Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security: Trump's Proposed Budget Slashes Entitlements—and Campaign Promises

President Donald Trump has vowed over the course of his presidency not to cut federal spending for entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But his $4.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, unveiled Monday, seeks to do just that.

The White House budget, which is a proposal that congressional appropriators can choose whether to take into consideration when it's offered by the administration each year, would cut billions from the three major safety-net programs over the next decade. It's unclear in what way and by how much the slash in funding to agencies that oversee the programs would affect recipients' benefits.

The proposed decrease in funding comes despite promises, made as recently as the morning of the budget unveiling, to not alter the level of funding for programs that many poor and elderly Americans depend on each year.

Trump 2021 budget slashes campaign promises
Copies of President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2021 budget after they were delivered to the House Budget Committee on February 10. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty

"We're not touching Medicare," Trump told a group of governors gathered for a White House event on Monday. "We're not touching Social Security."

The president made a similar claim in a tweet over the weekend.

"We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget," he wrote. "Only the Democrats will destroy them by destroying our Country's greatest ever Economy!"

We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget. Only the Democrats will destroy them by destroying our Country’s greatest ever Economy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020

Democrats were quick to pounce on Trump's proposed budget, labeling the cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—which over the next 10 years would be roughly half a trillion, $900 billion and $24 billion, respectively—as a nonstarter. The administration outlined areas of fraud and waste that could be rooted out while having a minimal impact on benefits.

The acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, rejected the perception of significant cuts and said the programs will grow with the economy.

"The president's been very clear: There will be no changes to the benefits of Social Security and Medicare, and this budget complies with that promise to the American people," he told Fox News.

The budget has steep cuts to other safety-net programs, such as food assistance for families, and would make budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, foreign aid and a student loan assistance program. It sets a 15-year goal for eliminating the nation's ballooning deficit.

"This is the future President Trump envisions for our nation: one where the federal government relinquishes any responsibility for the well-being of the American people and our nation," Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in a statement. "What the president has put forth is a destructive and irrational budget that intentionally goes after working families and vulnerable Americans."

Republicans praised the rollback in spending and economic growth under Trump, with some citing the low unemployment numbers.

"If you think the deficit is bad now, wait until the economy shrinks and spending grows when Democrats achieve their vision of higher taxes, greater energy costs and forcing people off their private insurance," Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.

"If Democrats are actually concerned about the deficit, they should work with Republicans on realistic approaches to get Washington's spending under control while strengthening our safety net," Brady said.