With the behemoth news story of the impeachment sucking up almost all the TV and radio air, there is very little other news getting out or getting a proper amount of air time. Hopefully, the story out of Davos, Switzerland that the current president thinks tackling entitlement spending (basically Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) would be “easy.”
Speaking with CNBC from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump said tackling entitlement spending is “the easiest of all things” and seemed to suggest higher economic growth would make it simpler to cut spending on those programs. Those comments come amid a heated debate in the Democratic presidential primary over former vice president Joe Biden’s record on Social Security, just days before the Iowa caucuses.
“At the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look,” Trump said. He later added when asked about entitlements: “Well, we’re going — we’re going to look. We also have assets that we’ve never had. I mean, we’ve never had growth like this.”
A White House spokesman said in a statement that the president is not pushing “benefit cuts” but rather that the administration would aim to eliminate things such as “waste” and “fraud” in the programs.
“President Trump is keeping his commitment to the most vulnerable Americans especially those who depend on Medicare and Social Security,” the statement said. “His budgets have proposed more savings to mandatory programs than any President in history, including lowering drug costs, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, and getting people off welfare and back to work.”
While the rhetoric here seems to be very general and focused on ways to eliminate waste etc. you have to remember that in reality republican ideas on any social program almost always ends with the customers of the benefit losing much of the benefit while money that once went to the customers is redirected into the hands of rich business owners through some chicanery. Iowa’s Medicaid privatization is a prime example of how this happens. Overhead has grown from around 3% to well over 15% with that money now going to insurance companies and being taken from patient care.
If Trump and his minions take access to Social Security you can expect that strategy #1 will be to redirect funds into Wall Street investments. By doing that Wall Streeters and corporate big wigs will once again see their stocks balloon as stock prices soar. As they make a killing, you and I, who will be forced to keep our investments in for a long time will get screwed over big time. It has happened before.
Expect Medicare to become some form of “Medicare Advantage” which is simply another insurance plan that will cost like hell as you get older.
Medicaid will become what the Trump administration is already planning on trying out – a block grant program to the state. If the money runs out before the end of the year, so does the Medicaid recipients health care. Here are some of the changes that may be going in to Medicaid not someday but possibly very, very soon:
1. If federal officials approve waivers to change Medicaid funding to block grants, it could be among the administration’s most controversial changes to the 55-year-old Medicaid program, according to the report.
2. Under current regulations, the federal government matches state Medicaid spending. A block grant program would mean a state would instead receive a capped lump sum of federal funding to use.
3. Block grants have already gained support from lawmakers in Tennessee, Alaska and Oklahoma, according to WSJ.
4. Proponents of the block grants argue they will give states more flexibility over how their program is funded, as well as free them from some federal requirements. Opponents argue the limited funds would lead to thousands of people losing Medicaid coverage, and question the legality of waiving federal funding under Medicaid.
5. The possible new guidance comes after CMS withdrew a proposed guidance on Medicaid block grants and per-capita cap programs from the White House Office of Management and Budget website in November 2019.
If a year from now we are living in a world of a re-elected Trump who has been given near-kingly powers by the Senate when the Senate refused to use their power to check the executive branch in the impeachment hearings, then Trump will do all he can to end entitlements with a stroke of his pen. Then it will be up to a court system that is a large majority appointed by Republican presidents to act as a check. I believe this session of the Supreme Court will show they are not willing to act as a check on the president.
The best check against an empowered Trump acting to end Social Security and Medicare is to vote him out of office. Like many I believe the vote against the Trump administration will be overwhelming, but as Josef Stalin was reputed to say “it is not who votes that counts it is who counts the votes that counts.” As we are seeing during the impeachment hearings Republicans are loathe to do anything about election cheating.
Whether it be interference from foreign countries, voter suppression, or the most dangerous of all, electronic voting machines with no paper trail backup that can be easily hacked the Republican Party has either created the situation or stood in the way of fixing it.
Until Republicans somehow are voted out of power the only real thing we can do is to vote and get others out to vote in overwhelming numbers. We have already seen how damaging Trump can be. His administration has run up massive debts with much of that money going to the wealthiest in the form of tax cuts. Meanwhile the poor have seen their food allowances cut to near nothing along with their access to medical care. Just think what a reelected Trump who has not been checked by our system could do.
Taking a wrecking ball to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will only be the beginning. And the “checks and balances” of the constitution will have been rendered incapable of stopping him thanks to Republican Seante actions in the impeachment.