Trump may have tipped his hand about cutting the programs way too early — well before the election — in an interview Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, with CNBC reporter Joe Kernen. Asked by Kernan if “entitlements” would “ever be on your plate” to cut, Trump responded: “It’d be toward the end of the year .... and at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things.”
When Kernen pressed him again, asking if he would “do some of the things that you said you wouldn’t do in the past,” Trump repeated: “We’re going to look.”
Trump seemed to indicate to Kernen that the economy was doing so well that Americans no longer required the same level of Social Security or Medicare.
Democrats pounced. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) slammed Trump for “talking about cutting your Social Security” even while his impeachment trial was underway in the Senate.
On Thursday, Trump vowed in a tweet that he will “save” Social Security from the Democrats, who, he insisted without any evidence, want to “destroy” the program.
Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2020
You said you were cutting social security yesterday. Or was that another beet red-faced demagogue?— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 23, 2020
This is another Trump lie pic.twitter.com/GK6s5mBbY5— whamish2.0 (@wisconsinvotes1) January 23, 2020
If Trump is reelected, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has signaled there could be a second round of tax cuts on the heels of the massive reductions that have benefited mostly the wealthy and corporations. That could add pressure to the White House to cut entitlements to make up for the budget losses. Since Trump took office, the deficit has ballooned, hitting $1 trillion last year for the first time since 2012. It has grown nearly four times as fast as it did under Barack Obama, even as Obama grappled with the fallout from the 2008 recession.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.