Assessing Claims That Donald Trump Wants to Cut Social Security and Medicare

Donald Trump gestures to the crowd after speaking at a campaign event in Rome, Georgia, on March 9, 2024. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images)

Numerous viral posts on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) have claimed that former President Donald Trump proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare programs. “On the same day that President Biden proposed a budget that makes the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share while lowering costs for working Americans, Donald Trump said that he’d cut Social Security and Medicare,” Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, said on Facebook. “So, on the same day President Biden released his budget—which includes tax breaks for families, lower health care costs, and higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations—Donald Trump just told CNBC he will CUT Social Security and Medicare,” reads another image by Occupy Democrats, quoting a tweet from Victor Shi, a political activist with more than 285,000 followers on Twitter. “Biden and Trump are not the same. Period.”

Trump did speak to CNBC about entitlement reform on March 11, the same day Biden released his budget proposal, but his comments were taken out of context. Trump referred primarily to cutting waste and has routinely claimed that he has no intention of curbing either Medicare or Social Security benefits.

In the interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, host Joe Kernen asked Trump about differences between his and Biden’s approach to entitlement spending. “There are stark policy differences obviously, Mr. President, but one thing that I think that at least the perception is that there’s not a whole lot of difference between what you think we should do with entitlements or non-discretionary spending and what President Biden is proposing,” Kernen said. “Have you changed your, your outlook on how to handle entitlements Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Mr. President?”

“So first of all, there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements in terms of cutting and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements, tremendous bad management of entitlements,” Trump responded. “There’s tremendous amounts of things and numbers of things you can do. So I don’t necessarily agree with the statement.”

President Biden quickly jumped on Trump’s remarks, responding shortly after in a Tweet that Social Security and Medicare cuts would not happen under his leadership.

Trump’s campaign pushed back, explaining that the former president was talking about cutting waste, not entitlements themselves.

Trump himself has previously argued that Biden’s policies—particularly on immigration—would damage entitlement programs. “The Biden border bill would turbocharge the continued invasion of our country, and therefore his plan would totally demolish Social Security, Medicare, medicaid, health care, and all of public education,” Trump said during a rally in Richmond earlier in the month. “Our country is being laughed at all over the world. But I will not let him [Biden] destroy Social Security. I will not let him crash Medicare.” In January 2023, Trump made a similar statement, saying that “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, which is more reckless than anybody’s ever done or had in the history of our country.”

The former president clarified his position further in a March 14 interview with Breitbart. “I will never do anything that will jeopardize or hurt Social Security or Medicare,” he said. “We’ll have to do it elsewhere. But we’re not going to do anything to hurt them.”

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