U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson told WisPolitics.com that Social Security should be the easiest of the entitlement programs to fix, saying things like means testing and raising the retirement age should be on the table as part of the solution.
“For whatever reasons, it’s the third rail and people are afraid of it,” Johnson said in an interview before speaking to the Milwaukee chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers
Johnson stressed that no one is talking about changing benefits for those who are retired or about to retire. He said those at least 55 years old should be shielded from any changes that he says would save the program for future generations.
“Put all those things on the table,” Johnson said. “And you sit down with an actuary, ‘cause in the end it’s math, and you make these programs solvent for 75 years, both Social Security and Medicare.”
Johnson also said he was disappointed that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan decided not to run for president because his candidacy would have created a “real mandate” on entitlement reform.
“He would have brought real substance to the race; he would have actually talked about the issues we need to talk about in this nation,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he's waiting to see how the presidential race develops to make any judgments about the candidates. In both his interview with WisPolitics and remarks to the SPE, Johnson singled out both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. He said he's looking forward to seeing Romney’s economic proposals, while Perry should be afforded some time to establish a national campaign.
“I do believe it would be a disaster if President Obama did get re-elected,” Johnson told WisPolitics. “So I want to see someone that can defeat him.”
In the GOP primary for Wisconsin’s other U.S. Senate seat, Johnson said he hopes the race will be done with integrity and not end up “down in the mud.”
Already, Tommy Thompson loyalists and Mark Neumann fans are exchanging sharp words.
Johnson added that due to Wisconsin’s late primary he wants to ensure the winner of the GOP Senate primary isn't damaged when it comes to the general election. To prevent this, Johnson urged the candidates to run their race as if it were against a Democrat.
“It’s crucial that we win back the Senate,” said Johnson. “Because it’s really people in my party that are actually offering the solutions and are willing to fix this problem.”
And Johnson blamed the Obama administration’s agenda for the slow economic recovery. He acknowledged the president came into office in a tough economic spot, but felt Obama has made things worse.
“The best thing you can do to get the economy moving again is repeal his agenda,” Johnson said. “Repeal Obamacare, repeal Dodd-Frank, roll back all these regulations his agencies have been issuing, they’re doing real harm to our economy.”
“I don’t say that flippantly,” Johnson later said in his address to the SPE. “I say that on some of these cable shows the host goes ‘Ah, no really what is your plan?’ ‘No, really that’s the plan.’”