Gov. Walker Also Wants ‘Significant Reforms’ To Entitlement Programs

April 14, 2015 5:09 p.m.

After New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) unveiled a set of proposed changes to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare on Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signaled that he would also like to see “significant reforms” to the nation’s entitlement programs.

“For far too long, Washington has kicked the can down the road on entitlement programs. Absent significant reforms, these programs will go bankrupt and the people who have paid into them will be left out in the cold,” Walker said in a statement to TPM. “We need a leader who will implement true reforms to save and protect these programs for future generations.”

Christie’s proposals included cutting Social Security benefits to seniors making more than $80,000 a year. Benefits would be completely eliminated for incomes above $200,000 a year. That proposal was in ways more far-reaching than changes proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Christie, like Walker, appears to be gearing up to run for president in 2016.

Both Christie’s speech and Walker’s response suggest that entitlement programs will be a major topic in the 2016 cycle. Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have called on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support expanding entitlement programs in her campaign for president.

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Walker has weighed in on national entitlement programs only a few times previously. In February, he told Bloomberg News that entitlement programs should be cut to slash the national deficit.

In a policy memo published in 2000 when he was state representative, Walker urged then-Texas Gov. George Bush (R) to run his presidential campaign on making changes to Social Security that would preserve it for future generations.

“On Social Security, run an ad with a 50 year old man and his parents talking about how the Bush plan preserves Social Security for his parents and then include the man’s college age son and have him talk about how the Bush plan ensures that there will be something left for him, too,” Walker wrote at the time. “They should all talk about being upset with the politics of the past eight years and that they want a President with the courage to lead.”

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