The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus revealed Thursday that he faced stronger-than-expected pushback from President Trump about entitlement reform in a recent meeting.
“I probably was optimistic on entitlement reform a few weeks ago than I am now,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said during a panel on Capitol Hill hosted by the Heritage Foundation.
“I brought up entitlement reform with the president a week or so ago and the pushback was a little stronger than I expected,” he said.
Trump campaigned on preventing cuts to Medicare and Social Security, a position contrary to most of his opponents in the 2016 GOP presidential primary and other leaders in his party, like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
On Thursday, Trump released a budget blueprint that doesn’t address entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the administration plans to release a full budget in May that will include Trump’s plans for those programs, along with 10-year projections for taxes and spending.
Conservatives said they’re hopeful that Trump and his team will get “encouragement” to eventually propose entitlement reforms.
“If we don’t do something, we’re not going to save Social Security or Medicaid. So we have to do something long-term. That’s kind of our job,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are doing something, putting some kind of entitlement reforms in place or these will not be solvent,” Walker added.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who’s served in the House since 2005, recalled when Republicans tried to reform Social Security during the Bush administration. The effort was delayed amid fierce opposition from Democrats and divisions among Republicans, and ultimately it never moved forward.
Republicans lost both chambers of Congress a year later.
“We can’t wait to do some of these things,” Gohmert said. “The longer we wait, the dramatic it’s going to be.”