“But Paul Ryan’s budget plans with cuts to Social Security and Medicare are not
that popular with most voters, and what helped elect Donald Trump was the promise not to cut benefits and programs, and that is an unresolved tension.”
None of this should be a real surprise: Mr. Trump repeatedly said during the campaign
that Republican promises to transform Medicare, and slash entitlement spending, were the reason the party lost the White House in 2012, helpfully name-checking Mr. Ryan, who sat at the bottom of the ticket that year, in his analysis.
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s proposal to slash domestic spending in order to preserve the two biggest drains on the federal government — Social Security
and Medicare — has set up a battle to determine who now controls the Republican Party’s ideology.
“President Trump has talked about deeper domestic spending cuts than even House
and Senate Republicans have talked about,” said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and federal budget expert who recently worked for Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.
Mr. Trump’s budget blueprint — which is expected to be central to his address to Congress on Tuesday night — sets up a striking
clash with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, who has made a career out of pressing difficult truths on federal spending.
For years, Mr. Ryan has maintained that to tame the budget deficit without tax increases and prevent draconian cuts to federal programs, Congress must be willing to change, and cut, the programs
that spend the most money — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But Republicans in Congress had hoped that reality, combined with the influence of the two former Republican House members in Mr. Trump’s cabinet — Tom Price, now head of health
and human services, and Mick Mulvaney, his budget director — would have led to new conclusions.