Sen. Johnson suggests ending Medicare, Social Security as mandatory spending programs

cigaretteman

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May 29, 2001
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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending.

Those who work in the United States pay Social Security and Medicare taxes that go into federal trust funds. Upon retirement, based on a person’s lifetime earnings and other factors, a retiree is eligible to receive monthly Social Security payments. Similarly, Medicare is the federal health insurance program that kicks in for people 65 and older, or for others who have disabilities.

In an interview that aired Tuesday on “The Regular Joe Show” podcast, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that the Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications — that is, to those who had been paying into the system over their working life.






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“If you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost,” Johnson said. “And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on automatic pilot. It never — you just don’t do proper oversight. You don’t get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt. It’s just on automatic pilot.”

Johnson suggested that Social Security and Medicare be transformed into programs whose budgets are appropriated by Congress on an annual basis. He pointed out that budgets for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are approved as discretionary spending.
“What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so it’s all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt,” Johnson said. “As long as things are on automatic pilot, we just continue to pile up debt.”







Johnson’s comments prompted criticism from the White House.
“While @POTUS and congressional Democrats fight for the Inflation Reduction Act, which would let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, congressional Republicans like @SenRonJohnson want to put Medicare on the chopping block,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted Tuesday. “That would devastate families.”
A representative for Johnson’s office did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions sent by email, including a request for more specifics on Johnson would restructure Medicare and Social Security and whether he would propose changing how people qualify for them.
Asked Wednesday whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would support such a plan, a representative for the Kentucky senator pointed to his previous rejection of a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that would have similarly upended Social Security and Medicare. In March, Johnson said he supported “most” of Scott’s plan and called it “a positive thing.”



“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” McConnell told reporters in March. “Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda: We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”
Earlier this year, Johnson announced that he would seek reelection in November, despite a previous pledge to retire after two terms. He is widely expected to win his primary election next Tuesday.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Senate, criticized his would-be opponent’s remarks on entitlement programs.

“Ron Johnson is threatening to cut Social Security and Medicare,” Barnes tweeted Tuesday. “~surprise surprise~ the self-serving, multimillionaire Senator is trying to strip working people of the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of hard work.”
This was not the first time Johnson has made news for a proposal that prompted even other Republicans to distance themselves. In March, Johnson said he wanted to see the GOP repeal the Affordable Care Act if his party won the White House and the House and Senate majorities in 2024, something Republicans failed to do the last time they had majorities in Washington.

 
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goldmom

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I’ll need to spend time reading SEVERAL sources on this. WaPo serving as house organ for the DNC doesn’t inspire faith in my getting all the facts from all angles.
FTR I’ve always favored raising the retirement age and lifting the ceiling on SSI taxable earnings.
 
Feb 9, 2013
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I’ll need to spend time reading SEVERAL sources on this. WaPo serving as house organ for the DNC doesn’t inspire faith in my getting all the facts from all angles.
FTR I’ve always favored raising the retirement age and lifting the ceiling on SSI taxable earnings.
Yeah, I think there are tweaks that can be made to protect these programs but ensure they remain solvent.

What Johnson seems to be suggesting sounds like it will turn these programs into a yearly battle/stalemate in an increasingly worthless Congress.
 

Bank of Hawk

HR Heisman
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Feb 24, 2007
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Obviously we can’t have these programs going bankrupt.

The next 10-20 years as baby boomers accelerate their use of these programs, retire, with not enough workers to replace them, that is the real problem I see with SS and Medicare.

But what should be done about it is the question? Something has to be done about it.

I’m not in favor of raising FICA taxes for the general public, but removing cap on wages could be playable, I’d also be in favor of some sort of means testing to scale back benefits for the top 5% or so, of net worth SS and Medicare eligible folks.
 

onlyTheObvious

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Obviously we can’t have these programs going bankrupt.

The next 10-20 years as baby boomers accelerate their use of these programs, retire, with not enough workers to replace them, that is the real problem I see with SS and Medicare.

But what should be done about it is the question? Something has to be done about it.

I’m not in favor of raising FICA taxes for the general public, but removing cap on wages could be playable, I’d also be in favor of some sort of means testing to scale back benefits for the top 5% or so, of net worth SS and Medicare eligible folks.
Remove cap on wages but don’t increase the Benefits to those affected is the easy answer. Eventually it will be done.
 

Joes Place

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Aug 28, 2003
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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending.

Those who work in the United States pay Social Security and Medicare taxes that go into federal trust funds. Upon retirement, based on a person’s lifetime earnings and other factors, a retiree is eligible to receive monthly Social Security payments. Similarly, Medicare is the federal health insurance program that kicks in for people 65 and older, or for others who have disabilities.

In an interview that aired Tuesday on “The Regular Joe Show” podcast, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that the Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications — that is, to those who had been paying into the system over their working life.






ADVERTISING


“If you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost,” Johnson said. “And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on automatic pilot. It never — you just don’t do proper oversight. You don’t get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt. It’s just on automatic pilot.”

Johnson suggested that Social Security and Medicare be transformed into programs whose budgets are appropriated by Congress on an annual basis. He pointed out that budgets for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are approved as discretionary spending.
“What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so it’s all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt,” Johnson said. “As long as things are on automatic pilot, we just continue to pile up debt.”







Johnson’s comments prompted criticism from the White House.
“While @POTUS and congressional Democrats fight for the Inflation Reduction Act, which would let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, congressional Republicans like @SenRonJohnson want to put Medicare on the chopping block,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted Tuesday. “That would devastate families.”
A representative for Johnson’s office did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions sent by email, including a request for more specifics on Johnson would restructure Medicare and Social Security and whether he would propose changing how people qualify for them.
Asked Wednesday whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would support such a plan, a representative for the Kentucky senator pointed to his previous rejection of a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that would have similarly upended Social Security and Medicare. In March, Johnson said he supported “most” of Scott’s plan and called it “a positive thing.”



“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” McConnell told reporters in March. “Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda: We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”
Earlier this year, Johnson announced that he would seek reelection in November, despite a previous pledge to retire after two terms. He is widely expected to win his primary election next Tuesday.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Senate, criticized his would-be opponent’s remarks on entitlement programs.

“Ron Johnson is threatening to cut Social Security and Medicare,” Barnes tweeted Tuesday. “~surprise surprise~ the self-serving, multimillionaire Senator is trying to strip working people of the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of hard work.”
This was not the first time Johnson has made news for a proposal that prompted even other Republicans to distance themselves. In March, Johnson said he wanted to see the GOP repeal the Affordable Care Act if his party won the White House and the House and Senate majorities in 2024, something Republicans failed to do the last time they had majorities in Washington.


UNPOSSIBLE

@Whiskeydeltadeltatango informed us that Republicans/conservatives "don't want to change things"
 

Joes Place

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Capital gains are not, nor have they ever been, subject to SS/Medicare tax.
If those are your sole source of income, they should be.

If you have regular income that is at least at a certain level, they should not be.
So, SS/Medicare tax cap gains if your cap gains exceed your regularly taxed income. That will balance out so the rich to don't draw "salaries" are paying their fair shares.
 

SeaPA

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Dec 17, 2002
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There are a few things that, IMO, should be considered:
* As others have mentioned, either eliminate or raise the maximum amount subject to SS tax. I'd also be fine with capping the amount on which future benefits are calculated at a number lower than the cap on which it's taxed.

* Possibly raise the "full retirement age" by a couple of years

* Increase the penalty for beginning to draw "early"

* Change the "spousal benefit" rule; it's ridiculous, IMO, that a spouse can draw 50% of the benefit of his/her still-living spouse. If the higher-earning spouse dies, I can see bumping up the survivor's benefit some, but the potential payouts under the existing rules are crazy.

Those three things would be a good start.
 
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soybean

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Sep 30, 2001
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Income gap is obvious and in my view inevitable. Raise the retirement age.

The Boomers are not retiring at 65 anymore...we’re living longer...
I'm 72 and many of my friends around the same age have "unretired" after sitting around for a few years doing nothing. A friend of mine who is 72 also told me just last weekend that when the course closed this fall she was going to get a job again. She said "even I can't play that much golf".
 

Slappy Pappy

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Nov 24, 2007
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Capital gains are not, nor have they ever been, subject to SS/Medicare tax.
That's why they should be eliminated. Income is income. Why is Joe the Plumber taxed at a higher rate going out and getting his hands dirty every day, than Jared Kushner is for making a few phone calls and checking the markets? Capital gains was a good idea back when you wanted to encourage people to invest, but everyone knows the value in that now.

For a guy making $20k, $40k, $60 a year just from investments, paying capital gains doesn't give him any benefit over federal tax. Actually, it PENALIZES you by denying you SS benefits on those taxes you would otherwise be earning! Eliminate capital gains full stop. Income is income, tax it as such. It'll help small investors, and make the oligarch class living off inheritance and investments finally pay their fair share.
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

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Raise the cap and be done with it. There is absolutely no reason a movie star, professional athelete, hedge fund manger, CEO, etc.etc. should not have 100% of his income taxed just like the average ditch digger does now.
Might have to tweak full retirement age up a year in a decade or so....looking at the demographics.
 
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Slappy Pappy

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So you don’t want to have a discussion on how to fix the program? We obviously need to do something and 1 Republican suggested an idea.
They only tax SS up to like $140k. So you cap the maximum benefit at whatever it is for that much, then raise the cap, possibly at a slightly adjusted rate. That would add several decades to the program. Maybe until 2100. Combine that with eliminating capital gains to straight federal tax structure, and it would conceivably be funded forever.
 
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Neoliberalism, Christian fascism, and the entirely sold out to corporations GOP Are brutal, cruel, and their policies and mission and work are antithetical to a sustainable and livable society, environment and civilization.

they are anti people, anti public, anti democracy, anti planet.
 

ATLNole1

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Feb 1, 2007
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We all know these programs will never be completely eliminated but we absolutely need to look at ways to preserve them. I don't know what the answer is for SS but it is unsustainable in its current form. Maybe a combination of means testing, raising the age to claim and unfortunately benefit cuts are ultimately needed. Kicking the can down the road for another generation to solve helps no one except the current politicians who use the issue for political gain.

In planning my retirement, I completely remove SS from any income computation because I have no confidence it will still be there when I retire. Great if is but I am not relying on it for income.
 

Tom Paris

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I’ll need to spend time reading SEVERAL sources on this. WaPo serving as house organ for the DNC doesn’t inspire faith in my getting all the facts from all angles.
FTR I’ve always favored raising the retirement age and lifting the ceiling on SSI taxable earnings.
Maybe you should listen to their own words. Start with Rick Scott. Even a Fox News anchor blasted him on air. This is the Republican plan. W Bush brought it up 20 years ago and had to back off because people wigged out about it.

Make no mistake about it, Republicans in power what to steal SS and Medicaid.
 

joelbc1

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you can’t always get what you want!
Maybe you should listen to their own words. Start with Rick Scott. Even a Fox News anchor blasted him on air. This is the Republican plan. W Bush brought it up 20 years ago and had to back off because people wigged out about it.

Make no mistake about it, Republicans in power what to steal SS and Medicaid.
Again...and this cannot be overstated...Republicans have always opposed the idea of Social Security and MediCare! Ever since their beginnings! Republicans have always claimed “the private sector can do it cheaper, better, and more efficiently” than the government, although they have never offered a program as evidence or proof!
Somewhere in the archives their is a great FDR speech where he is mocking the Republicans with his “we can do it better” quote.
One thing about FDR.....for the vast majority of his political career...he did own the Republicans.
 

IamHawkeye

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Oct 1, 2001
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There are a few things that, IMO, should be considered:
* As others have mentioned, either eliminate or raise the maximum amount subject to SS tax. I'd also be fine with capping the amount on which future benefits are calculated at a number lower than the cap on which it's taxed.

* Possibly raise the "full retirement age" by a couple of years

* Increase the penalty for beginning to draw "early"

* Change the "spousal benefit" rule; it's ridiculous, IMO, that a spouse can draw 50% of the benefit of his/her still-living spouse. If the higher-earning spouse dies, I can see bumping up the survivor's benefit some, but the potential payouts under the existing rules are crazy.

Those three things would be a good start.
Hey Gramma (or it could be Grampa) you will have to come live with us now.
 
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Fijimn

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May 7, 2008
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Raise the cap and be done with it. There is absolutely no reason a movie star, professional athelete, hedge fund manger, CEO, etc.etc. should not have 100% of his income taxed just like the average ditch digger does now.
Disagree! I like my extra bump in take home come May/June.
 

joelbc1

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Sep 5, 2007
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you can’t always get what you want!
There are a few things that, IMO, should be considered:
* As others have mentioned, either eliminate or raise the maximum amount subject to SS tax. I'd also be fine with capping the amount on which future benefits are calculated at a number lower than the cap on which it's taxed.

* Possibly raise the "full retirement age" by a couple of years

* Increase the penalty for beginning to draw "early"

* Change the "spousal benefit" rule; it's ridiculous, IMO, that a spouse can draw 50% of the benefit of his/her still-living spouse. If the higher-earning spouse dies, I can see bumping up the survivor's benefit some, but the potential payouts under the existing rules are crazy.

Those three things would be a good start.
It seems to me that reasonable people could sit in a locked room for half a day and come up with a fiscal solution that wouldn’t break the bank and bnefit the masses. Didn’t Manchin talk this past weekend about doing legislation that best served the nation as opposed to political parties?

The SS question seems pretty easy to me to solve...what you listed is on the right track.
 

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