Trump’s Budget Will Take Aim at Non-Retiree Social Safety Net

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The first Trump administration budget proposal will leave Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched, but other major federal programs face deep cuts.

When asked about reductions to the two major retirement programs, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday: “Don’t expect to see that as part of this budget.” The administration, however, will be aiming to push for significant reductions in other unspecified “social safety net programs,” according to a report published the same day by The New York Times.

Full details have not yet been released by the White House. Congressional Republicans aren’t expecting a first budget outline from the Trump administration until March 13.

Welfare benefits that could be targeted include food stamps, housing assistance and the Earned Income Tax Credit. All three are among widely-used programs often decried as wasteful by well-financed right-wing operatives in Washington.

Any move to drastically reduce agencies and programs could see the White House face a revolt from within the federal bureaucracy, before lawmakers have their own say. The Times noted that pushback from agencies “could ease some of the deepest cuts in the initial plan before a final budget request is even sent to Congress.”

During the Presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to refrain from scaling back Social Security and Medicare benefits. The promise put him at odds with much of the Republican Party. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), for example, has long called for Medicare to be privatized, and for its benefits to be doled out in the form of vouchers.

Questions have been raised over whether Trump actually intends to leave Social Security and Medicare untouched, over the course of his presidency. Top White House Budget adviser Mick Mulvaney told Congress in January that he would not shy from advocating cuts to the two programs.

And in his Fox News interview, Mnuchin did not rule out Social Security and Medicare reductions in future years, saying: “We are not touching those now.”