Republicans admit they’ll slash Medicare, Social Security to pay for their tax cuts

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Slowly but surely, Republicans that supported the trillion dollar Trump tax bill are revealing their true motivations: slashing Medicare and Social Security.

During a Sunday interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) urged entitlement reform as the deficit continues to balloon as a result of the GOP tax cuts.

“I do think we need to deal with some of our spending,” Stivers said. “We’ve got try to figure out how to spend less.”

Stivers, who also serves as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is a self-proclaimed “budget hawk” and frequently criticized national debt levels under the Obama administration. Despite his previous trepidation at increasing the deficit, he voted in favor of a costly tax bill that even the White House admitted would not pay for itself over time.

In his interview with CNBC, Stivers admitted this as well saying, “I don’t think that tax cuts, themselves, can grow the economy for 20 or 30 years.”

But Republican politicians did not go into the tax bill vote blind. There were multiple studies released after the bill was drafted that showed massive tax cuts for the wealthy would only add to the deficit.

The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation released a report the week of the tax bill vote that found the GOP bill would lead to a 1.7 percent increase in gross domestic product over the long term and bring in an extra $600 billion in revenue. Even after factoring in that growth, however, the deficit would still total $448 billion over the next decade.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation specifically shot down the idea that the bill would pay for itself, stating in analysis on December 11 last year that it would increase federal interest costs by $51 billion over ten years and would cost approximately $1 trillion.

Stivers is far from the first Republican to hint at cutting crucial programs to help drive down the national debt, but he is the first to specifically link it to the financial failures of the tax bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said outright last year that Medicare and Medicaid were his next targets for 2018, following the passage of the tax bill.

“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during December appearance on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. “…Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Immediately following the tax bill’s passage in December last year, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) how he could simultaneously vote for a huge tax cut for the rich while advocating cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

“We’ve got entitlement spending that is not sustainable,” Toomey replied. “These big spending programs that are growing faster than the economy. You can’t tax your way out of that problem. You’ve got to make some curbs.”

Sen. John Thune (R-SD)

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told the Washington Post early last December that Congress could consider entitlement reforms as means to cut government spending and reduce the deficit stemming from the tax bill.

“If we’re going to do something about spending and debt, we have to get faster growth in the economy — which I hope tax reform will achieve. But we have also got to take on making our entitlement programs more sustainable,” Thune said. “I think there is support, generally, here for entitlement reform.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)

Cole has admitted in the past he is not a “deep economic thinker,” yet believes Medicare and Social Security, rather than huge handouts for the wealthiest Americans, are what the country should be concerned about.

“If someone wants to get serious about debt, come talk to me about entitlements,” he explained. “Tax cuts produce growth, entitlement spending doesn’t.”

That Republicans have their eye on slashing government programs comes as no surprise, of course. Shortly after Congress passed the tax bill, op-ed columnist Bryce Covert of The New York Times warned of the “Trojan horse” hidden in the legislation that would serve as a setup for steep cuts.

“Republican leaders have wanted to do this for a long time. Mr. Ryan has been salivating over cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for as long as he’s had a political career. Mr. Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, released well ahead of the tax legislation, named welfare reform’ one of its core pillars,” she wrote. “…Now that they’ve succeeded in passing a tax package that will reduce government revenues so much, the ensuing cost will serve as the excuse to get everything else they want.”

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work