Back when there were still a whole lot of people running for the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump was the only one who did not want to cut Social Security benefits.
His opponents had the usual variety of methods to reduce the benefit they always erroneously call an “entitlement” (along with Medicare) as though it is not an earned benefit we all pay for throughout our working years.
Raise the retirement age, say some. Others want a “means test” that would remake Social Security into a welfare program instead of the insurance benefit it is. Still others want to reduce the cost-of-living adjustment or go the George W. Bush route and let people invest those monies in stock market.
Donald Trump was different. In December 2015, he said,
“'We’re not gonna cut your Social Security and we’re not cutting your Medicare,' he said," according to a story in Huffington Post.
“Trump has insisted that economic growth and cutting waste, fraud and abuse in the system would solve entitlement spending issues.”
You may recall that eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” is pretty much Trump's solution to everything except building that wall he says Mexico will pay for. As the HuffPo writer, Matt Fuller, reminded readers,
”He neglects to mention that the incidence of incorrect overpayments is typically under 1 percent, according to the Social Security Administration’s estimates. (Combined administrative costs for both the retirement and disability programs are also under 1 percent.)”
You don't find those kinds of administrative numbers in the private sector.
That was in December. In an April 2016 debate, Trump reaffirmed his support of Social Security:
"'Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.' reported Alternet. “He made clear, I'm not gonna do that!'"
Since political coverage by the news media has become all Trump, all the time, you may have noticed that the now presumptive Republican candidate frequently changes his positions, denies he ever said things he did say and contradicts himself, often several times within a day and even an hour.
That flexibility showed up a couple of weeks ago when Modern Healthcare reported:
”On Wednesday, Sam Clovis, Trump's chief policy adviser, signaled to a Washington group that strongly favors a major overhaul of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Trump is open to their agenda.
“'After the (Trump) administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare,' Clovis said, according to the Wall Street Journal (firewall). “That statement came just before Trump met with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday to try to make peace with the top Republican policymaker...”
(Speaker Ryan is long on the record with proposals to cut Social Security.)
Last week, Social Security expert Nancy Altman who is co-author of the 2015 book, Social Security Works!, followed up on those comments from Sam Clovis in a Huffington Post story:
”To those who have carefully studied Trump’s record on Social Security, this seemingly abrupt turnaround does not come as a huge surprise.
“Back in 2000, Trump wrote a book in which he referred to Social Security as a 'Ponzi scheme', proposed increasing the retirement age to 70, and claimed, 'Privatization would be good for all of us.'
“As recently as 2011, he said he was on board with plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — but that Republicans should be very careful 'not to fall into the Democratic trap' by doing it without bipartisan support, or they would pay the price politically.
“Trump’s position on Social Security appears to be whatever he feels is most beneficial to Donald Trump at any given time.”
It seems pretty certain to me that it will not be long before Donald Trump announces his explicit support for the Republican position of cutting Social Security along with Medicare and Medicaid.
They never stop. These people will never, ever stop trying to impoverish elders. Remember, even when they say their cuts will not harm current retirees, they are nonetheless perfectly willing to do that to your children and grandchildren.