Sen. Ron Johnson Tries To Squirm Out Of Threats He Made To Social Security

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has angrily denied that he ever threatened the Social Security program — even though he has.

Johnson, a devoted Trump ally who is trailing in the polls in the upcoming midterms, last month proposed that funding for Social Security (and Medicare) be decided year by year as part of “discretionary” spending programs. That would subject funding to a potentially fierce partisan political battle annually, jeopardizing a predictable income for some 69 million Americans — most of whom have paid into the program their entire working lives.

Johnson insisted Sunday on “Fox & Friends” that claims he’s out to gut Social Security are a “lie.”

“All the Democrats can do is lie about me,” said the testy senator. “The most outrageous lie they’re telling about me right now is that I want to cut or end Social Security ... what elected official would ever want to cut Social Security? It is absurd on its face. I want to save Social Security.”

Johnson warns in his campaign website that Social Security benefits may have to be “cut” without enough money to support the program. Yet Johnson enthusiastically voted during the Trump administration to slash corporate taxes 40%, sucking an estimated $2.3 trillion out of the American Treasury over 10 years.

Ben Nuckels, a Wisconsin-based Democratic strategist, said Johnson had stepped on the “third rail” of American politics by threatening the stability of Social Security and Medicare funding.

“Ron Johnson never misses an opportunity to stick his foot in his mouth,” Nuckels told The Hill. “Johnson opened up this big new line of attack with his radical, extreme positions on Social Security that voters 55 and over are going to be acutely aware of. When you have 60 to 65% of the electorate above the age of 50, that’s going to be a big problem for him,” he said.

The Social Security issue is not the only one Johnson is now trying to dodge.

He’s also ducking his attempt to deliver a slate of fake electors to former Vice President Mike Pence to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. Now he insists he was only involved for “seconds,” and that he really had no idea what was going on.

“I had virtually no involvement,” the senator told a reporter last month. “Literally, my involvement lasted seconds, OK?”

Johnson never had the opportunity to turn over the names of the fake electors because Pence’s chief of staff said they wouldn’t be accepted.

One of the fake electors is on Johnson’s campaign payroll. The Department of Justice is currently investigating fake electors in Wisconsin and six other states and their plot to overthrow the choice of voters, according to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the House Jan. 6 commission.

Johnson currently appears to be the most vulnerable of Republican senators in the midterm elections. The 11-year Senate veteran is trailing Democratic opponent Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes by a slim margin, according to recent polls, in yet another example that extreme Trump loyalty might not pay off in the general election.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.