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ICYMI: Ron Johnson’s Threats Against Social Security and Medicare Putting Wisconsin Retirees in Jeopardy

Sep 20, 2022

ICYMI: Ron Johnson’s Threats Against Social Security and Medicare Putting Wisconsin Retirees in Jeopardy

“I count on Social Security to supplement my income and I also have had some hip replacements, so Medicare was very important to me…If I had had to pay out of pocket for those experiences, I would probably be in a wheelchair.”

MADISON, Wis. — A new report details just how dangerous Ron Johnson’s threats to cut Social Security and Medicare are to Seniors, who he’s also said should rejoin the workforce.

UpNorthNews: ‘Completely out of Touch’: Ron Johnson’s Threats to Social Security and Medicare Put Wisconsin Seniors in Jeopardy

Key Points:

  • Judy Gatlin has spent her life working hard and paying into Social Security and Medicare. Like millions of other working-class Wisconsinites, she did so with the promise that those benefits would be there to ensure her sense of security as she got older.

  • But the 62-year-old retiree is worried that her benefits and the promise of security she’s long counted on could be stripped away by her own elected representative, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.

  • Johnson, a Republican, has gone on record saying that he believes Social Security and Medicare should not be guaranteed—as they currently are—and should instead be negotiated by Congress every single year.

  • Speaking on the program, Johnson argued that mandatory programs like Social Security and Medicare should be reformed and fall under “discretionary spending”—which means Congress could cut funding for them or eliminate them altogether.

  • “What’s mandatory are things like Social Security and Medicare. If you qualify for the entitlement you just get it no matter what the cost,” Johnson said. “It’s on automatic pilot.”

  • I earned Social Security. It’s earned. How can you be so arrogant to say that?” Gatlin told UpNorthNews in an interview. “It would reduce my monthly income more than half if I didn’t have my Social Security, and I need money for health insurance.”

  • Gatlin views Johnson—whose net worth has doubled since he entered the Senate and stood at nearly $40 million in 2018—as an out-of-touch mouthpiece for elite billionaires and millionaires instead of an advocate for ordinary Wisconsinites like herself.

  • “Ron Johnson is filthy rich. He gave trillions of dollars of tax cuts to people that are involved in these [pass-through] corporations making millions and millions of dollars. They don’t know what it’s like to stand in the grocery line,” Gatlin said. “I’m angry. It’s like a slap in the face.”

  • More than 1.2 million seniors in Wisconsin rely on Social Security and Medicare to help ensure their well-being as they age and to help them afford the rising cost of living—and in many cases, keep them out of poverty.

  • Milwaukee senior Mary Wacker is one of these seniors, and she also criticized Johnson for his proposal to put the programs at risk.

  • “He has increased his wealth through some of his legislative decisions, which have been very personally self-serving, and he’s now proposing policies that destroy important safety nets for working-class and middle-class Americans,” Wacker said. “He is completely out of touch with how our lives work.”

  • “I count on Social Security to supplement my income and I also have had some hip replacements, so Medicare was very important to me,” Wacker said. “If I had had to pay out of pocket for those experiences, I would probably be in a wheelchair.”

  • “We have paid into Social Security our entire working lives, and to propose that it becomes something that is a political football negotiated every year or two by whoever is the party in power as to funding is terrifying,” Wacker added.

  • Johnson’s opponent in November, Democrat Mandela Barnes, has also hammered him on the issue.

  • “Self-serving, multimillionaire senator Ron Johnson wants to strip working people of the Social Security and Medicare they’ve earned. Wisconsinites pay into Social Security through a lifetime of hard work, and they’re counting on this program and Medicare—but Ron Johnson just doesn’t care,” Barnes said in a statement last month.

  • Barnes vowed to protect Medicare and Social Security during a recent interview with Newswatch 12.

  • “We’re fighting to protect our hard earned benefits, ones that our parents and grandparents spent their entire lives paying into,” Barnes said. “We can do that by making sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share into the system. We cannot allow Social Security to be cut.”

  • Johnson’s comments on the Regular Joe Show are not the first time he’s spoken about changes that could threaten Social Security and Medicare.

  • In the spring, Johnson said that Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s plan to require reauthorization of every federal law—including those governing Medicare and Social Security—every five years was a “positive thing.”

  • Johnson has also previously referred to Social Security as a “ponzi scheme” and recently expressed support for an “innovative” idea to “coax” seniors out of retirement and back into the workforce to fill worker shortages.

  • Johnson tried to pin the blame for the national debt on Democrats for spending too much, even though he himself helped ram through the 2017 tax cut that disproportionately benefited corporations and billionaires and raised the federal deficit by nearly $2 trillion. Notably, that tax cut also profoundly benefited three of Johnson’s donors, who are now spending more than $10 million to reelect him.

  • Both Gatlin and Wacker are looking forward to November, when they plan to fight back against Johnson’s plans by casting their ballots against him.

  • “Social Security is one of the greatest programs that has ever happened,” she said. “We need to work to make it stronger for working people, so people can survive, so people can retire with dignity and have some quality of life.”

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