- Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images
- President Trump told a Republican member of Congress that he was willing to go after Social Security at the start of his second term.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan has expressed interest in entitlement reforms as soon as 2018.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump told a Republican member of Congress that he was willing to go after Social Security and other entitlement programs at the beginning of his second term.
The Republican member of Congress spoke with a small group of reporters Thursday about a wide range of subjects on a condition of anonymity. The member said both parties and past administrations were to blame for a lack of effort to reform entitlements, citing a gap in leadership on the issue.
“Until you have an administration willing to actually tackle entitlement reform, the idea that Congress is just going to magically produce it on its own,” the lawmaker said. “Entitlement reform always takes leadership at the presidential level, and it also takes – by the way, real reform takes bipartisanship.”
“Look, I’m not trying to cast blame,” the Republican lawmaker said. “Nobody’s gotten serious about entitlement reform. So if we’re worried about the debt in 10 years, when we get serious about entitlement reform, then I’ll know we’re serious about the debt. Otherwise it’s a talking-point issue back and forth.”
When asked about Trump’s level of seriousness on the issue, the Republican said the president would not touch Social Security “until the first day of his second term, he told me once.”
The Republican also noted the political risks of going after entitlements during a contentious election, as is expected in 2018, while House Speaker Paul Ryan has suggested it could be a primary GOP agenda item.
“I think doing it in an election year is hard,” the Republican member of Congress said. “There’s a reason why Social Security reform happened in 1983, not 1984.”
A White House representative did not respond to a request for comment.