The president tweeted: “We will not be touching your Social Security or Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget. Only the Democrats will destroy them by destroying our Country’s greatest ever Economy!”
The pledge contrasts with his 2020 budget, which proposes savings worth $1.9 trillion on Medicare (which mostly helps the elderly), Medicaid (which supports poorer people) and other programmes for vulnerable people. The budget also proposes spending $26 billion less on social security.
The president said these savings would come from cutting waste and fraud and from an improving economy that left fewer people needing aid.
However, when the proposed budget cuts were announced in March 2019, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called them “a gut punch to the American middle class”.
There was speculation that the administration wanted the cuts to help fill the gap caused by Mr Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy, as well as a 5 per cent increase in military spending and $8.6 million for his border wall.
In an interview with CNBC in Davos, Switzerland, last month, Mr Trump acknowledged he was still considering cuts to safety net programmes, saying: “At some point they will be.”
He said: “At the right time, we will take a look at that”, adding that “we’re going to look” at cutting Medicare.
In 2016 he had said he would not touch social programmes, providing a stark contrast with his more fiscally conservative rivals for the Republican nomination.
His latest intervention comes with healthcare one of the most important issues in November’s presidential election.
Among the Democrats vying to take Mr Trump on, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are pushing for universal healthcare systems while centrists like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg want less far-reaching reforms.
Last month a doctor was filmed confronting Mike Pence about proposed health cuts when the vice-president made a campaign stop at a diner in Des Moines.
Rob Davidson, who has 20 years of experience in a rural west Michigan ER, told the vice president he was worried about plans to cut Medicare and about the roll-out of cuts to Medicaid.
The vice president looked perplexed and replied that he didn’t know about cuts to Medicaid before saying that when he was governor of Indiana, the state got a waiver from the Obama administration, allowing it to expand Medicaid coverage.