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U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said in a 2013 speech that he likes to use an analogy that compares Social Security to “candy” that the “left is giving away.”

Johnson said conservatives point out the problems with Social Security’s solvency while Democrats maintain the entitlement program — funded primarily by payroll taxes paid by workers and employers — is doing OK. Johnson likened Social Security to a dental cavity that “caused an infection that’s in the body, and if we don’t cure it, you’re gonna die.” 

On the 2022 campaign trail, Johnson has said he wants to “save” Social Security by making its funding discretionary, meaning Congress would annually approve it. “Social Security and Medicare both face long-term financial shortfalls under currently scheduled benefits and financing,” the Social Security Adminstration said in 2022. But some critics say requiring annual approval by Congress would jeopardize benefits. 


Jud Lounsbury: Ron Johnson: Social Security is “Candy the Left is Giving Away”

WKOW: Sen. Johnson responds after former Pres. Obama blasts him on Social Security

Wisconsin Public Radio: Ron Johnson calls for annual approval of Social Security, Medicare funding

ABC News: Is Social Security on the GOP’s ‘chopping block’ as Biden claims? Experts weigh in

US Social Security Administration: How is Social Security financed?

US Social Security Administration: Trustees Report Summary

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Erin Gretzinger / Wisconsin WatchReporting Intern

Erin Gretzinger joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism and French major at UW-Madison and will graduate in spring 2023. Erin previously worked for the Wisconsin State Journal as a reporting intern and served as the 2021-22 editor-in-chief at The Badger Herald. She is a recipient of the Jon Wolman Scholarship, the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship and the Joseph Sicherman Award Fund for her academic and reporting work.