George Logan addresses seniors in Meriden Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Republican 5th Congressional District candidate George Logan stood Friday in front of a bingo board at the Meriden Senior Center and sought to reassure its patrons he had no plans to eliminate their Social Security benefits. 

Logan is a former state senator who, according to a recent poll, is in a dead heat race against two-term incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes. He arrived at the senior center’s modestly populated dining hall a few minutes before Nancy Johnson, a former congresswoman and last Republican to represent the district before she lost the seat in 2006 to Chris Murphy, who was succeeded by Hayes in 2012 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. 

After shaking a few hands and stepping to a microphone, it took Logan less than two minutes to arrive at the subject of Social Security benefits and accuse his opponent of lying about his intentions.

“I heard that my opponent has been going to senior centers telling people that I want to eliminate Social Security, that I want to eliminate Medicare. That is false,” Logan said. “I’m right here telling you right now: absolutely false. As a matter of fact, my opponent and President Biden’s administration, they’re the ones who are responsible for the fact that Social Security is in such bad shape.”

Hayes, according to the center’s director, had addressed the Meriden seniors two days earlier. In a statement Friday, her campaign manager, Barbara Ellis said she was unsurprised by Logan’s appearance at the center with Johnson and said the Republican hopeful represented a threat to senior entitlement programs. 

“Nancy Johnson showed similar support for [former candidates] Manny Santos and David Sullivan in previous elections against the Congresswoman. It doesn’t change the fact that when he votes for [House Republican leader] Kevin McCarthy, he’ll be voting to cut Social Security and Medicare for people in Connecticut,” Ellis said.

With three days before Election Day, the same argument has played out in races around the country and it’s driven in part by proposals floated by some congressional Republicans. 

One proposal, from U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla, would require Congress to renew the programs every five years. Meanwhile, other Congressional Republicans have argued that looming debt limit negotiations might be used as leverage to enact spending cuts to programs including Social Security and Medicare, according to Bloomberg Government

Biden amplified those concerns during a Tuesday visit to Florida, where he told the crowd “They’re coming after your Social Security and Medicare in a big way.” 

Former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson speaks while George Logan looks on Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

On Friday, Logan and Johnson called those efforts scare tactics. At 87 years old, Johnson told the seniors “I’m now one of you” and assured the group they shouldn’t “lose a moment’s sleep” about entitlement program cuts from congressional Republicans.

“The newspapers are saying Republicans are going to cut Social Security. Don’t you believe it,” Johnson said. “That’s just scare tactics. All of us love Social Security… Any change to Social Security, you’ll know about it because it will take a year to make it. There’s some changes that could be made to cut costs of administration, which we might want to do and so on and so forth, [but] we do want to keep it whole. It’s our lifeline.”

Speaking to reporters at the senior center, Logan shrugged off a question on Republican Social Security proposals, saying he did not agree with any elected official on every front and would instead work to find areas of common ground. 

“My goal when I go to Washington is to help shore up Social Security, to make it stronger — to help shore up and make stronger Medicare,” Logan said. “Under Democrat leadership, they have not been able to fix the problem.”

How would he shore up the entitlement programs? He answered generally, saying he would work to improve the economy and make sure the benefits get efficiently to those they are intended to help.

“When it comes to Social Security, we certainly can let it be the way it is now. We need to make some changes and I’m going to work with the best and the brightest minds in Washington to make sure that we come up with policy that’s going to make it stronger,” Logan said.