“We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, ” President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend.
Yet, when the White House released its proposed $4.8 trillion election-year budget on Monday, it appears Medicare — as well as Medicaid — would receive reduced funding.
So which is it?
As is the case with nearly every question rooted in politics, it depends on who is answering the question.
Acting White House Budget Director Russell Vought denies the White House budget would lead to benefit reductions for Medicare and Medicaid.
“This continues to be a budget that funds priorities where the president supports spending money,” Vought said. “We are trying to fund what his priorities are, what his campaign commitments are, and finding savings and inefficiencies where we possibly can.”
Hmm, that Jell-O-like answer doesn’t tell us much about how a proposed cut in spending won’t alter services.
Meanwhile, Democrats are incensed by the proposed cuts, some offering rhetoric that might make one wonder if the nation will survive another year.
“This is the future President Trump envisions for our nation,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky. “One where the federal government relinquishes any responsibility for the well-being of the American people in our nation. What the president has put forth is a destructive and irrational budget that intentionally goes after working families and vulnerable Americans.”
In reality, the White House budget will look nothing like the actual budget Congress will eventually approve. It’s the House and Senate that make the spending decisions.
The president’s proposal is essentially a conversation starter, and one thing that the Democrats and Republicans can probably agree on is that Trump seems to enjoy disputatious conversations.
Well, the heated debate moving forward will be about Medicare as well as the president’s call for more spending on the military, veterans and opioid control and cuts to the Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and education.
As the Democrat-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate work on the budget process, the White House will use its requests to make deals. So, too, will the lawmakers. Cuts to one program will be taken off the table if more money can be appropriated for presidential or congressional priories.
In the end, fewer things get cut — and that’s why deficit spending continues and at he national debt grows.
As to Social Security and Medicare, they will stay intact. Neither party has the political will to mess with these two incredibly popular government programs.
The rhetoric from the White House and Congress is merely posturing for the budget battle ahead.