Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes slammed Sen. Ron Johnson as a "self-serving, multimillionaire" on Tuesday after the sitting Republican from Wisconsin called for making both Social Security and Medicare discretionary programs—a reform that would pave the way for the GOP to realize its half-century-long dream of dismantling two of the nation's most essential and popular social programs.
Speaking on a right-wing radio show earlier in the day, Johnson criticized the "mandatory" spending demanded by Social Security and Medicare, guaranteed benefit programs available to all Americans and overwhelmingly popular.
"What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so that it's all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken," said Johnson on the Regular Joe Show.
In his response, Barnes said the Trump-supporting Republican incumbent "wants to strip working people of the Social Security and Medicare they've earned. Wisconsinites pay into Social Security through a lifetime of hard work, and they're counting on this program and Medicare—but Ron Johnson just doesn't care."
Barnes, who currently serves as Wisconsin's Lt. Governor, was far from the only critic to pounce on Johnson's remarks.
"Johnson wants to END the Social Security and Medicare guarantee," said the advocacy group Social Security Works on social media. "This would be a disaster for seniors and people with disabilities in Wisconsin and across the country."
It's not the first time Johnson has attacked Social Security. Just last year, he called the program a "Ponzi scheme" and has variously supported legislation that would raise the retirement age for seniors and backed other GOP proposals to increase out-of-pocket spending by Medicare beneficiaries.
In a statement, Philip Shulman, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said, "Ron Johnson has made clear he would cut Social Security and Medicare despite the devastating impact it would have on older Wisconsinites. During his years in D.C., Johnson has lost touch with Wisconsinites and voters will hold him accountable in November."
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Jon Queally.