Washington D.C. – A new analysis from government watchdog Accountable.US finds the former Trump administration official reportedly “crafting the House GOP’s debt ceiling playbook” has a nearly 20-year record working on Republican efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare – and a history of dishonesty about how these cuts would hurt America’s seniors and working families. Russ Vought, former Trump Office of Budget and Management Director, has been closely advising congressional Republicans as they have floated a litany of economic ransom demands in exchange for not forcing an artificial and catastrophic default crisis – including deep cuts targeting middle class American workers, veterans, patients, and seniors, while not touching trillions of dollars in wasteful tax breaks for billionaires and big corporations. Vought’s “central” role in the escalating Republican debt brinkmanship shows Social Security and Medicare cuts were never off the table.

To date, House Republican leadership has not bothered to put forward a formal plan to avoid default and instead are reportedly “ throwing everything at the wall” and patching together a “wish list” of right-wing cuts for average Americans with “no chance of passing the Senate” – and with no mention of billion-dollar corporations contributing their fair share in taxes. 

The same former Trump official writing the MAGA Republican playbook for manufacturing a default crisis has been at the center of right-wing schemes to gut Social Security and Medicare benefits going back decades. His deep involvement shows the MAGA majority has no intention of letting the nation pay its bills until seniors and working families have less health and retirement security than before. The MAGA economic agenda takes and takes from the middle class yet keeps or even expands wasteful tax breaks for their wealthy donors and profiteering corporations.”

Liz Zelnick, Accountable.US’ Director of Economic Security and Corporate Power.


  • While Russ Vought has claimed Republicans’ debt ceiling hostage negotiations will not center on cuts to Social Security and Medicare, his time at OMB and the Republican Study Committee — as well as his deep ties to the extreme Freedom Caucus — tell a far different story. Numerous members of the Freedom Caucus are also members of the Republican Study Committee that actively propose gutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age. Other recent Freedom Caucus budget proposals include slashing Medicaid funding by as much as one-third — which would harm many seniors who depend on the program for critical services like long-term nursing home care. The same lawmakers Vought is advising that have shown they are willing to shred one safety net for seniors now make hollow claims they won’t do the same for Social Security and Medicare. 
  • From July 2004 to December 2008, Vought worked in numerous senior roles at the Republican Study Committee as the group called for $200 billion in cuts to Medicare over ten years and pushed President Bush to go more extreme with his Social Security privatization scheme and allow even more of peoples’ otherwise guaranteed benefits to be gambled on the stock market. 
  • During his time at Trump’s OMB, Vought helped oversee numerous budget proposals which would significantly cut Medicare and Social Security over a ten year period. In 2019, Trump’s 2020 budget proposal called for slashing Medicaid by $1.5 trillion, Medicare by $845 billion, and Social Security by $25 billion over ten years. However, Vought claimed Trump was “keeping his commitment” to not cut entitlement programs. Trump’s 2021 budget proposal again called for slashing Medicare by $451 billion. Vought was not honest then about cutting Social Security and Medicare – making his similar claims today highly dubious. 
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