Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attempted to cover for President Donald Trump by claiming that his budget does not cut Social Security, only to admit that it does by employing what critics refer to as “Washington-speak.”
Earlier this week, Trump released a draconian budget proposal that cuts over $1 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security combined, thereby breaking a central promise to his own supporters in 2016 when he promised not to cut these vital programs.
Despite the math, Trump insisted on Monday that he is “not touching” Medicare and Social Security.
President Trump: “We’re not touching Medicare. We want to keep Medicare. We’re not touching Social Security.” pic.twitter.com/18kRJ5Z81s
— The Hill (@thehill) February 10, 2020
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, however, Senate Democrats were able to force Mnuchin to admit that the budget does, indeed, cut Social Security.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) pressed Mnuchin to answer her direct question after he tried to evade it.
“I believe it’s not a cut, it’s a reduction in the rate of increase,” he said. “And it’s not to the benefits of people on Social Security.”
“If that is not a cut, then I would love to talk to you about what it is this administration values and what they see, how these groups and important individuals in our communities are being affected,” Cortez Masto replied. “My concern is this administration says one thing, but their actions are just the opposite.”
The Trump admin claims there are no cuts to Social Security in the budget. So why wouldn’t Sec Mnuchin answer a simple yes or no question about whether there are billions in cuts to Social Security, hurting seniors?
Answer: because there are cuts to Social Security in the budget pic.twitter.com/hS503RrSe0
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) February 12, 2020
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) immediately called out Mnuchin on Twitter by pointing out that what he said amounts to an admission in “Washington-speak.”
🚨🚨🚨Breaking: Mnuchin admits Trump’s budget cuts your earned benefits in Social Security. “Slowing the rate of increase” is Washington-speak for cutting benefits and breaking the Social Security and Medicare guarantee. pic.twitter.com/UUDKL8jab3
— Senate Finance Cmte (@SenateFinance) February 12, 2020
Social Security Works executive director Alex Lawson backed up Wyden’s response.
“When Steve Mnuchin or any other politician says that a ‘reduction in the rate of increase’ is different than a benefit cut, they are shamelessly lying,” Lawson told Common Dreams. “If Social Security benefits were to stay flat every year, they would quickly begin losing value due to inflation. We need to make annual cost-of-living adjustments more generous, not less.”
Basically, Mnuchin admitted that Trump’s budget cuts rate increases that are necessary to keep up with inflation, thereby reducing the value of Social Security benefits. That’s a cut.
“Social Security’s total spending also increases yearly due to growth in the population of beneficiaries, something that the program’s actuaries have known about and planned for decades in advance,” Lawson noted. “Any ‘reduction in the rate of increase’ would lead to benefit cuts.”
Millions of Americans rely on Social Security and are entitled to it because they worked hard to earn it. Social Security is the reason why senior citizens were not as hard hit by the 2008 recession. Cutting it only makes this group more vulnerable when the next recession arrives, which may not be too long from now considering all the damage Trump is doing to the economy because of his tax cuts and trade wars.
These cuts also come on top of an effort by Senate Republicans that threatens the pension plans of millions of American workers and retirees.
So, far from caring about the financial well-being of the American people, Trump and the GOP are about to hit them with a devastating double whammy.
Featured image via screen capture
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