- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday said that repealing and replacing Obamacare is a form of “entitlement reform,” and that President Trump does understand long-term changes are necessary to programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“We’ve never proposed — and this is what I think the president’s talking about — we’ve never proposed to change benefits for current seniors and people who are about to retire,” Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said on NBC’s “Today” program.

“So within what we call the 10-year budget window … we’re not saying we’re going to change benefits for anybody in or near retirement. No one has ever proposed that,” he said.

“What people like me have been saying — for those of us in the younger generation … these programs will be bankrupt by the time we get there. We have to reform them for the next generation,” he said.

Mr. Ryan said he does believe Mr. Trump agrees with that.

“On Social Security, that problem is not as acute as our health care problem,” he said. “Replacing Obamacare is entitlement reform, and that helps us with health care.”

“But I think the point he’s trying to make with the first piece of his budget, much to follow, is our military has been hollowed out,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint includes a requested increase of $54 billion for defense spending.

The president has also pledged to protect entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“If the economy sails, then I’m right” on entitlements, Mr. Trump said in an interview that aired Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.”

“Because I said I’m not touching Social Security,” he said. “I think our country’s going to sail.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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