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Social Security: If Elected in 2024, Trump Promises To Keep Program Intact — Did He Deliver During Previous Term?

Bryon Houlgrave/Shutterstock / Bryon Houlgrave/Shutterstock
Bryon Houlgrave/Shutterstock / Bryon Houlgrave/Shutterstock

Former President Donald Trump has differentiated himself from other 2024 Republican presidential candidates by claiming he has no plans to touch Social Security. Last year Trump said that “under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.” He backed that claim up a month ago, saying that “you don’t have to touch Social Security,” Newsweek reported.

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In contrast, other GOP candidates such as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have proposed Social Security reforms such as raising the full retirement age for younger Americans or cutting benefits across the board.

Trump’s insistence that he won’t touch Social Security takes away a major talking point for Democrats, who have positioned themselves as defenders of Social Security and Republicans as dismantlers of the program. But some observers suggest that Trump’s rhetoric about Social Security doesn’t match his record as president.

A recent column in Arizona’s Northeast Valley News claimed that as president, Trump’s budget proposals “included cuts to Medicare and Social Security” — even after he promised during the 2016 presidential campaign that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

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The Northeast Valley News column cited a 2019 Vox article that analyzed Trump’s 2020 budget. At the time, Vox wrote that over the next 10 years, Trump’s budget proposal “aims to spend” $1.5 trillion less on Medicaid, $25 billion less on Social Security and $845 billion less on Medicare, with the intention of cutting Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

Vox also noted that Trump’s proposal would cut roughly $10 billion from the Social Security Disability Insurance program, which the White House said could be found through “cutting down on fraud.”

Of course, Trump’s longer-term plans for Social Security became a moot point when he lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden. It’s hard to say how Trump might deal with Social Security should he be re-elected in 2024. From a purely political standpoint, his promises not to touch the program make sense. Proposing cuts to Social Security benefits is an intensely unpopular position with retirees — and they have a lot of influence in elections. Even younger Americans tend to oppose Social Security cuts.

Even so, the agency has faced funding shortages for well more than a decade. As previously reported by GOBankingRates, since 2010 the agency’s customer service budget has fallen by 17% after inflation. For fiscal year 2023, the SSA’s operating budget was $14.1 billion — up from $13.34 billion the previous year, but less than the $14.8 billion Biden requested.

Last summer, a group representing Social Security Administration employees issued a warning that the agency’s “staffing and funding crisis” could lead to “more Americans being denied the benefits they deserve.”

Whether Trump (or other candidates) would continue to slash the SSA’s budget is uncertain. What is known is that Republicans as a whole have been more likely than Democrats to target Social Security for cuts to reduce federal spending.

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This article originally appeared on Social Security: If Elected in 2024, Trump Promises To Keep Program Intact — Did He Deliver During Previous Term?