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Trump’s inherited entitlement reform crisis needs tackling

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President Donald J. Trump inherited a mess from his predecessors. The leaders of the past implemented a foreign policy of the United States that strayed from an “America First” goal, while bad trade deals were cut with China, Mexico and Canada. With all those inherited problems, the biggest one is an entitlement time bomb that is soon to explode the national debt. Thankfully, President Trump is up for the task of entitlement reform.

{mosads}Entitlements chew up a large percentage of the budget. According to Milton Ezrati in Forbes earlier this year, “Entitlements — Social Security plus Medicaid and Medicare plus unemployment insurance and, for the time being, Obamacare — already absorb 70% of all federal spending.” Congress and the Trump administration don’t have much discretion on how to spend federal cash because most of the spending is on autopilot. If entitlements are not reformed, our federal government will be in danger of default.


The danger signs of crushing debt are making news. The Social Security program is losing money and relying on general funds for the first time in more than 35 years. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that “the Social Security program’s costs will exceed its income this year for the first time since 1982, forcing the program to dip into its nearly $3 trillion trust fund to cover benefits. This is three years sooner than expected a year ago, partly due to lower economic growth projections, according to the latest annual report the trustees of Social Security and Medicare released (June 5). The program’s income comes from tax revenue and interest from its trust fund.” The problems with the Social Security trust fund are merely the tip of the entitlement iceberg when it comes to fiscal problems for the United States.

Medicare and Medicaid are also programs that are expanding at such a rate that they will chew up higher and higher percentages of federal spending every year, if not reformed. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) publication “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2018 to 2028” published on April 9 projected:

“Outlays for the next three years remain near 21 percent of GDP, which is higher than their average of 20.3 percent over the past 50 years. After that, outlays grow more quickly than the economy does, reaching 23.3 percent of GDP (adjusted to exclude shifts in timing) by 2028. That increase reflects significant growth in mandatory spending — mainly because the aging of the population and rising health care costs per beneficiary are projected to increase spending for Social Security and Medicare, among other programs.”

The solution is for a strong leader to push to reform these programs while restructuring them in a way that still provides a safety net to those in need.

The Heritage Foundation makes the case that the federal government should restructure Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security “by changing the incentives that drive their excessive spending.” They suggest:

“Congress should raise Social Security and Medicare retirement ages to account for increased life expectancies and work capacities; transition to a flat, anti-poverty benefit for future beneficiaries so that the programs do not pay the highest benefits to those with the least need; and reduce the payroll tax to allow individuals to save more on their own for retirement and disability.”

In addition, Heritage recommends a Social Security reform that “Congress should improve the efficiency and integrity of the broken SSDI system by incorporating a needs-based component so that individuals are not locked into the system for life.”

On Medicare they recommend “transitioning traditional Medicare into a single plan covering both hospital and physician services, an eligibility age that reflects increased life expectancy and greater work capacity.” They argue that capping Medicaid spending will focus on disabled individuals with complex needs. These are some good ideas, but President Trump will likely move forward with ideas that he feels will protect Americans that have been abandoned by the elites in Washington, D.C.

President Trump will do the right thing and move forward with ideas that make sense for the American people. He has created jobs and will protect those who fall through the economic cracks created by the weak leaders of the past. Reforming, not cutting, these programs is the way to make sure that people relying on entitlements don’t lose coverage because the federal government has run out of cash.

Our national debt is a national crisis and we finally have a president who is not afraid to make decisions that both preserve the integrity of these programs while cutting out waste, fraud and abuse.

Corey R. Lewandowski served as a campaign manager to Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. He is co-author of “Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of his Rise to the Presidency. and senior advisor to the Great America Committee, Vice President Mike Pence’s political action committee. Follow him on Twitter @CLewandowski_.

Tags Donald Trump Economy of the United States Entitlement reform Healthcare reform in the United States Liberalism in the United States mandatory spending Medicare Mike Pence Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson Social programs Social programs in the United States

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