In an interview aired Tuesday on “The Regular Joe Show” podcast, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications, that is, to those who had contributed to the system during their working life.
“If you qualify for the right, you get it regardless of the cost,” Johnson said. “And our problem in this country is that over 70% of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on autopilot. It’s never – you just don’t do proper monitoring. You don’t get in there and fix the programs that go broke. It’s just on autopilot.
NEW: On The Regular Joe Show, Senator Ron. Johnson (R-WI) argues for the elimination of entitlements: ‘Social Security and Medicare, if you qualify, you get it no matter what it costs… We need to turn it all into spending discretionary so that everything is assessed.” pic.twitter.com/bE1KUb6uJ5
— Signal Heartland (@HeartlandSignal) August 2, 2022
Johnson suggested that Social Security and Medicare be turned into programs whose budgets are allocated by Congress on an annual basis. He pointed out that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs budgets are approved as discretionary spending.
“What we should do is we should turn everything into discretionary spending so that everything is assessed so that we can fix the problems or fix the programs that are broken, that are going to go broke,” Johnson said. “As long as things are on autopilot, we continue to rack up debt.”
Johnson’s comments prompted White House criticism and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.), who said Democrats would fight any attempt by Republicans to “pull the rug out from under our elders’ feet.”
“The junior senator from Wisconsin wants to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday. “He argued that the benefits that millions of Americans rely on every day should not be guaranteed, but should be the subject of partisan struggles here in Washington. He would like to revoke Medicare and Social Security coverage and make them discretionary. Well, you know what happens when we make things discretionary here? Too often they are cut or even eliminated. We don’t want to do that.
A representative from Johnson’s office pushed back against the idea that Johnson wanted to eliminate Medicare or Social Security.
“The senator’s point was that without the fiscal discipline and oversight typically associated with discretionary spending, Congress has allowed guaranteed benefits for programs such as Social Security and Medicare to be jeopardized,” the door said. — Johnson’s spokesperson, Alexa Henning, in an email.
“This needs to be addressed by Congress taking its responsibility seriously to make sure seniors don’t need to worry about whether the programs they depend on remain solvent,” she added. “As he said, we need a process to save these programs and nobody is doing anything to save them in the long run. We just keep racking up debt, mortgaging our children’s future, and putting those programs at risk.
When asked Wednesday whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would support such a plan, a rep for him pointed to his previous rejection of a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla .) Which would also have upset Social Security. and health insurance. In March, Johnson said he supported “most” of Scott’s plan and called it a “positive thing”.
“If we are lucky enough to have a majority next year, I will be the majority leader. I will decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” McConnell told reporters in March. “Let me tell you what wouldn’t be on our platform: We won’t have on our platform a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and takes away Social Security and Medicare from five years from now.”
Earlier this year, Johnson announced he would seek re-election in November, despite a previous promise to retire after two terms. He is expected to win his primary election next Tuesday.
Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, a candidate for the Democratic Senate nomination, criticized his would-be opponent’s comments on rights programs.
“Ron Johnson threatens to cut Social Security and Medicare”, Barnes tweeted Tuesday. “~surprise surprise~ the selfish multi-millionaire senator is trying to rob working people of the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of hard work.”
According to the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau, Wisconsin ranks 17th in the nation for the percentage of the population age 65 and older.
It wasn’t the first time Johnson had made the news on a proposal that had even other Republicans distancing themselves. In March, Johnson said he wanted to see the GOP repeal the Affordable Care Act if his party won the White House and House and Senate majorities in 2024, something Republicans haven’t done the last. time they had majorities in Washington.