| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

Trump warns U.S. House Republicans not to touch Social Security, Medicare

In an effort to force spending cuts from President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in the impending dispute over the debt ceiling, former President Donald Trump on Friday advised his fellow Republicans not to “destroy” federal retirement and health benefits.

In a two-minute video message shared on social media, Trump asserted that Republicans should never vote to take even a single penny from Medicare or Social Security. This could test his ability to sway the party, which now controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security. Don’t destroy it!”

Trump’s call to protect the two single largest federal spending programs could put him at odds with some House Republicans who have said they should not be off the table in budget talks.

Social Security, which provides retirement and disability payments, accounted for 17% of federal spending in the 2021 fiscal year, while Medicare, the health-insurance program for seniors, accounted for 13%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Both programs are projected to grow dramatically in coming years due to an aging population.

Trump, who launched his 2024 presidential reelection bid in November, was rebuffed by hard-line conservative House Republicans earlier this month when he urged them to fall in line behind Representative Kevin McCarthy as he sought to lead the chamber.

Trump’s video appeared a day after the U.S. Treasury hit its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit, forcing the agency to use “extraordinary” cash-management measures to pay its bills. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has asked Congress to promptly raise the cap to stave off a default, which she said could come by June 5.

Republicans, with their newly won House majority, want to extract steep spending cuts from Biden and congressional Democrats. They also intend to call on the Treasury to continue making debt and other payments should the government face default without an agreement to raise the borrowing limit.

Republicans aim to have the federal budget balanced within ten years, and some have suggested that Social Security and Medicare reforms be taken into account. The popular programs should be kept running, according to House Republican leaders.

Democrats Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, and Hakeem Jeffries, the leader of the House Democrats, said in a statement that they want to “move quickly” to raise the cap.

Trump urged Republicans to focus funding reductions on programs that deal with foreign aid, immigration, climate change, and LGBTQ rights as well as “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

  • Reuters