Freshly energized from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday and acquittal in the impeachment trial yesterday, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is excited to move on to the next Big Thing he thinks is on the Republican agenda–slashing “entitlement” spending, meaning the Social Security and Medicare benefits millions of Americans and thousands of Lamborn’s own constituents rely on.
As Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, grab that third rail and hang on tight!
“Our economy can always be better, but I see things that show it’s an economy that’s really pretty broadly based,” Lamborn said. “I think, while we need to bring, say, health care costs down, because that’s a big expense for people, and energy costs — we don’t want those to get out of control, and the administration is doing good on that, taking away regulations that increase the cost of energy — I think there’s really some good things for many if not most of the families in this country.”
Lamborn said he’s looking forward to the president’s second term, when Republicans can take on an annual budget deficit forecast to top $1 trillion this year, nearly twice what it was when Trump took office.
“Trump and his people have said that if he gets reelected, he is going to make that his top priority, is getting spending under control,” Lamborn said. “For whatever reasons, we haven’t really talked about the entitlement part of our budget, which is 60% or higher. [Pols emphasis] So to really have meaningful attention paid to the deficit, you have to address mandatory spending, or entitlements.” He added, “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that is true.”
Now of course, in Trump’s SOTU address Tuesday evening, he specifically said the words “we will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security.” Two weeks ago, however, Trump said pretty candidly that “entitlement” cuts were on the horizon after the 2017 tax cut legislation blew a trillion-dollar hole in the budget. And while Trump has always assured his voters that he would never cut these essential programs relied upon by Americans without partisan distinction, his proposed budgets have relied on doing exactly that.
With that said, it is very interesting to see all of this talk about cutting Social Security and Medicare in an election year, which is generally a time when Republicans shy away from talk of “reforming” programs that millions of voters depend on. The direct linkage between such program cuts and tax cuts passed two years ago by the same Republicans overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthiest Americans is objectionable even to many conservative voters–who once believed that Trump would fight for the middle class against the corporate predators at the top and the “moochers” at the bottom of society. As it turns out, both the middle and the lower class are getting the short end of the deal.
Though perhaps not in Doug Lamborn’s safe conservative stomping ground, “hell yes we’re cutting Social Security” is a message that could prove very costly to many Republicans on the 2020 ballot with Trump in competitive races. For Republicans there’s a time to spring this long-desired agenda item on the voting public, and that is not right before they vote.
Rep. Lamborn doesn’t get these subtleties. He says the quiet part out loud every time.