Updated: Biden in Joliet blasts Republicans on Social Security, stumps for Democrats

President joined by Illinois senators and Rep. Lauren Underwood

President Joe Biden speaks at Jones Elementary School in Joliet on Saturday.

President Joe Biden was in Joliet on Saturday repeating a campaign message that Republicans pose a threat to Social Security and want to reverse health care savings delivered by Democrats.

Biden’s speech to a few hundred supporters at Jones Elementary School comes ahead of the final day of voting Tuesday in a midterm election in which Republicans are expected to to make gains and possibly take control both houses of Congress as voters grapple with the impact of inflation.

President Joe Biden speaks about Social Security and Medicare during a stop in Joliet at Jones Elementary School on Saturday.

Democrats are trying to focus voters’ attention on other issues. In Joliet, as he has elsewhere, Biden sounded the alarm about a potential threat to Social Security while emphasizing benefits coming to seniors from the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Democrats in Congress.

“For the first time in almost a decade, Social Security checks are going up and Medicare costs are going down,” Biden said. “Now Republicans are telling us that their number one priority is to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act.”

Biden cited controls on drug costs in the Inflation Reduction Act as examples of benefits seniors would start getting next year.

He raised the threat of lost Social Security benefits, pointing to a proposal from Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida to sunset all federal legislation every five years, posing the possibility that ongoing programs such as Social Security could be eliminated or reduced.

“You’ve been paying for this your whole life,” Biden said. “Now these guys want to take it away. Who the hell do they think they are?”

President Joe Biden waves as he exits after speaking about Social Security and Medicare during a stop in Joliet at Jones Elementary School on Saturday.

It wasn’t the only fiery remark from Biden, who derided protesters lined up outside the school waving Trump flags and American flags. Biden objected to signs he saw in the protest line.

“Socialism,” he said, quoting the signs. “Give me a break. What idiots.”

Biden’s speech included the kind of folksy references he’s known for, including memories of advice from his father and grandparents. He talked of the impact of government policies on average people and seemed to show a recognition of the booming warehouse industry in Joliet.

“Imagine that young dad working at a warehouse in Joliet and has kids whom he comes home to,” Biden said as he drew scenarios under which people could be affected by a loss in Social Security benefits.

Republicans have contested the accusation that they want to end Social Security but said the system faces future financial problems that have not been addressed and could put it in peril for future retirees.

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood speaks before President Joe Biden takes the stage during his stop in Joliet at Jones Elementary School on Saturday.

Biden appeared with U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, who is seeking reelection in the newly drawn 14th Congressional District.

The visit to Joliet at a time that the president is traveling around the country to bolster Democrats’ chances in the midterm election suggests Underwood is in a close contest. She faces Scott Gryder, an Oswego Republican, who is chairman of the Kendall County Board.

Biden came into Kendall County for his appearance Jones Elementary School. The school, actually in the Minooka School District, is in a section of Joliet that stretches into Kendall County.

The president praised Underwood, who spoke along with Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth before Biden.

Senator Tammy Duckworth takes the stage before President Joe Biden scheduled speech during his stop in Joliet at Jones Elementary School on Saturday.

Underwood hit on the same themes as the president, defending the Inflation Reduction Act and touting its benefits for seniors.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is going to lower costs for over 100,000 seniors with Medicare living in the 14th District,” Underwood said.

Gryder, in a statement after the Biden appearance, blamed Underwood for rising gas, grocery and utility prices that he said are hurting seniors.

“The race is close,” Gryder said, “and make no mistake, Joe Biden is on a rescue mission to save a failing incumbent who is not listening to the residents of the 14th Congressional District who are concerned about inflation, cost of living increases, poor economy and safe neighborhoods.”

The appearance was the second in Illinois in two days for the president, who was in Chicago on Friday. Vice President Kamela Harris will be in Chicago on Sunday, indicating Democrats believe they need to shore up votes even in a state that is strongly Democratic.