Trump Regime

Did Mick Mulvaney Trick Trump Into Calling for Social Security Cuts?

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

One of the dangers of electing someone who doesn't know anything about anything is the possibility that those who do know something will take advantage of them.

According to a long-form profile of White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney published by Politico, the budget proposal released by the White House earlier this year included Social Security cuts because Mulvaney tricked Trump into approving it.

“Look, this is my idea on how to reform Social Security,” the former South Carolina congressman began.

“No!” the president replied. “I told people we wouldn’t do that. What’s next?”

“Well, here are some Medicare reforms,” Mulvaney said.

“No!” Trump repeated. “I’m not doing that.”

“OK, disability insurance.”

This was a clever twist. Mulvaney was talking about the Social Security Disability Insurance program, which, as its full name indicates, is part of Social Security. But Americans don’t tend to think of it as Social Security, and its 11 million beneficiaries are not the senior citizens who tend to support Trump.

“Tell me about that,” Trump replied.

“It’s welfare,” Mulvaney said.

“OK, we can fix welfare,” Trump declared.

It seems impossible to know how much distance there is between the things Trump says and what he really believes, or if he even really believes anything, but it is certainly plausible that his advisers have taken advantage of him far more than once.

But Trump's stupidity doesn't make him innocent. In fact, this exchange as reported by Politico makes both Mulvaney and Trump look like slimeballs.

Mulvaney knew exactly what he was doing and, for his part, Trump understood that "welfare" is bad because "welfare" has been thoroughly racialized and stigmatized for an entire generation. This being a program for the physically or mentally disabled takes a back seat to the mental image of "welfare queens" living a life of subsidized luxury. A fantasy.

Trump may not know the first thing about Social Security or any other federal program, but we do know he's an incredibly racist person. He still hasn't apologized to the Central Park Five and he never will, but he did just pardon birther posse sheriff Joe Arpaio. Emphasis on "birther" because Trump is their spiritual leader.

  • 1933john

    Actually, one could consider Defense
    as Welfare for the Capitalist Queens.

  • muselet

    The Right has redefined “welfare”—no, sorry, ZOMG! WELFARE!—to mean any program or system that uses one group’s monetary contributions to pay another’s expenses, especially if those people make up more than a tiny fraction of the affected population. It’s not a long stretch from there to calling car insurance ZOMG! WELFARE!; they’re already calling health insurance ZOMG! WELFARE!.

    In fact, this exchange as reported by Politico makes both Mulvaney and Trump look like slimeballs.

    It makes them look like slimeballs?


  • Ellen Kuhlmann

    Recent newspaper articles (think in Wa Post) detailed how many Trump voters are currently on SS Disability. I don’t think decisions should be made on whether those affected vote for you, but if that is Trump’s calculation its a mistaken one. I know several people who’ve been on SS Disability and its not a picnic, very marginal amount of money and you have to juggle things to make ends meet.

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    mental image of “welfare queens” living a life of subsidized luxury. A fantasy.

    Not a total fantasy, sadly.

    I have seen, with mine own eyes, people who do not work and live very comfortably off safety nets even though they are perfectly capable of working.

    I have seen this. Myself. Personally. I, Dread Pirate Mathius, personally vouch that this does happen.

    Growing up, I had friends whose parents didn’t work, but who had large screen tv’s, new computers, and better video games than me (and my father is a lawyer). As an adult, I have tried to hire nannies only to be rebuffed because they wanted to be paid off the books so they could collect welfare. I have personally watched a woman pay for groceries with an EBT card and then buy a bunch of alcohol with cash.

    These things I have seen. So this is not a “fantasy.” At least, not entirely. And to characterize it as such does a disservice to the debate. It makes us seem detached from reality and it obviates common ground where we could agree – such as elimination of abuses like the above.


    That said, it is not nearly as pandemic as the right makes it out to be. And there is always going to be error in something like this – either you wind up giving too much and helping those who don’t deserve, or you give too little and fail to help the truly needy.

    For my part, I would always choose to err on the side of helping too much rather than not helping enough. I think to do otherwise is needlessly cruel and miserly.

    • Username1016

      Not sure I follow you on the alcohol anecdote. You can’t buy alcohol with an EBT card (nor should you!), so of course she used cash. I’m not prepared to helicopter over what people buy with their own money.

      • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

        Question for you: What is the purpose of welfare?

        That is, why do we, as a society, take money from some people and give it to other people under the auspices of welfare and related safety-nets? Why do we do that?

        • Username1016

          No no, Mathius, I asked you first! To be blunt, what’s your point? People getting SNAP benefits shouldn’t drink? Shouldn’t have cash? Shouldn’t ever make discretionary purchases?

          Me, I would never grudge a fellow human a bottle of booze. Life is hard. Alcohol takes the edge off. Bottoms up and cheers!

      • David Greenberg

        When something is not working 100% or is being abused, it needs to be fixed. Throwing out the baby with the bath water is a republican methodology. Of course we now see more clearly than ever- if we didn’t already- the role racism plays in this methodology. I find it fascinating how loudly conservatives scream when this is pointed out to them.

    • JMAshby

      You. “Growing up.” I have no idea how old you are, but you should know that “welfare” as you describe it was decimated in the 80s and 90s and now doesn’t even remotely resemble anything you just described. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program affords just $170 per month in Mississippi and up to $700 for a family of 3 in California. It’s not nothing, but it’s close to nothing in many cases.

      Your personal anecdotes about nannies (and you think “we” are out of touch?) are not representative of the entire country or any federal program and, in any case, what you describe sounds like an actual crime. We have laws against tax evasion. Furthermore, there are strict personal asset limits for families on TANF. If you so much as own a car, you probably won’t qualify.

      What people buy with EBT cards is none of your business. You say you saw someone buy groceries with it. That’s great. That’s what they’re for. You saw someone buy alcohol with cash? So-the-fuck-what? Do you think people who qualify for food stamps are not allowed to have any cash at all that they use to spend on other things? Are you the fucking grocery police? Are you secretly one of those Congressmen who makes up stories about people buying steaks and lobster with their EBT cards?

      There is no “us” here. This is the biggest load of bullshit you’ve ever dumped here, and that’s saying a lot.

      • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

        You seem very hostile. I think I have yet to have a “positive” interaction with you.. ::shrug::

        • JMAshby

          Goddamn right I’m hostile to pious bullshit.