White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow reportedly said the Trump administration doesn’t plan to touch large entitlement programs, but would address deficits by going after Obamacare.
The head of the National Economic Council that advises President Donald Trump said the government plans to add work requirements to smaller entitlement programs, and spurring economic growth, The Washington Examiner reported.
“We have no plans to tackle the large entitlement programs," such as Medicare and Social Security, said Kudlow, speaking to the Examiner at a private dinner for conservatives on Wednesday night hosted by the American Spectator.
“We’ll continue to go after Obamacare. We’re making great gains. Both regulatory reforms and we’ll come back for legislative reforms,” said Kudlow, who served as the Trump campaign's senior economic adviser.
“President Trump is really pushing hard for ‘workfare’ regarding the smaller entitlements – food stamps, whatever welfare’s called now, Social Security disability – there’s a whole bunch of them," said Kudlow, who worked as Reagan’s budget deputy between 1981 and 1985.
"We’re in the midst of this discussion, in fact….The Gingrich/Clinton [welfare] reforms are gone, unraveled by both Republican and Democratic presidents and Congresses and [these programs] are a discouragement to work. And they cost a lot of money,” Kudlow said.
“If you take the small entitlements and you take the non-defense discretionary, that is actually the bigger budget than the large entitlements. This is the work of [White House budget director] Mick Mulvaney...So, the president instructed the cabinet to cut their spending, non-defense discretionary spending, by 5 percent. He was adamant. That’s going to make a gigantic difference as we follow through and we will follow through.”
To be sure, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said just hours before Kudlow spoke that Republicans could try again to repeal Obamacare if they win enough seats in U.S. elections next month, calling a failed 2017 push to repeal the healthcare law a “disappointment.”
In a forecast of 2019 policy goals tempered by uncertainty about who would win the congressional elections, McConnell blamed social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, for the fast-rising national debt, Reuters explained.
On Nov. 6, Americans will vote for candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives. McConnell’s Republicans now hold majority control of both chambers. Democrats will try to wrest control in races for all 435 House seats and one-third of the 100 Senate seats.
Despite their dominance of Congress and the White House, Republicans failed last year to overturn former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare. McConnell called it “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”
He said, “If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks ... We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”
McConnell’s comments drew a sharp reaction from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats, who have sought to portray the Republican healthcare effort as an attack on the middle class.
“If Republicans retain the Senate they will do everything they can to take away families’ health care and raise their costs,” Schumer said in a statement. “Americans should take Senator McConnell at his word.”
Trump favors ending Obamacare, which Republicans criticized as a costly and unneeded intrusion on Americans’ healthcare. About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program, a landmark legislative achievement for Obama and Democrats.
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