Obama Slams Ron Johnson for Supporting Social Security Reform

Obama Slams Ron Johnson for Supporting Social Security Reform

Former president Barack Obama directly denounced Johnson’s proposal at a campaign appearance.


Throughout the campaign season this year, Democrats have frequently raised Social Security as a political issue and accused Republicans of wanting to cut the program

One talking point frequently used in relation to the issue involves Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who is running for re-election this fall, to move Social Security into the federal government’s discretionary budget, rather than fund it on its own as is currently the case. 


“I’ve been saying for as long as I’ve been here that we should transfer everything, put everything on a budget so we have to consider it if every year. I’ve said that consistently, it’s nothing new,” Johnson said in a radio interview back in August. “I want to save it, I want to fix it. Right now we’re whistling past the graveyard.” 

Now, former president Barack Obama has directly denounced Johnson’s proposal at a campaign appearance. 

“Some of you here are on Social Security,” Obama said while campaigning for Johnson’s opponent, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. “Some of your parents are on Social Security. Some of your grandparents are on Social Security. You know why they have Social Security? Because they worked for it … They worked hard jobs for it. They have chapped hands for it. They had long hours and sore backs and bad knees to get that Social Security.” 

Obama then turned it back on Johnson. 

“And if Ron Johnson does not understand that,” the former president added. “If he understands giving tax breaks for private planes more than he understands making sure that seniors who’ve worked all their lives are able to retire with dignity and respect—he’s not the person who’s thinking about you, and knows you, and sees you, and he should not be your senator from Wisconsin.”

Obama, in the same speech, addressed Republican messaging for the election in general. 

“When gas prices go up, when grocery prices go up, that takes a bite out of people’s paycheck. That hurts,” he said. “But the question you should be asking is: Who’s going to do something about it? Republicans are having a field day running ads talking about it, but what is their actual solution to it?

“I’ll tell you,” he continued. “They want to gut Social Security, then Medicare, and then give some more tax breaks to the wealthy.”

The Hill wrote this week that “the fate of Social Security and Medicare is a midterm issue.” 

“[They would] put us in default unless we yield to their demands to cut Social Security and Medicare. They’re so determined to cut Social Security and Medicare, they’re willing to take down the economy over it,” Biden said in a recent speech about a potential debt ceiling standoff, per The Hill. “There is nothing, nothing that will create more chaos or do more damage to the American economy than that happening if it were to happen.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.