Maybe it’s because of all the billionaire oligarchs that are surrounding him as he attends the World Economic Forum at Davos this week.
Or perhaps Donald Trump has swallowed so much of his own anti-socialist Kool-Aid — as he attacks Democrats for their beliefs that affordable health care and a potential for a living income is a human right rather than a privilege granted by the largesse of the already wealthy — that he feels comfortable reaching out and grabbing the traditional third rail of American politics, the sanctity of Social Security and Medicare.
Trump’s traditional Republican attitude towards these programs as expandable entitlements that can be slashed in a destructive whim — despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans have been funding these social service programs through payroll deductions their entire lives — seems like a foolish topic to remind American citizens about in a presidential election year, particularly since the senior citizens who rely on these programs to live out their old ages in dignity rather than abject poverty are typically the most reliable of voters out of all the demographics.
Yet there Trump was at Davos during an interview with CNBC‘s Joe Kernen, answering what seemed to be a throwaway final question from the journalist regarding whether he would ever be addressing the entitlement issue.
His answer should be chilling to anyone who relies on either of the individually-funded government programs — both outside the scope of the normal discretionary congressional appropriations process — and provide Democrats with a potent message to hammer home in the current election cycle in order to defeat Trump and the rest of his heartless Republican minions.
“At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth. This next year I—it’ll be toward the end of the year. The growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look, cause it’s such a big percentage,” Trump cluelessly explained from his lofty perch of affluence.
Given that most Americans’ attention is focused on the false drama of Trump’s GOP-rigged impeachment trial, Trump’s casual mention that he’ll be looking at cutting Social Security, Medicare, and other government entitlement programs after the election may fall through the cracks of the typical voter’s notice.
It did not escape the notice of Richard Fiesta, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, however. After hearing Trump’s comments, he had this to say:
“After a day of hobnobbing with billionaires in Davos, President Trump publicly revealed that cuts to earned Medicare and Social Security benefits will be on the table as soon as the end of this year. The cruel irony of this scene cannot be overstated.”
If the Democrats can’t or don’t exploit this clear admission of intent to cut back on the benefits that Americans have already paid for and rely on for their continued existence, they are missing the biggest vulnerability that Trump has offered them up on a gold-plated platter.
Like the use of GOP efforts to kill Obamacare and the insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions as a cudgel to wrest a hard-fought victory in the 2018 midterms, the attempts to strip away precious social services from senior citizens and the disabled should put the GOP in a defensive battle that they’ll surely find difficult to overcome.
You can sample the bitter taste of Trump’s dastardly plans in the video excerpt included below.
Original reporting by John Queally at Common Dreams.