Republican Senator Ron Johnson this week approved a proposal to “coax” seniors out of retirement to address so-called worker shortages, receiving backlash from his Democratic opponent and other critics who have criticized the GOP legislature’s long history of attacks on social security.
“There are some innovative ideas that I would support,” Johnson (R-Wis.) said during a voter tele-town hall on Wednesday, as he is locked in a close reelection race with Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin’s main battlefield. .
“Former Senator Phil Gramm came to the Senate, we talked about our labor shortage, and one of his suggestions was to persuade seniors who could re-enter the workforce — not charge them payroll taxes,” Johnson said in a statement. comments first reported by the Heartland signal. “They won’t pay it anyway, so if they want to go back and make some extra money, let them get to work.”
The Republican senator’s comments came weeks after he sparked outrage by suggesting that Social Security and Medicare funding should be discretionary rather than mandatory, a change that would pave the way for spending cuts or the complete demise of popular programs.
Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor Barnes was quick to respond to Johnson’s latest comments, criticizing his opponent for “waging a war against our seniors and the benefits they’ve worked all their lives for.”
“Ron Johnson’s solution to the labor shortage: Send seniors back to work,” Barnes said in a statement Thursday, noting that Johnson has voted to raise the retirement age from 65 to 70.
Social Security Works, a progressive interest group, too denounced Johnson’s comments on social media.
“This is the same senator who wants to turn Social Security into ‘discretionary spending’,” the group tweeted Thursday. “Ron Johnson believes that working-class Americans don’t deserve to retire. That’s why he’s trying to steal our earned benefits.”
Investigative data released in recent days shows that Barnes has a small lead over Johnson in the US Senate match in Wisconsin, which could play a critical role in determining control of the upper chamber.
“On Sunday, the Trafalgar Group released the results of a poll of voters in Wisconsin conducted between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25. Barnes led Johnson by 49.4% to 47.1%,” Wisconsin Public Radio reported earlier this week. “Just over 3% of those polled were undecided. Barnes’ lead was within the poll’s 2.9% margin of error.”
“A Fox news poll released Aug. 18 had Barnes with 50% of likely voter support and Johnson followed with 46%,” the outlet added. “The Democrat’s lead was just outside the poll’s 3% margin of error. .”