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Republicans Hope Trump Will Actually Go After Entitlements


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Some members of Congress believe President Donald Trump could tackle entitlements to reduce federal spending, despite his campaign promises to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, believes Trump’s comments on entitlement reform have been misconstrued, and that the president will be an ally in reforming entitlement programs.

“Some people are taking [Trump’s] comments to say he doesn’t want to look at anything on entitlement reform,” Meadows told The Hill. “In my conversations with him, that was not the case. It was more about the benefits that seniors have earned currently.”

Balancing the budget without reducing entitlement spending would be a difficult task. Entitlements make up a full two-thirds of annual spending, and Congress has no control over those expenses without changing the rules of the programs.

The U.S. spent $2.4 trillion on entitlements in fiscal year 2016, compared to $1.4 trillion on discretionary items, which includes everything from buying new weapons to supporting Shakespeare plays re-imagined in the zombie apocalypse. Spending on Social Security alone accounted for $1.6 trillion last year; that’s $400 billion more than the entire discretionary budget.

Discretionary and mandatory spending in FY2016. (Image: Congressional Budget Office/Released)

Discretionary and mandatory spending in FY2016. (Image: Congressional Budget Office/Released)

Reports of other ways Trump plans to reduce the budget by $10.5 trillion over the next decade include reducing grants and spending on climate change projects, eliminating spending on small programs like the National Endowment for the arts, and cutting back entitlement programs. Most of those ideas come from the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Study Committee.

From the beginning of Trump’s campaign, large-scale reforms to programs like Social Security have been off the table. “Have to do it. Get rid of the fraud. Get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it,” Trump said when he announced his candidacy in July 2015.


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