Monday, March 11, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He proposed to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Trump's official 2020 budget proposal, released today, calls for $845 billion in cuts to Medicare. Trump is also proposing $241 billion in cuts to Medicaid, and $26 billion from Social Security.

There's nothing inherently wrong with proposing such cuts, which have no chance of becoming law, regardless of which party controls Congress. But Trump distinguished himself from other Republicans during the primary by accusing them of wanting to cut those programs, while swearing that he himself never would. 

For example, in a May 2015 interview with a conservative website, Trump said, "I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid."

A few days later, he gave a speech in which he made the same claim—and then quoted himself in a tweet.

He said the same thing in his formal campaign announcement the following month: "Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it."

In 2017, the Washington Post put together a video compilation that captured some, but not all, of Trump's subsequent promises to leave those entitlement programs untouched.

Trump subsequently accused Hillary Clinton of attending a "secret Wall Street meeting" where she "admitted that she wants to cut Medicare and Social Security." (This was a lie.) He also said that Democrats running in the 2018 midterm elections "want to destroy Medicare."

Why does this matter?

  • People who heard Trump promise not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security may have thought he wouldn't try to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
  • Accusing other people of wanting to do the things you are doing doesn't change the fact that you are doing them.