White House Targets Ron Johnson For Threatening Social Security

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It became a point of contention during the State of the Union address that President Joe Biden delivered earlier this week whether Republicans were really threatening Medicare and Social Security with their plans.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) previously unveiled an initiative that would have made apparently the entirety of federal law, at least within the purview of Congress, phase out after five years if not specifically reapproved, a plan that could have pointlessly threatened the continuance of those critical programs. After his plan circulated, he nonetheless received support from ten of the just 49 Republican Senators when the party’s Senate conference was selecting its leader for these next two years. (McConnell won again.) Biden pointed to some of these details in his speech, although conservative sources like Republicans in the chamber and Fox News criticized him as supposedly misrepresenting the relevant positions. The White House shared some evidence this week in the form of comments from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.).

In comments the White House said Johnson made in a radio interview conducted just this week, Johnson pushed the prospect of privatizing Social Security, which could again threaten the program substantially by making its beneficiaries subject to the whims of some private entity. “Republican Senator Ron Johnson, in radio interviews today, said that Social Security was a “legal Ponzi scheme” and that Social Security should have been privatized,” the White House noted Thursday — and this line of rhetorical attack is completely separate from Scott’s nonsense plan, exemplifying the breadth of the policy threat posed by these people.

Ludicrously, Scott characterized the Biden administration and Democrats as having already cut Medicare because of provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that would bring down costs. While Scott’s claims are technically an argument that could be made, his allegations don’t reflect the simply plain meaning of the relevant concepts. Cutting Medicare is used, generally speaking, to describe eliminating benefits. Making costs lower and therefore technically also making the size of certain benefits smaller just isn’t the same thing, and he should know it. The balloting for Senate GOP leader was conducted secretly, unlike the numerous votes held in the race for Speaker of the House, so it’s unclear which of the Senate Republicans were with Scott. Scott claims it’s disingenuous to describe his position as specifically in opposition to Social Security, but his idea amounts in rather direct terms to a threat to the program. That’s what he’s pushing — and kept promoting this week.