Sen. Ron Johnson, a successful businessman serving his first term in the Upper House, tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama’s “economic ignorance” is “jaw-dropping” — and charges that he wants to “punish success.”
The Wisconsin Republican also says that a victory in the campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker in his battle with public employee unions would send a terrible message to Washington lawmakers that political “courage” will be penalized.
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Johnson was elected in 2010 in his first run at public office, defeating three-term Democrat Russ Feingold. He is a member of the Committee on the Budget and the Appropriations Committee.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Sen. Johnson was asked what would happen if President Obama is re-elected to another four-year term.
“It’s not pretty,” Johnson declares. “Financially it’s going to be a real disaster because it’s not only the fact that he’s not addressing our budget, but take a look at what his agencies are doing. Since 2008, 11,000 new rules and regulations have been issued. We’re crushing business’ ability to expand and that’s what we need to do. We need to grow our economy.
“This president is hostile to businessmen, to business owners and entrepreneurs. He wants to punish success. That’s not what made American great. What made American great is people taking personal responsibility, the entrepreneurial spirit that’s been the hallmark of this country.
“This president doesn’t understand it because he’s never operated in the private sector. He doesn’t understand economics. His solution to gas prices? Increase taxes on oil companies. How does that lower the price of gas? He’s done the same thing with Obamacare. His economic ignorance is quite honestly jaw-dropping.”
Asked if America’s fiscal situation is the defining issue of the 2012 election, Johnson responds: “I believe it is. It certainly was in 2010. And it’s going to continue to be the defining issue until the credit markets define it for us.
“That’s what we need to avoid. If we don’t address this seriously, at some point in time you’ll have the real day of reckoning here, when world credit markets and creditors take a look at the United States and say we’re not going to loan you money and we’re certainly not going to loan you money at these incredibly low interest rates. Then those rates [will] start increasing.
“For every one percent our average borrowing cost goes up, that adds $160 billion to our annual deficit. That will start crowding out spending rapidly, and you’ll end up with not only a fiscal crisis but a political crisis.”
Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, this week unveiled a plan to cut federal spending by $5.3 trillion over the next 10 years with the aim of producing a balanced budget by 2030.
Commenting on the proposal, Johnson tells Newsmax: “I would like to see us live within our means much sooner. But what is pretty notable is that at least Republicans have a plan. We’re addressing the real drivers of our long-term debt and deficit, and that really is the unsustainable nature of Medicare.
“President Obama has now put forward four budgets and his Treasury secretary admits they don’t even have a plan.
“We can certainly wish for a better plan out of the House Republicans, but at least there’s a plan there.
“I’ll certainly support that but there will be some alternatives here in the Senate which I will probably also support. I do believe it’s possible to bring our budget into balance in a shorter time frame, but it’s going to take presidential leadership” and that is why the election in November 2012 “is so critically important.
“The House will probably pass this budget, but it will die in the Senate. All the good pieces of legislation the House has produced have been dying in Harry Reid’s Senate, and the Senate hasn’t even passed a budget in over 1,050 days.
“We have to first put in the hard spending caps, instill the fiscal discipline that nobody can weasel out from. We need to make the Democrats acknowledge the problem and sit down with us and really start addressing these priorities. I do believe in the end it’s going to require a Constitutional Amendment” capping spending as a percentage of GDP.
He adds: “The bottom line is the president has proven that he’s not even willing to acknowledge the problem, much less work with us in good faith to solve it.”
Johnson says high oil prices “dramatically affect” national security by sapping our economy. “You cannot have strong national security if you are weak economically,” he states.
Referring to the campaign to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker over his budget cutting and dealings with public employee unions, Johnson comments: “I’m very hopeful that Governor Walker will survive that, and it’s incredibly important that he does.
“Here we have a governor and a group of legislators that had the courage to acknowledge the problem and then under repugnant levels of intimidation had the courage to make tough decisions, take the tough votes to solve the problem.”
And it would be terrible “if their reward for showing that courage is getting booted out of office” when similar courage is needed in Washington, he says.
“I think [Gov. Walker] agrees with me. We don’t want to underpay people that work for us in the public sector, but we can’t afford to overpay them. We have to make that case more forcefully.”
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