In Phoenix, DNC chairman Tom Perez stresses Trump's 'broken promises'

DNC Chairman Tom Perez spoke about Trump’s recent proposed budget cuts that would slash funding for Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security programs during a roundtable discussion on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020.

Seeking to repeat 2018's ballot-box success for Democrats in Arizona and across the country, the national party’s chairman spent Monday in Phoenix emphasizing what he called President Donald Trump’s "broken promises" in his proposed budget, especially on health care.

Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chairman, hammered Trump’s priorities, saying Trump had broken campaign pledges not to hurt Social Security and Medicare while preserving tax cuts for the wealthy. 

"He promised to make prescription drugs cheaper, and that hasn't happened because he refuses to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry," Perez said. "He repeatedly promised he would not cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. You look at the budget in 2021, the proposed budget that they submitted last week does exactly that.

"Budgets, in my judgment, are moral documents. They reflect the values of a community and, frankly, a nation. This budget proposal from this president is morally bankrupt."

Perez's appearance comes days after the DNC announced that a presidential primary debate would take place in Phoenix, another sign of the party's confidence in the state's emerging purple status. 

Trump's latest budget proposal, unlikely to pass a Democrat-controlled House, would reduce spending in Medicare by $480 billion over a decade. Medicaid would get $920 billion less over the same 10 years as the administration seeks to reduce future deficits.

The Medicare savings would come chiefly in payment cuts to doctors and hospitals. Medicaid would cut its spending in part by having states implement work requirements and more-stringent eligibility screening.

His budget proposal last year also sought nearly $2 trillion in proposed cost savings in programs including Medicare and Medicaid and would have cut $26 billion from Social Security spending, much of it in the program that provides aid to the nation's disabled.   

In a January interview with CNBC, Trump signaled a willingness to take a new budgetary approach to entitlement programs.

"At the right time, we will take a look at that," he said. 

To emphasize the Democrats' concerns with the Trump budget, two Valley residents talked to Perez at a roundtable at Carpenters Local Union 1912 in west Phoenix about their own health care struggles. Democratic state lawmakers Rep. Raquel Terán of Phoenix and Rep. Kelli Butler of Paradise Valley joined the discussion and echoed Perez's criticisms. 

Gilbert resident Steve Gomez said his 4-year-old son has already received a heart transplant and health care services totaling more than $3 million.

Gomez worries that if the Affordable Care Act is struck down, the nation will revert to the system that allowed insurance companies to cap lifetime medical expenditures. 

Trump supports the effort that includes Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to remove the ACA's individual mandate, which critics say could unravel the law.

"There's no reason, as Chairman Perez says, to have to choose between his anti-rejection med and eating," Gomez said. "I can only imagine that his next transplant — because that is a very realistic future — would not be covered." 

Ashley Bridwell, a brain cancer survivor, received Social Security disability assistance as she obtained a pair of college degrees and now works in the health care system.

"I am the individual who sits on the other end of the desk and has to explain how these programs work and how they don't work to not only seniors, but also people with disabilities," she said. "I'm the person that sits in front of another human being and says, 'That's not covered' or 'You've exhausted your benefits.'"  

"I had the safety net, and as a result, I'm a productive woman with a disability working full-time managing my own life." 

National Republicans were quick to hit back at Perez.

“It’s rich Democrats are whining and complaining about President Trump’s budget proposal when (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team are refusing to propose a budget for the second year in a row," said Torunn Sinclair, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Arizona Republican Party didn't address Trump budget proposals, but did note the state and nation are in the midst of historic economic growth.

"As Arizonans enjoy the benefits of a thriving economy and a booming job market, it's no surprise that the Grand Canyon State has become the No. 1 inbound state in the nation for new residents," Kelli Ward, the state GOP chairwoman, said in a written statement. "Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Doug Ducey, President Donald Trump, and Arizona's Republican lawmakers, people from all over are flocking to Arizona for higher-paying jobs, better opportunities, and new chances to invest in our people and our state. Because of our incredible success, Arizona has also become a top target for dark money Democrats. Ultra-liberal groups and Democrat-aligned super (political-action committees) are descending upon Arizona in droves to promote their radical, failed left-wing policies — as they have already done in California and New York."

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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