Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump opened the door Monday to “cutting” retirement spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, drawing swift pushback from President Joe Biden and elevating a key policy battle in the 2024 election.

Phoning into CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Trump was pressed on how he plans to resolve the long-term solvency problems of Social Security.

“So first of all, there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting,” Trump responded. “And in terms of, also, the theft and the bad management of entitlements — tremendous bad management of entitlements — there’s tremendous amounts of things and numbers of things you can do.”

The former president didn’t get specific about how he’d change the retirement programs, or what kind of cuts he may seek if he’s elected this fall. A Trump campaign spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional details.

Biden’s campaign tweeted out the video and the president responded quickly: “Not on my watch.”

Social Security is projected to be solvent through 2034. Medicare is solvent through 2028. After that, benefits under the programs will face automatic cuts unless policy changes are made to add revenue or reduce spending.

Biden has ruled out benefit cuts to the programs. In his State of the Union speech last week, Biden said he’d “protect and strengthen Social Security and make the wealthy pay their fair share.”

“If anyone here tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop you,” Biden said, presenting the 2024 election as a choice between his plan versus cutting Social Security to “give more tax breaks to the wealthy.”

“As the President just warned in his State of the Union address, Republican officials plan to cut Medicare and Social Security,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said, adding that “today, in his budget, President Biden honors his ironclad commitment by firmly opposing benefit cuts to Medicare and Social Security.”

Opposition to retirement benefit cuts unifies Democrats, many of whom favor expanding Social Security benefits as well as adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare.

Republicans are more divided on how to address the programs, with many House GOP lawmakers supporting a budget that calls for lowering spending by raising the Social Security eligibility age and calling for partial privatization of Medicare. But Trump has sought to position himself in opposition to conservative orthodoxy on retirement spending, without getting specific on what he’d do.

On CNBC, the former president spoke broadly.

“I know that they’re going to end up weakening Social Security because the country is weak. I mean, take a look at outside of the stock market … we’re going through hell. People are going through hell,” Trump said, adding that the middle class has “been treated very, very badly with policy.”

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