Republicans' choice of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to both lead the House Budget Committee and respond to the President’s State of the Union address signifies their leadership’s support for dismantling Social Security and Medicare, leading congressional Democrats argued on Monday.

“In an unsettling development for America’s seniors, ending Social Security and Medicare is now the official position of the Republican Party,” announced Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a statement on Monday. “Republicans tapped Congressman Ryan, the architect of a plan to end Social Security and Medicare, to deliver their response to the President’s State of the Union, and his plan has been endorsed by the House Majority Leader and the top Republicans on the House and Senate budget committees.”

In a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also said they believe Republicans are using Ryan as a ‘lightning rod’ for their plan to dissemble Social Security and Medicare.

“It’s clear from their selection of Congressman Ryan to be spokesman in the wake of the State of the Union address, and from their decision to vote on a resolution to give him unfettered power on what to cut, that they are getting behind his plan,” said Whitehouse. “That makes is clear they are going after Social Security and Medicare.”

Sanders called Ryan’s priorities “absurd” and “a very wrong approach for the country.”

“We need to strengthen social security, not weaken it,” said Sanders.

Ryan’s roadmap would reduce Social Security benefits and replace Medicare with private voucher payments for most younger Americans.