Mnuchin: Trump's first budget won't touch entitlements

President Trump’s first budget proposal won’t touch Social Security or Medicare, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday.

Mnuchin told Fox News that Trump’s first budget proposal, expected to be released on March 13, won’t include changes to entitlement benefits. He said it will focus instead on tax cuts and regulatory reform to bolster economic growth and pay down the debt, a major Trump campaign promise.

“We are not touching [entitlements] now,” Mnuchin said, “so don't expect to see that as part of this budget.”

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The Trump administration policy on entitlements is unclear. Trump himself promised not to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits during his campaign, and Mnuchin backed that pledge during his confirmation hearing.

Mnuchin did not specify during his confirmation hearing what the Trump administration would consider cutting, and Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney insisted during his confirmation hearing that he’d push for Social Security and Medicare reforms.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump ally and chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, also said Trump would consider reforms that could limit payments for future Social Security and Medicare recipients without touching current benefits.

Social Security and Medicare are the federal government's biggest expenditures, and the trust funds behind entitlement payments are projected to expire in less than two decades.

Trump and his aides have promised to pay down the nearly $20 trillion national debt with ambitious economic growth unlocked by tax and regulatory reform. They insist his platform could boost growth by 4 percent to 6 percent of gross domestic product per year, compared with the 1.6 percent Obama administration average.

Even so, economists across the ideological spectrum doubt the U.S. could achieve those growth levels, given the country’s aging workforce and relative economic size.