The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: ron johnson

Johnson Is America's Most Unpopular Senator (Except For McConnell)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is deeply unpopular among his own constituents, according to a new poll released Monday. In fact, the only current senator with a lower approval rating is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has infamously blocked hundreds of popular pieces of legislation.

According to a Morning Consult Political Intelligence survey of all 50 states, just 37 percent of registered Wisconsin voters approve of Johnson, while 51 percent disapprove. The remaining 12 percent said they did not know or had no opinion.

This made him the second-most unpopular senator out of the 100 currently serving, after only McConnell; Kentucky voters disapprove of him by a 60 percent -- 33 percent margin.

Though Johnson's 37 percent approval rating in the poll is dismal, it is actually slightly higher than in other recent polling. Some recent surveys put his approval at 35 percent, while a March Marquette University Law School poll found him at just 33 percent support.

The Republican is currently seeking reelection to a third term, breaking a promise to serve no more than two.

He has refused to take responsibility for his unpopularity, claiming in January that it is all the news media's fault. "First of all, I'm not a polarizing figure. It's just that people in the legacy media call me one and all of a sudden, you become one. I'm not a polarizing figure at all. I'm just trying to convey the truth. I've done a really good job as Wisconsin's United States senator," he told Milwaukee television station WISN.

But in fact, he has been quite polarizing.

Johnson has come under fire in recent months for his votes to cut taxes for himself and his very rich donors while backing "most of" National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott's 11-point "Rescue America" proposal — which includes a large tax hike for more than 100 million lower-income and retired Americans — and fighting against efforts to make child care more affordable. In October, Johnson said that the top 1% of earners already pay "pretty close to a fair share."

He also has angered Wisconsin workers by refusing to even try to bring home good jobs. He backed a decision by Oshkosh Defense — a large Wisconsin-based manufacturing company and one of his largest campaign funders — to locate over 1,000 jobs in Spartanburg, South Carolina, instead of his state. Johnson said it was not his "job is not to micromanage a private company" and that putting the jobs in a different state would actually "benefit Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and Oshkosh workers."

"It's not like we don't have enough jobs here in Wisconsin," he told reporters in February. "I think when using federal tax dollars, you want to spend those in the most efficient way, and if it's more efficient, more effective to spend those in other states, I don't have a real problem with that."

Johnson has also refused to fight to locate jobs in the United States instead of abroad. Last month, he opposed federal funds to help the American microchip industry compete against China, indicating that he did not want to "have government picking the winners and losers."

President Joe Biden narrowly carried Wisconsin in the 2020 election. The Cook Political Report lists the 2022 Senate race as a toss-up.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sen. Ron Johnson's Solution For Child Care Crisis Is Predictably Awful

Sen. Ron Johnson thinks he has a solution to the labor crisis in child care. Typically of Johnson, his proposed solution craps in equal measure on child care workers, women receiving public assistance, and Wisconsin state law.

“When you have mothers on different kinds of public assistance, to me, an elegant solution would be, why don’t we have them help staff child care for other mothers?” Johnson asked on a recent telephone town hall. “I think there’s an imaginative solution here.”

It’s not that imaginative. Women taking care of other people’s children, formally or informally, as a way to earn a little income while caring for their own children at the same time, is not a new idea or practice, and Wisconsin banned state subsidy payments from going to child care providers where employees’ children received care in 2009, because it’s not always a good idea. (Though it can be! It’s just complicated and there need to be guardrails.) Johnson even acknowledged some of the possible problems, saying, “I understand, you know, having a mother in charge of a bunch of kids plus her own kids, she may not provide the care to the other kids.” But he still wanted to be “imaginative” about a thing that’s been done basically every way you could imagine.

Beyond Johnson’s lack of imagination, there are big problems on both sides of the equation here. Children in daycare deserve better than people who have been forced into the job without training or motivation. Early childhood education is a job that involves knowledge and training and skill, and being a mother does not automatically equip a person to care for multiple children who are not your own. Unless Johnson is envisioning a major early childhood education training system to equip women on welfare to be skilled, high-quality caregivers for young children (he’s not), he’s suggesting the creation of really inadequate care environments.

On the other side, women on welfare deserve better than to be shoved into a demanding, low-paid profession simply because they are in need of that type of service for their own kids. Many are unemployed for very good reasons beyond having children. Work requirements more generally have been shown not to reduce poverty. And giving employers essentially a pool of semi-forced labor is going to make jobs worse for everyone.

A Johnson spokesperson insisted that he was just suggesting something that already kinda-sorta happens. “His suggestion was to look at Wisconsin’s law that prevents a child care provider from receiving funds if an employee’s child receives care,” Alexa Hennings said. “He said he understood why that law is in place but suggested we reevaluate it to see if there’s some way to create a win for children and parents. Why should child care centers be different than schools that allow teachers to teach at government-funded schools where their children attend?”

So many reasons. Most child care centers are much smaller than most K-12 schools, increasing the likelihood that a child will be cared for by its own mother. He is not talking about pushing anyone into K-12 teaching for the purposes of getting schooling for their children. Kids attend schools where their parents teach usually when their parents teach in the local school, rather than there being a system set up to put parents and children into the same schools or even classrooms. It’s a blisteringly stupid comparison.

Two of Johnson’s Democratic Senate challengers responded sharply to his idea. “We have a full-blown child care crisis and a record number of moms getting knocked out of the workforce,” said state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. “There are common-sense solutions to these problems, but Ron Johnson’s ‘imaginative’ idea would punish moms and drag us back to the 1950s. I have news for this guy: We’re not going back.”

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said, “The pandemic has effectively set women’s participation in the workforce back a generation, and Ron Johnson’s solution to the child care crisis—on Equal Pay Day no less—is to add to their burden.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Ron Johnson Scheming To Repeal Obamacare In 2023

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Monday that if his party regains control of Congress in Washington, D.C., it will again push to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.

In an interview with the right-wing website Breitbart — first flagged by the progressive research group American Bridge 21st Century — Johnson was asked what Republicans would do if they win back the majority in the November 2022 midterms.

The second-term Republican replied by noting that as long as President Joe Biden is in the White House, they will be unable to pass much legislation — but could use the next two years "to stop any further slouching toward Gomorrah," a reference to the late extreme right-wing jurist Robert Bork's 1996 book blaming the decline of America on liberalism, and "any future slide toward socialism."

Johnson then noted that if Republicans can win back the White House in 2024 and maintain control of Congress, they need to have a plan in place to "make good on what we established as our priorities."

He specifically cited getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010 and commonly known as Obamacare, saying, "For example, if we were going to repeal and replace Obamacare — OK, I think we still need to fix our health care system — we need to have the plan ahead of time so that once we get in office, we can implement it immediately, not knock around like we did last time and fail."

Like many other Republicans first elected in the 2010 tea party wave, Johnson ran originally on a promise that he would "repeal and replace" Obamacare.

"Ron will vote to repeal the Health Care Bill and replace it with market-based solutions that will include: portability, malpractice reform, mandate reduction, insurance purchase across state lines, lower costs, and a safety net for those with pre-existing conditions," the issues section of his 2010 campaign site noted.

Donald Trump ran for president in 2016 on an explicit but vague promise to "immediately" replace Obamacare with something "terrific" that would guarantee health insurance coverage to every single American.

Without any actual plan to do that, Trump in 2017 signed on to a congressional GOP health care plan that the Congressional Budget Office said would have kicked 23 million people off of their insurance. Johnson repeatedly backed Trump's proposals, but the Republican majority in the Senate could not muster the needed 51 votes for any of multiple attempts to repeal Obamacare.

Johnson vowed in 2017 that he would not give up on finding a way to get rid of Obamacare. But by 2018, the once-unpopular law had become significantly more favorably viewed by the American public, and Republicans began to scrub their websites of any repeal-and-replace language.

Johnson's own campaign issues page no longer mentions Obamacare at all, and his old "Real Reforms for Health Care" page is now gone.

As of last summer, Department of Health and Human Services data showed that about 31 million Americans now receive health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's tracking poll, as of October the law enjoyed 58% public approval and only 41% disapproval.

But Obamacare's success and popularity have not deterred Johnson, whose own approval ratings are in the mid- to low 30s, from his quest to get rid of it.

Johnson's latest comments come just weeks after he said that he did not think affordable child care was society's problem.

The Wisconsin Republican, who in 2018 had an estimated net worth of more than $39 million, told a reporter in January, "People decide to have families and become parents. That's something they need to consider when they make that choice. I've never really felt it was society's responsibility to take care of other people's children."

"If you're proposing that the federal government incur even more deficit spending to provide child care for parents? I mean, I don't see how that's a solution at all," he added.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Ron Johnson Compares Anti-Vax Convoy To Holocaust Victims

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Monday compared a convoy of anti-vaccine truckers in Canada to those exterminated by the Nazis during the Holocaust and falsely claimed that the self-named "Freedom Convoy" had acted lawfully to stand up to "tyrants."

In a Wisconsin conservative radio show appearance, Johnson told host Vicki McKenna that "very peaceful" protests are the best way to fight COVID-19 safety measures, and said that that was "the hallmark of what happened in Canada."

He claimed that his wife had seen a report that the truckers "were honking their horns, it was kinda disturbing the peace, [and so] they stopped honking their horns. Don't do anything unlawful." In reality, it took a court order to get hundreds of angry truckers to stop blaring their horns as they intentionally blocked traffic in the nation's capital city of Ottawa.

"I thought the conduct of the truckers, the Canadians up there, was just exemplary," Johnson continued. "That's what you need to keep doing. Again, it's not gonna go away. I'm hearing a truck convoy in the U.S. — we'll see what comes of that. We'll see how the tyrants react to it."

He then suggested that the Canadian government's attempts to disburse the convoy were analogous to the genocide of millions of people under Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime:

I recently downloaded Martin Niemöller's famous quote: "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak [out] because I was not a socialist" — and you know how it goes on — and "then they came for the trade unionists" and "I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me." I think I heard one of the Canadian protesters paraphrase that. People are noticing. People are awakening.

The group of truck drivers upset about a variety of Canada's rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 — including a rule that unvaccinated truckers quarantine for a few days after reentering the country following travel in the United States — formed a convoy to block highways, bridges, and border crossings in Ottawa and other parts of Canada.

Contrary to Johnson's claims that the group's behavior has been "exemplary" and lawful, its weeks-long protests were anything but.

Indeed police arrested 11 protesters last Monday blocking a border crossing in Alberta, seizing a "cache of firearms with a large quantity of ammunition," apparently for use in a possible confrontation with law enforcement.

Other convoy members forced small businesses to shut down, caused damage to government vehicles, tried to make an Ottawa homeless shelter feed them, impeded the nation's supply chain and economy, waved Nazi flags, and even desecrated Canada's National War Memorial.

Even Conservative officials in Canada criticized the unpopular demonstrations and urged the convoys to go home. But Johnson and other Republicans in the United States have been cheering them on and even egging on anti-vaccine extremists at home to follow the Canadian truckers' example and shut down American supply chains and businesses.

Johnson is but the latest in a growing string of GOP politicians comparing public health efforts to address a pandemic that has killed more than 920,000 Americans with the Holocaust.

Last summer, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked face mask and vaccine requirements as similar to "Nazi practices." After widespread criticism, she apologized for her "offensive" and "hurtful" analogy — and then three weeks later likened President Joe Biden's efforts to make vaccines available door-to-door for those who wanted them to Nazi "Brownshirts."

Around the same time, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert belittled public health workers offering free in-home vaccination as "Needle Nazis."

In January, Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson had to apologize for comparing a vaccination requirement for Washington, D.C., bars, and restaurants to a "Gesundheitspass." German for "health pass," Nazis used the term as part of its "racial hygiene" requirement.

The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland condemned analogies of this type in December, writing, "Exploiting of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay."

In a separate interview on Monday, Johnson told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins that by continuing to treat the pandemic as a public health emergency — even as the coronavirus kills about 2,000 Americans each day — Biden is keeping the American people in a "perpetual state of fear."

Johnson claimed that the federal government, pharmaceutical industry, news media, and tech companies are all part of a nefarious "COVID cartel" that has "cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives" by not embracing unproven treatments.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Ron Johnson Denying Reported Role In January 2021 Sedition Plot

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was one of three Republican lawmakers who attended MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's virtual meeting to discuss how they could possibly delay the election certification affirming President Joe Biden's win.

According to The Washington Post, the meeting took place just two days before the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. The group of individuals who met in person assembled at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Speaking to the Post, Lindell reportedly said that the meeting was for the purpose of discussing the possibility of delaying the election certification.

Other attendees also shared details about the meeting as they revealed a presentation was provided to highlight unfounded claims of alleged voter fraud. However, Johnson appears to be denying the claims.

During a recent radio interview, Johnson also spoke out about the meeting as he attempted to dismiss the reports about the topics discussed during the meeting. Speaking to Wisconsin's WTMG, the Republican lawmaker insisted he didn't "believe that (delaying the certification of the election) was ever discussed. They were talking about what machines might have done."

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who attended Lindell's meeting in person, also made remarks similar to Johnson's.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Wut? Ron Johnson Tells Wisconsin That State ‘Has Enough Jobs’

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who probably shouldn’t be waiting by the phone for MENSA to call, just told his constituents in Wisconsin that he won’t fight for high-paying jobs for them because, “It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin.”

Yep. He really said that. He’s not working to get Oshkosh Corp. to build U.S. Postal Service vehicles, creating about 1,000 jobs, because Wisconsin ... already has jobs. “The biggest problem we have in Wisconsin right now is employers not being able to find enough workers,” he said, sticking to the GOP narrative that President Joe Biden has destroyed everything because COVID, inflation, and the deficit.

“I wouldn’t insert myself to demand that anything be manufactured here using federal funds in Wisconsin,” Johnson told Wisconsin reporters after an event in Wisconsin. “Obviously, I’m supportive of it. But in the end, I think when using federal tax dollars, you want to spend those in the most efficient way and if it’s more efficient, more effective to spend those in other states, I don’t have a real problem with that.”

Oshkosh Corp. won a contract to produce as many as 165,000 electric postal service delivery vehicles last year, and intends to move the manufacturing to Spartanburg, South Carolina. One of the big differences in those two states: In Wisconsin, the labor force is organized. In South Carolina, it will likely be nonunion labor.

Johnson’s fellow Wisconsinite, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, doesn’t not agree. “To me, it’s simple—I want Oshkosh Defense to manufacture trucks in Oshkosh with Wisconsin workers,” Baldwin said in a statement. Which is what senators and representatives are supposed to say about the potential for good-paying manufacturing jobs in their home states. Baldwin said she would “continue to urge Oshkosh Defense and the Postal Service to further scrutinize the final production location in South Carolina based on the strength of our existing, experienced workforce in Wisconsin.”

This is not Johnson’s first questionable brush with the employment question in recent weeks. Last month, back in Wisconsin he opined on inflation and the worker shortage, again, and decided to blame it on the government being too helpful to people. First off, unemployment benefits should be reduced, he said, to force people back on the job.

Also, people should not be getting any help paying for child care so that they can continue to work because ... reasons. “People decide to have families and become parents, that’s something they need to consider when they make that choice,” Johnson said. “I’ve never really felt it was society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children.”

Instead, he said, society has the responsibility to provide opportunities for people to get jobs to support their families. As long as those aren’t union jobs in his state making the next generation of postal service vehicles. No, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s Ron Johnson.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Ron Johnson's Vaccine Falsehoods Busted Again In Brutal Fact-Check

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is being lambasted by fact-checkers yet again for circulating false claims. A new piece published by The Houston Chronicle's Laura Schulte lays out the remarks made by the Republican senator and a fact-checked rebuttal torching his baseless claims.

This particular ordeal centers on Johnson's January 26, 2022, appearance on The Charlie Kirk Show. At the time, Johnson and Kirk discussed COVID vaccines.

"We’ve heard story after story. All these athletes dropping dead on the field," he said during a conversation about the possible adverse effects of COVID vaccines. "But we’re supposed to ignore that. Nothing happening here, nothing to see. This is a travesty, this is a scandal."

Schulte immediately zeroed in on Johnson's exaggerated claim about athletes "dropping dead on the field."

"Is Johnson right?" Schulte asked as she immediately followed with a resounding, "No."

She continued, "Let’s take a closer look."

In wake of Johnson's outlandish remarks, he was asked to provide evidence of his claim. His spokeswoman Vanessa Ambrosini reportedly told The Houston Chronicle that Johnson "has been alarmed by stories he has heard of athletes dying on the field."

"The Senator’s point in raising these issues," Ambrosini said via email, "has always been that our federal health agencies should be concerned about reports on adverse reactions related to COVID-19 vaccines and they should fully investigate and make their findings available to the American people."

While Schulte did acknowledge the validity of those remarks, she argued the specifics of Johnson's claims. "The claim was that there are stories about all sorts of athletes dying in the midst of competition, or at least while practicing," she said.

Although Johnson has a tendency to cite information from the federal database listing alleged adverse vaccine events, Schulte noted that "the database itself notes the claims are not vetted to establish a cause between them."

Patrick Remington —a former epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and director for the preventive medicine residency program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison— offered a detailed explanation of what the CDC actually looks for: "causation, not just coincidence"

"The burden is on credible scientists to study whether vaccination could be associated with this outcome, and no credible science exists to say it is," he said. "We continue to do ongoing surveillance, the vaccine surveillance system is in place to study any possible associations that come up. But to date, I am not aware of any studies or any credible research that suggests that vaccines cause death in young athletes."

Ambrosini also provided a copy of an article published by that suggests "hundreds" of young athletes have died as a result of vaccine complications. "We found no proof of a causal relationship in any of the cases between the vaccines and the injuries or deaths," the fact-check noted, refuting Johnson's claim that there were six deaths.

Another fact check also broke the claim down. Schulte noted: "Days before Johnson took to the Charlie Kirk Show, former NBA All-Star John Stockton on January 23 2022, claimed more than 100 professional athletes who were vaccinated have dropped dead "right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court."

PolitiFact National along with a group of doctors, have also pushed back.

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Century-Old Newspaper Slams Ron Johnson As 'Delusional Huckster'

A century-old Wisconsin newspaper recently launched an unapologetically honest takedown of Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson after he announced he'll seek reelection despite promising to serve only two terms. The popular newspaper is begging Republicans to primary him.

"Ron Johnson is a virus that infects the Wisconsin GOP," The Capital Times writes of the "political careerist who has become known nationally as the U.S. Capitol’s primary purveyor of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic." Johnson, they add, is a "charlatan" and "a delusional huckster who recommends fighting COVID-19 with Listerine." The paper would go to label Johnson as a "political grifter" who "serves as little more than a placeholder for his chief benefactor, defeated former President Donald Trump."

The paper also believes Johnson to not be Republican but rather a Trump Republican (or "Trumplican").

"Ron Johnson is not a Wisconsin Republican. He’s a Trump Republican, and he could care less about what Wisconsin Republicans think, or about the future of their party. That was obvious in the scandal-plagued senator’s decision of where to announce his reelection run: on the opinion pages of the New York City-based Wall Street Journal."

The Capital Times seems to reflect the mindset of the people of Wisconsin who grow increasingly frustrated with the grifting Trumplican. While the senator grips on to loony conspiracies and parroting Trump election lies, several high-profile Democrats are vying for the chance to take him on, including Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes