ballot. Donald Trump will be more effective this time around. The choice is clear: Trump and his Republican allies in Congress want to cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, and increase the already-huge profits of drug companies while giving tax breaks to Big Pharma and their other billionaire friends. Democrats want to expand Social Security, expand Medicare, lower drug prices, and force billionaires and multinational corporations to pay their fair share.

For the sake of all of our economic security, it is essential that the American people, and seniors in particular, understand this fundamental difference between the two parties and vote accordingly.

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