Reince Priebus: Donald Trump doesn't want to "meddle" with Medicare, Social Security

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who’s set to become President-elect Donald Trump’s chief of staff, said Sunday that Mr. Trump intends to preserve Medicare and Social Security -- despite the fact that this puts him at odds with much of the Republican Party.

“I don’t think President-elect Trump wants to meddle with Medicare or Social Security,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “He made a promise during the campaign that that was something he didn’t want to do. But what he wants to do is grow the economy, help shore up Medicare and Social Security for future generations.”

Mr. Trump said frequently during the 2016 campaign that he didn’t plan to touch entitlement spending, including Medicare and Social Security. However, congressional Republicans -- including House Speaker Paul Ryan -- have long favored restructuring both programs.

And as Republicans strategize about how best to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare), Priebus said it would be “ideal” to repeal the law and implement an alternative all at once -- but indicated that might not be possible.

“It would be ideal if we could do it all in one big action,” he said. “But look, it may take time to get all the elements of the ‘replace’ in place.”

He said some aspects of the repeal can be done through reconciliation, which requires just 50 votes in the Senate -- but that others will need a 60-vote majority to be implemented, which could be tougher to do as an “instantaneous action.”

“I mean, if you can get 60 votes within a few weeks and get all those elements of [Sen.] Rand Paul’s votes into place that would be great,” he said. “But I think we all understand that things sometimes do take some time and the full repeal and replace may take a little bit more time.”

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    Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.