Cuts to entitlement programs including Social Security, Medicare and welfare may be on the chopping block “very soon, very shortly,” according to President Trump, in a sentiment being echoed with increasing frequency by other senior Republicans in the past two weeks.

The cuts to entitlement and welfare programs are necessary not only to pay for tax reform and reduce the deficit, but to rev the economy, GOP leaders argue.

Tax reform is estimated to cost between $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Entitlement programs, which include Social Security, Medicare and food stamps, cost an additional $711 billion in 2016. The overall tab is added to the deficit, which continues to climb.

Last month, President Trump said welfare reform will “take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) floated a  trial balloon of Medicare and Social Security cuts at a Politico Q&A sponsored by the Financial Services Foundation this week. Financial Advisor Magazine reported on Rubio’s comments here.

“We don’t need to reduce benefits on current retirees or even near-term retirees, but we can make changes for future generations such as mine, and do so in a way that people can prepare for, so the changes will barely be felt,” Rubio said.

As much as 23 percent of Social Security benefits and 14 percent of Medicare benefits could disappear by 2034 unless Congress acts, according to the most recent report from trustees. Without a political fix, future retirees could experience a 23 percent reduction in benefits or a 20 percent increase in payroll taxes to fund the shortfalls, the trustee analysis found.

While Rubio has not provided specifics on how he would cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, age and means-related testing that would reduce benefits and/or increase taxes on wealthy individuals (yet to be defined) and push the start of benefits out past age 67, is most likely, tax and policy analysts say.

While some financial advisors have dismissed the notion that a 25 percent mandatory cut in Social Security will affect their wealthy clients—the longevity of most retirement plans would be scalped by a decrease or elimination in guaranteed retirement income such as Social Security.

“What this means for beneficiaries is that in the absence of congressional action, benefits could be delayed or indiscriminately reduced across the board by 25 percent,” said Romina Boccia, a fiscal and economic expert and deputy director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute at the conservative Heritage Foundation. 

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