In an interview with NBC’s Today show Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he believes President Trump is on board with entitlement reform for future generations.
“You’ve been talking about this for a very long time,” host Matt Lauer said. “It’s not popular, but you’ve said we’ve got to make tough choices on those entitlements. Can he balance this budget out without touching them?” Lauer asked, referring to the two big entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare.
“We’re not saying we’re going to change benefits for anyone in or near retirement,” Ryan said, adding, “No one has ever proposed that.” “What people like me have been saying is, for those of us in the younger generation, those of us who are X-gen on down, these programs will be bankrupt by the time we get there. We have to reform them for the next generation,” he said.
“But does the President agree with that?” Lauer asked.
“I believe he does,” Ryan answered. He went on to say the situation with Social Security was not as “acute” as the one with health care.
Yesterday I noted that OMB director Mick Mulvaney refused to rule out that some sort of entitlement reform could appear in the president’s final budget due in May. I said at the time that this seemed like a thin reed, but Paul Ryan echoed those ideas today in the early part of his interview. Asked if Trump’s priorities could be paid for with cuts to other programs excluding entitlements, Ryan replied, “Well, we haven’t seen the full budget yet. You just saw a piece of the budget.” So for the second time in two days, there is a hint that the final budget might include some kind of entitlement reform.
Ryan seems to have clarified something NPR’s Mara Liasson asked the White House spokesman about yesterday, i.e. to whom does Trump’s pledge about not changing entitlements apply? According to Ryan, Trump’s promise applies to current retirees and those near retirement but future generations are another matter.