On the campaign trail, Donald Trump said wholesale changes to Medicare and Social Security would not happen on his watch.
But his top budget official disagrees.
During confirmation hearings for Congressman Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, the subject of Social Security reform came up.
“Would you agree with me that for younger workers, they may have to work longer when they enter the program to save the program?” asked Budget Committee member Sen. Lindsay Graham.
Mulvaney was surprisingly blunt, telling Graham he’s told his children to “prepare for exactly that.”
In fact, Mulvaney warns Social Security could become insolvent in the near future.
“If we do nothing, then by the time I retire, there will be an across the board 22 percent cut to Social Security benefits”, he said.
Mulvaney is 49.
“The alarm bells should be going off right now,” said Michigan Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow.
He was quick to point out there are no plans to reduce or change benefits for current recipients.
But Mulvaney made it clear Social Security won’t be solvent if it continues on its current fiscal path, even if it’s not what Washington wants to hear.
It’s unclear whether Mulvaney’s warnings will translate into any move to curb spending or benefits.
“I have no reason to believe the president has changed his mind,” said Mulvaney said. “My job … is to be completely and brutally honest with him.”
Some senators agreed on Mulvaney’s need to be blunt.
“He has to tell the president exactly what things cost,” said Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cottom. “The president of course sets the agenda, but he deserves a clear-eyed view — not rose-colored glasses.”