Read Donald Trump's lips — and know that he's lying. Read Trump's tweets — and know the same.
In speeches, he has vowed not to cut Social Security and Medicare. Just Saturday, he wrote: "We will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget."
Yet that budget, released Monday, includes steep reductions in social safety-net programs, including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security disability programs.
A Wall Street Journal preview of the budget on Sunday stated: "The White House proposes to cut spending by $4.4 trillion over a decade. Of that, it targets $2 trillion in savings from mandatory spending programs, including $130 billion from changes to Medicare prescription-drug pricing, $292 billion from safety-net cuts — such as work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps — and $70 billion from tightening eligibility access to disability benefits."
A story about the budget in Tuesday's Chattanooga Times Free Press by The Associated Press notes that while the planned trims apparently avoid direct "toxic cuts" to Medicare and Social Security, they instead target the behind-the-scenes benefit safety net programs: "Trump's proposal would cut $465 billion from Medicare providers such as hospitals."
Then there's infrastructure. Trump also has said he supported "infrastructure" — things like the completion of our desperately needed new Chickamauga Lock. After all, isn't every other week at the White House "Infrastructure Week?"
Yet while our president hasn't lately, if ever, tweeted about slashing infrastructure funding, his 2021 budget does just that. If Trump's budget wish list flies, after this year work would halt on our lock.
So what are we to believe — what Trump says, or what his $4.8 trillion budget for 2021 says?
Former Vice President Joe Biden said the new budget plan "eviscerates Medicare," and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York said Trump is planning to "rip away health care from millions of American's with cuts to Medicare and the Medicaid health program for the poor.
Mike Toohey, president of the industry group the Waterways Council Inc., said the barge industry is "absolutely astonished" at the "zero infrastructure investment" for the nation's critical inland waterways transportation system.
"This budget, if left to stand, would gut the waterways as a viable transportation option for our nation's family farmers and other shippers of key commodities," Toohey said.
What's more, Trump's 2021 budget cuts funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works operations overall by 22% compared with the current year.
Did we mention that the current Chickamauga Lock is 80 years old and crumbling? And we should also mention that although the Corps has allocated $101.7 million in appropriated funds this year to continue 2020 work on the lock, it already was not expected to be completed until 2024 — if fully funded.
But there's a monstrous defense budget — $750 billion — and a planned $2 billion appropriation to build "the wall" along our border with Mexico.
The AP noted that top Republican budget watchers "generally issued only faint praise if commenting at all. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, called it "just a list of suggestions" and top House Budget Committee Republican Steve Womack of Arkansas "took aim at its rosy predictions of economic growth and lower interest rates, both of which help Trump's budget add up.
Stop the lock, threaten the underpinnings of Medicare and Social Security, but erect a wall in the desert.
That Trump is proposing a budget like this — with cuts to these important programs despite his statements otherwise — shouldn't surprise us. His 2020 budget cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security disability programs as well. It's a long-running game. The president often says he won't touch these so-called entitlement programs, but he continues to use Republican Party officials who make cutting these programs the very center their work. And then he denies it.
Is it just another set of empty promises, or is he so incompetent that he doesn't understand the contradictions? Does he even really know what Medicare is? He's politically savvy enough to know that saying he will cut it is a losing slogan — hence the misleading moniker "entitlements" which to many self-professed conservatives conjures images of "welfare."
Every working American pays for their eventual Medicare and Social Security through specific taxes withheld from their checks. It's not food stamps. This is money plucked from our wallets before we even see it. Then it's held in escrow by the government like a savings account for our retirement.
Yet Trump and his so-called conservative henchmen have the consummate gall to consider stealing it for their own pet projects — like a wall.
If his lips or thumbs are moving, check the facts.