Sen. Johnson in Hudson Saturday, talks about various issues
Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (Republican from Oshkosh) was in Hudson Saturday morning and took questions from reporters at the Hudson cable access studio, 901 Fourth St.
He addressed several issues, including the perception that Republicans are blocking progress in Washington, the Stillwater Bridge, jobs, pulling from Iraq, Social Security-Medicare-entitlements and the federal budget.
"The Republicans control only the House," Johnson said. "Democrats control the oval office and the senate. Over 100 bills have been approved in the House and were stopped in the Senate. The Democrat Senate has not approved a budget in two years.
"I refute the idea that the Republicans are the blocking party," Johnson said. "Our government has evolved to the point where it needs presidential leadership. President Obama has not been leading. His budget lost in the Democrat controlled Senate 0-97. "
Johnson was complimentary to representatives from both parties for their support of the Stillwater Bridge project.
"Republicans and Democrat representatives in both Minnesota and Wisconsin have been supportive of the bridge construction," Johnson said. "I'm fiscally conservative, but I'm not against government. We need government for many things - including infrastructure like the proposed new bridge."
"What are we doing the help people get back to work - what's holding the economy back?" Johnson asked. He answered his own question by saying this is an area where less government is needed.
"Look at two examples - President Reagan and President Obama," Johnson said. "Reagan came in with the approach that government is not the solution - government is part of the problem. He advocated less government and fewer regulations.
Obama came in with the approach that government is the answer."
Johnson said the best thing the government can do is to remove the uncertainty. He said tax increase harm the growth of the economy.
"We have to show businesses, people and the globe that we have control over the economy," Johnson said.
The senator showed a couple of charts to illustrate that he's not against government growth, but that it has to be contained. A one-year spending chart showed a budget of $1.9 trillion in 2001 and $3.6 trillion in 2011. The same chart showed that the Obama budget showed a budget of $5.8 trillion in 2021 - the proposed Republican budget was $4.8 trillion.
"It's not a budget cut, it just decreases the amount of the increase," Johnson said.
A similar 10-year spending charted showed similar numbers. The Obama 10-year budget showed $46.1 trillion in spending between 2012 and 2021. The Republican proposal showed $40 trillion - both a healthy increase over the 2002-2011 figure of $27.9 trillion.
Johnson said the withdraw date for troops from Iraq could be a "short-sighted" decision.
"I hope it turns out okay, but we have lost 4,500 lives and American always seeks freedom for others - I think we're seeing the results in the Middle East," Johnson said. "I think President Obama's decision may be purely political. The lost lives and money may be for naught."
Johnson praised the job climate in Wisconsin, but said Wisconsin and the United States have to recognize that we are competing globally.
"Japan is about to lower its business tax - do you realize that when that happens, the United States will have the highest business taxes in the world?" Johnson said. "Not a good thing."
He said job creation involves taxes, a good work force and regulations.
"We have a great work force, but we're heavy on taxes and regulations," Johnson said. "We need some regulations, but we are over-regulating."
There are problems with entitlements, but I wish people would stop talking like Republicans are going to take away Social Security and Medicare," Johnson said. "Nobody is talking about ending those programs.
"The question is, what can we do about future generations."
He said to honor current unfunded liabilities and promises would require between $50 and $100 trillion.
"Think about that," Johnson said. "The total asset base of the United States in $78 trillion. What I fear is the true day of reckoning.
He said that if the United States faces the same issues as Greece, interest rates on government loans would increase dramatically, virtually paralyzing the country's financial situation.
"When I ask young people about Social Security and Medicare, they say they expect nothing in the future," Johnson said. "That's not fair - everyone is paying into the system. The young people would be receptive, however, to reform."