Former President Donald Trump is pressuring Republicans in Congress to steer clear of making cuts to the biggest drivers of the national debt — Medicare and Social Security — in their quest to bring some fiscal sanity to Washington.
Mr. Trump said Washington bureaucrats, not the older Americans benefiting from the entitlement programs, should bear the pain of President Biden’s reckless spending on “left-wing lunacy.”
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security to help pay for Joe Biden’s reckless spending spree,” Mr. Trump said in a video posted on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded.
The message comes at an inopportune time for Republicans on Capitol Hill who have been eyeing changes to entitlements and other programs in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
The U.S. on Thursday hit the debt ceiling set by Congress. The Treasury Department responded by taking “extraordinary measures” to allow the government to keep paying its bills.
Republicans blame Mr. Biden and Democrats for ushering in a new era of big spending that has added $4 trillion to the national debt, which has climbed past $31 trillion and, they argue, worsened inflation.
The national debt also jumped significantly on Mr. Trump’s watch.
Budget analysts for years have warned that any attempt to bring federal deficits and the national debt under control without addressing Social Security and Medicare spending or raising taxes would result in deep cuts to other programs.
Mr. Trump said lawmakers can save taxpayers money by stopping the flow of dollars going to “corrupt foreign countries,” strengthening border security to reduce the costs associated with illegal immigration, and clawing back spending on “climate extremism.”
“Cut waste, fraud and abuse everywhere that we can find it, and there’s plenty of it,” Mr. Trump said. “But do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security, don’t destroy it.”
Mr. Trump said Democrats want to destroy Social Security and said, “we are not going to let them do it.”
Democrats have long warned that Republicans are the ones who want to cut entitlements and privatize the programs.
Democrats last year pounced after Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, floated a proposal to sunset all federal programs, including Social Security and Medicare, after five years. He was leading the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee at the time.
Mr. Trump moved in a different direction in the 2016 presidential race after he split with most of his rivals by swearing off cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
The stance put him at odds with GOP leaders in Washington, including then-House Speaker Paul Ryan and fellow budget hawks who had previously sought to bring more fiscal sanity to the federal government by calling for sweeping reforms to entitlements.
Mr. Trump, however, was accused during his presidency of walking away from that promise when he backed cuts to the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare, and proposed budgets that reduced projected spending on Medicare.