Donald Trump separated himself out from all of the other Republicans in the field by promising not only to save Medicare and Social Security, but not to change them.
Forget the skepticism from our side for a minute. Millions of voters believed him on that. He reiterated it throughout the campaign, and even used the Affordable Care Act as a wedge with Republican voters, just as they did in 2010.
The Washington Post put together this montage of moments where Trump promised his adoring fans he would preserve the social safety net, particularly Medicare and Social Security, because it was so important to all of those people who had paid into for all these years. There wasn't any fudging on what he said. It's all there, in his words, out of his mouth.
If Trump does go along with Congressional Republicans on this, everyone who covered this race will know full well that he will be flagrantly breaking a campaign promise — indeed, he’ll be breaking a core tenet of Trumpism, as many reporters and commentators defined it. Observers widely cited Trump’s supposed refusal to touch entitlements as evidence that he is ideologically different from Republicans such as Ryan.
Trump himself repeatedly drew that distinction, as the video above shows. But if Trump does go along with them, as seems very possible, it’ll show that in reality, he’s perfectly content to let them have their way when it comes to the big ideological questions about the future of social insurance in America.
It should give Democrats much more ammunition to work with here. There should be no talk of compromise; no discussion of tinkering around the edges. Trump told his base he wasn't going to change those programs and it's on him to keep that promise. Since we also know he's a pathological liar, I won't hold my breath. But you can bet we will be reminding him over, and over and over about how he duped his base to get elected while we're fighting for those social insurance programs with everything we've got.