Sen. Johnson to Newsmax: Obama to “Maximize Pain” for Political Gain

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013 02:43 PM

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

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Sen. Ron Johnson tells Newsmax that sequestration is “inevitable” because President Obama is not serious about reining in federal spending — and wants to “maximize the pain” for political gain.

But the Wisconsin Republican says sequestration won’t be “disruptive” if it’s managed effectively.

And he declares that Obama’s use of executive orders shows his “utter lack of respect” for the Constitution.

Johnson, a successful businessman, was elected in 2010, defeating three-term Democrat Russ Feingold. He is a member of the Senate Budget and Foreign Relations Committees.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Wednesday, Johnson was asked if sequestration will definitely take place or if there is still the possibility of a last-minute deal.

“It is inevitable because this president has never been serious about reducing the size of government or restraining spending,” Johnson says.

“He talks about a balanced approach. He insisted on a bill that could increase taxes on Americans, so he got that part of his balanced plan. The question the American people will be asking this president is, what’s the other part of this balanced approach?

“What they’re seeing is the hypocrisy of that talking point. He has no interest in a balanced approach. All he wants is increased taxes. He wants to increase revenue by increasing the pain on the American public and he has no intention of reducing the size of government,” Johnson says.

“Unfortunately, he’s going to try and maximize the pain for political gain and that’s very unfortunate. It’s certainly not what the American people expect out of their president,” he adds.

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Johnson said House Speaker John Boehner could lose the speakership if he caves on taxes. But Johnson tells Newsmax he is not concerned that Boehner will give in and agree to higher taxes.

“Is John Boehner going to violate the Hastert Rule, which is bringing a bill to the House that doesn’t have a majority support of the majority party? I don’t believe he will.

“Sequestration is a culmination of budget fight after budget fight after budget fight. I didn’t vote for the Budget Control Act but it established the spending caps. Certainly talking to members of the House as well as listening to what Speaker Boehner is saying, I don’t believe they have any intention of letting the president weasel out of the bill he signed, . . . the guarantee he made to the American public of not spending more than this amount,” Johnson says.

“I wasn’t throwing Speaker Boehner under the bus, I was actually supporting him. He is very sincere in wanting to solve the debt problem. It’s President Obama who is not sincere about this.

“What Republicans will do is hold President Obama to his word, to the piece of legislation that President Obama signed,” he says.

As for Obama’s warnings that sequestration will be catastrophic, Johnson observes: “Unfortunately President Obama looks like he’s going to try and manage this for maximum pain, but what Republicans are going to try to do is give him flexibility, and hopefully do it in a very visible way.

“We’re literally talking about 2.3 percent of a $3.6 billion-a-year budget. So it doesn’t have to be painful. It shouldn’t be disruptive if it’s managed effectively. There’s probably more flexibility in that act than President Obama is admitting to right now because he’s playing politics with this issue.”

Johnson agrees with those who say sequestration would be a victory for the tea party, which supported his Senate campaign.

“We have produced some spending restraint in the two years I’ve been here. It’s nowhere enough. It just shows you how enormous the challenge is,” he says.

“When President Obama talks about a grand bargain or a balanced approach you can see this minor amount of spending restraint, so I would say yes, that’s some victory, but we have a lot farther to go.

“Primarily what we have to do is convince President Obama, his party, to seriously understand that without reform, Social Security and Medicare will not be available for future generations. That’s the real problem, that’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room that the other side, that President Obama and his party refuse to even put on the table.”

Johnson says President Obama’s potential use of executive orders during his second term “concerns me highly. He wasn’t particularly concerned about using executive orders in his first term and it’s going to get even worse.

“What’s really jaw-dropping is now an appeals court has found that his appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional, but that board is still meeting and still issuing orders. It’s brazen, this president’s approach to his job and his utter lack of respect for the constitutional limitations of his power.”

Johnson gives Sen. Marco Rubio “high marks” for his proposed immigration reform, adding: “What we should be doing as Republicans is passing the components of that immigration reform out of the House in a step-by-step basis.

“If border security is the first thing we have to do, let’s pass a border security piece of legislation, one that actually shows how we’re going to secure the border. We should pass a guest-worker program.

“We should do these things in the House. That would strengthen the hands of the Republicans dealing with the Democrats in the Senate, because I’m highly concerned that the president really doesn’t want to solve the problem, that he just wants this as an ongoing election issue.”

In his Newsmax interview, Johnson also says President Obama has been “woefully wrong” in his handling of Iran and its nuclear weapons program.

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