AP

Congressional Republicans just pushed through a catastrophic tax “reform” bill that adds more than a $1 trillion to the deficit while simultaneously cutting taxes for America’s wealthiest citizens. How does the Grand Old Party plan on paying for this tax cut (that could easily be described as class warfare)? Defund important social programs, of course!

House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed on Wednesday what many of his colleagues have already vocalized: the GOP is coming for Medicare and Medicaid. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said on Ross Kaminsky’s radio show.

“Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements—because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking,” he added, presumably through an uncontrollable smirk.

Donald Trump, who repeatedly promised to preserve Medicare and Medicaid during the campaign, now seems to be warming to the idea of entitlement reform, Ryan gleefully explained. “I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare,” he said. “This has been my big thing for many, many years. I think it’s the biggest entitlement we’ve got to reform.”

Ryan also mentioned targeting welfare—a system he seems to think people are gaming so they don’t have to work. “We have a welfare system that’s trapping people in poverty and effectively paying people not to work,” he told Kaminsky. “We’ve got to work on that.”

Advertisement

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah echoed Ryan’s comments last week during a debate on the tax bill. Welfare, Hatch argued with an all-too-familiar bent, is being exploited. “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything,” Hatch said, referencing the Republican-crafted myth of the welfare queen.

There is one tiny, nearly invisible, silver lining to the Republicans’ entitlement “reform” plan: heading into midterms with a stated goal of gutting social welfare spending does not seems like a good strategy for winning elections. Just a thought.