The following op-ed from American Bridge President Bradley Beychok is running in today’s print edition of the Scranton Times-Tribune. It comes on the heels of Trump’s latest threat to cut hard-earned benefit programs, like Social Security and Medicare, when asked about the topic just days ago at a Fox News town hall in Scranton, PA. Within 24 hours of Trump’s comment, American Bridge launched a new digital ad spotlighting his out-of-touch plans for Social Security and Medicare to PA voters.
Thursday night, in a town hall in Scranton on Fox News, President Donald Trump said the quiet part out loud for the second time in just months, doubling down on his plan to slash Social Security and Medicare if reelected to a second term.
When pushed by a moderator to explain his stance on the vital programs, President Trump responded “We’ll be cutting.”
This comment follows the president’s CNBC interview from January, where he admitted that, if elected to a second term, he would slash Medicare and Social Security.
So the stakes for Pennsylvania voters couldn’t be more clear: if you want to prevent cuts to Medicare and Social Security, you have to prevent Trump from winning in November.
We know full well that it’s the president’s record on health care and issues like Medicare and Social Security that gives voters the most pause. That reality is further underscored when you look at research conducted specifically on the subset of voters who supported President Obama in 2012 before supporting Donald Trump in 2016, a key, though admittedly not sizable, set of the electorate in Pennsylvania where Democrats must make gains if we want to win in 2020. And now Trump has opened the door to a losing debate for himself.
How much Trump’s admission matters can’t be overstated when you consider that this election will be decided by the margins. In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by the slimmest of margins, just about 44,000 votes, by racking up his margins in majority working class swing counties across the state.
In Luzerne County, for example — a district President Obama won in 2012 —Trump won by about 26,000 votes. Meanwhile, in 2019, more than 74,000 Luzerne residents were enrolled in Medicare, and in 2018 over 79,000 drew Social Security benefits. Do the math and it’s easy to see the fire at our fingertips — a potent electoral rallying cry that will resonate in swing regions where every vote matters.
It’s not hyperbole to suggest that Trump’s revealing answers on entitlements could be remembered as his biggest electoral regret to date. And considering Trump’s feverish attempts to kind-of-sort-of walk back these comments after he makes them — a rarity — it’s likely the White House also understands what they’re stepping in.
Thankfully there is plenty of information to only strengthen our case beyond Trump’s blatant comments to Fox and CNBC — his record on the issue gives him almost no room to breathe. His budget proposals dating back to 2017 all have set their sights on cutting these vital programs, including his most recent proposal that called for more than $1.9 trillion in budget cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and over $25 billion less for Social Security.
When you take those budgets and add in the fact that Trump reportedly once told his fellow Republicans that “the president would not touch Social Security ‘until the first day of his second term’” in office, his public admission makes that much more sense. He finally said the quiet part out loud.
Trump’s desire to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security should serve as a wake up-call for every citizen who relies on these vital programs. No matter what way we vote at the ballot box, Americans of all political stripes have been paying into these benefits their entire adult lives, and they deserve a return on their investment. Making cuts to this program is a political loser and anyone with any experience in electoral politics knows that.
These programs overwhelmingly are supported by the American people and by voters in Pennsylvania. Now that the president has made it his reelection mission to place a target on the back of so many Americans who depend on these programs every day, voters must answer the call on behalf of these programs and the people who rely on them.
With no other way to put it: Trump must be stopped. Read more here.