In what quickly turned into an interview that was horrifying to millions of Americans, Donald Trump told CNBC that “entitlement programs” — Social Security and Medicare — would be on the table for potential cuts in the near future, calling them “the easiest of all things” to trim from the budget, because “it’s such a big percentage.”
It would be easy to just chalk up his talk of being “free” to cut such things due to a fabulous economy to his Davos-fueled bravado, like he was simply on a roll and didn’t know when to stop himself, as is usually the case.
But this isn’t the first he’s talked about cutting Social Security recently.
In an apparent effort to maximize the cruelty of Republican policies, Trump and the GOP just announced another massive cut to the social safety net for the poor — right on the heels of slashing food stamps for nearly a million people and right at the end of last year, when they thought people wouldn’t notice.
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A new rule at the Social Security Administration would affect disability reviews at the agency, potentially throwing hundreds of thousands of elderly people and children off their disability payments, according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The move comes as part of a now 3-year-long effort to trim taxpayer expenditures without touching any areas or agencies of importance to conservatives — tax cuts, military spending, etc — which is generally a signal that the people who need help the most are about to get screwed again. Despite producing little to no evidence that cutting social spending actually positively affects the budget or economy, and despite the fact that huge numbers of people must be cut off in order to achieve even nominal savings, Trump and the Republicans are finally realizing their goals of booting as many people from the social safety net as possible — all while bragging about it, as though not getting benefits anymore means they don’t need them.
It’s been difficult to explain to Trump supporters that kicking people off welfare isn’t the same as getting them off welfare. Unfortunately, for at least the elderly who will be affected by the Social Security change, that lesson may have to be learned the hard way.
The mechanics of the complicated rule change are intentionally cloudy, but amount to increasing the frequency with which certain groups of Social Security Disability Insurance recipients must be medically reviewed to renew their claims.
That may seem like a way to increase transparency and fairness, but in reality, the groups affected are not likely to have a change in eligibility any more frequently than reviews are currently conducted — and the process of getting certified for benefits is arduous and time-consuming. The rule change, in effect, serves to compound those issues, clearly with the aim of driving people to give up on trying to collect benefits due to the difficulty involved.
They want to make it hard enough that the needy just stop trying to get help. And now that the group of “the needy” is so many more Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic, these changes will be deadly for some.
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