Sen. Ron Johnson makes rare appearance in Madison

2013-08-29T09:55:00Z Sen. Ron Johnson makes rare appearance in MadisonJESSICA VANEGEREN | The Capital Times | jvanegeren@madison.com madison.com

Nearly halfway through his six-year term as Wisconsin’s freshman U.S. senator, there is little Ron Johnson says that strays from the conservative, tea party message that got him elected to office.

He stayed true to that message Wednesday when he was the keynote speaker at the Downtown Madison Rotary Club meeting, making a rare visit to the state’s most progressive city.

Johnson joked about not being in his political element, telling the audience "I’m hoping there may be a few on the right-hand side" here.

Then he launched into a familiar PowerPoint presentation that he described as “depressing,” describing the federal government’s spiral into debt and overspending over the past 100 years.

“We've got way too many people in Washington who don’t want to admit we have a spending problem,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the $17 trillion in federal debt is putting the American dream of prosperity at risk. He said that figure amounts to roughly $52,000 per American, an amount that will only grow for the country’s youngest generation.

“I just want to grab America by the lapels and say, ‘Do you understand what you are doing to your kids?’” said Johnson, his fists clenched and shaking at the audience.

Johnson did have positive words about a dinner he and other conservatives in Congress shared with President Barack Obama, saying the conversations were “honest and frank.”

Johnson said everyone has good intentions when deciding the federal government should grow, for example, by providing more services and getting involved in financing college educations. And he sympathized with college graduates who are hamstrung with tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt.

“Did all of our good intentions create harm?” he wondered.

He said those who want to stay out of poverty have the best chances of doing so if they graduate from high school, don’t get addicted to drugs and alcohol and don’t get pregnant out of wedlock.

When asked by an audience member during a question-and-answer session following his speech if he thought human activity was contributing to climate change, Johnson said, “I don’t have a belief on that either way.”

Johnson was also asked about a statement he made in a fundraising letter that accused the League of Conservation Voters of engaging in "environmental jihad."

The statement followed the first of two ads the league ran that criticized the senator for accepting roughly $109,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry and opposing measures aimed at controlling global warming.

“I view myself as an environmentalist,” Johnson said. “But when you support policies that would cripple the economy... I consider those extreme policies. I care about the price of gas and the cost of energy.”

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(30) Comments

  1. davea
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    davea - August 30, 2013 8:42 am
    Ronny bought his election!
  2. davea
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    davea - August 30, 2013 8:41 am
    Wisconsin's "Three Stooges"!
  3. davea
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    davea - August 30, 2013 8:30 am
    But such an embarassment to Wisconsin!
  4. farming
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    farming - August 29, 2013 10:20 pm
    All the people in Madison that cannot stand Ron Johnson and he still beat russ feingold.
  5. Miles to go
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    Miles to go - August 29, 2013 10:11 pm
    What would the national debt look like if it were pro rated based on wealth since the top 20% control 87% of the wealth in the country. Household wealth in 2009 was estimated at $54.2 trillion with the top 20% controlling $47 trillion. When pro rated, the median rather than the average national debt per individual is probably something like $2,000 or $3,000. But oh wait, that's not so scary is it.
  6. Argyle
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    Argyle - August 29, 2013 5:35 pm
    Johnson is a a "businessman" who married his money. He's a politician who got elected by NOT telling people his positions. Even his home town newspaper wouldn't endorse him because he refused an interview. He never shows his face to his constituents for fear he'll hear the truth.
    He'd be in the running for dumbest elected representative in Washington but Louie Gohmert has a lock on the title.
  7. twm
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    twm - August 29, 2013 4:37 pm
    Real world? What are you talking about? The article said he’s coming to MADISON.
  8. digger
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    digger - August 29, 2013 3:56 pm
    Wisconsin, we can be proud. The three dingo's talk loudly but say little. Rock Star Scottie, Ronnie, and Paulie rehearse weekly with the Koch twins!
  9. snow
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    snow - August 29, 2013 3:13 pm
    You forgot to mention a few other things.
    1) It is illegal for the average citizen to take advantage of a stock tip, but okay for legislators
    2) Look how many laws have been passed in the last 30 years to allow the rich to become richer while everyone else stays the same or poor, ie 30 years ago, People like Romney, ie the rich would not have been paying only 14% of tax while the everyone else pays a in a higher tax bracket
  10. concerned_citizen
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    concerned_citizen - August 29, 2013 1:42 pm
    watch this awesome 2 and half minute video on climate change
    hilarious!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efAUCG9oTb8
  11. Marvin Levy
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    Marvin Levy - August 29, 2013 12:52 pm
    The answer to our problems is simply raise taxes. Right?
  12. johnnybragatti
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    johnnybragatti - August 29, 2013 12:21 pm
    Ron Johnson has many friends in talk radio.The Rockers and Country....not so much.
  13. Harvey
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    Harvey - August 29, 2013 11:20 am
    I have a right wing tea party member who works for me. I got tired of him (and only him) asking for more money or advances on his pay (some of which I granted). Finally, I told him he didn't have a revenue problem. He had a spending problem. He hasn't been back to ask for money since.
  14. Crow Barr
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    Crow Barr - August 29, 2013 11:18 am
    Wasn't #ourdumbsenator ron johnsons twitter account?
  15. Harvey
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    Harvey - August 29, 2013 11:17 am
    I am an environmentalist. I have friends who are environmentalists. And from your last statement in the article sir, you are no environmentalist.
  16. Harvey
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    Harvey - August 29, 2013 11:15 am
    Sen. Johnson is very very very worried about the debt we will leave our kids. But when it comes to the quality of the air they will breath, food they will eat and water they will drink . . not so much.
  17. uisnotnormal
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    uisnotnormal - August 29, 2013 10:47 am
    Oh but he is told what to say by the Koch brothers. You know Satans Brothers
  18. Andy Olsen
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    Andy Olsen - August 29, 2013 10:41 am
    Here is another example where Sen Johnson's myopic concern for spending ignores public safety needs such as protecting the food supply.

    Food parasite probe hindered by budget deficiencies
    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/food-parasite-probe-hindered-by-budget-deficiencies-96028.html?hp=r5

    "Federal authorities are struggling to explain why 600 people in 22 states have fallen ill from a foodborne parasite rarely seen in the United States.
    But some officials are ready to finger one culprit that has hindered their investigation: the sequester.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has had to slash $285 million at a time when food and health experts say disease detection needs more funding as these type of food outbreak cases become more complex and widespread."
  19. Andy Olsen
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    Andy Olsen - August 29, 2013 10:39 am
    Senator Johnson has a blindered and heavily slanted view of global warming costs and the costs of climate action.

    Global warming, itself, imposes high costs on the economy, as well imposing costs in terms of increased human disease, death and dislocation. We are already experiencing those costs and they will just get worse.

    Meanwhile, Johnson vastly exaggerates the cost of climate action. This has been the stock response to environmental protection of all kinds from those who care only about Big Business. They always run around crying "the sky is falling" and their costs are always proven to be wildly exaggerated while they underestimate ingenuity applied to solve these probrmas. Granted, the fossil energy concerns that he flacks for will take a hit - BUT WISCONSIN HAS NO FOSSIL FUELS IN OUR GROUND. Who is he representing?

    Johnson's lack of vision says America cannot rise to the challenge, cannot innovate, cannot lead and that the only way we can succeed is to pollute. He is wrong.
  20. Wis_BlogRider
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    Wis_BlogRider - August 29, 2013 10:20 am
    Are you a Ron Johnson supporter? Let him talk so everyone can see what a dead brain he is.
  21. iponder
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    iponder - August 29, 2013 10:14 am
    Ron who?
  22. davea
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    davea - August 29, 2013 9:45 am
    I just wish when he appears in public, he'd keep his mouth shut!
  23. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - August 29, 2013 9:03 am
    Credit where it's due. A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Ron Johnson never appears in public, only for photo ops before carefully screened groups of right-wingers already predisposed to agree with everything he says.

    I'm glad to have been proven wrong. Welcome out of your bubble into the real world, Sen. Johnson. Keep it up.
  24. koala
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    koala - August 29, 2013 8:42 am
    Amen.
  25. koala
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    koala - August 29, 2013 8:39 am
    I meant to type "especially the last 30 years." Sorry about the typo.
  26. koala
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    koala - August 29, 2013 8:38 am
    Ron Johnson has either just had a radical change of opinion re climate change – or continues to be an outright LIAR on this subject.

    Last night, as reported, he stated that he has no opinion on whether human activity causes climate change.

    Yet our senator has clearly said, in the recent past, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal, that:

    “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination.”

    Johnson described believers in manmade causes of climate change as “crazy” and the theory as “lunacy.”

    “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time."

    The last bit is especially laughable and illustrates Johnson's utter ignorance re the subject; the sunspot cycle only involves a 0.5% variation in solar output and is cyclical, and so cannot possibly account for the large increase in global temperatures over the last century and especially the last year.

    Let's leave aside the "gotcha" aspect of this story. Global and local climate change is going to have an enormous, largely negative impact ecologically and economically. That is a fact, no matter what climate-change deniers may pretend. Do we really want a know-nothing, Tea-Party ideologist representing us and helping set national policy re climate change?
  27. davea
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    davea - August 29, 2013 8:29 am
    Environmentalists protect the envirinment. Shouldn't expect out "dumb senator" to understand the defintion of such a big word though! Like I've said before, a person should place brain in gear before operating mounth, but in Ronny's case it wouldn't help!
  28. noside
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    noside - August 29, 2013 8:23 am
    That bulb is low wattage.
  29. spooky tooth
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    spooky tooth - August 29, 2013 8:22 am
    Suggesting the way out of to poverty is to graduate from high school, don't get addicted to drugs or pregnant out of wedlock is another Right Wing lie. These things won't hurt, but it won't keep you out of poverty. To stay out of poverty in the US we need changes.

    (1) International trade deals that don't force American workers to compete with slave labor.
    (2) Minimum Wage Laws: If Walmart paid a living wage their average customer would spend an extra 46 cents per trip. At McDonalds the price of a Big Mac would go up about a nickel.
    (3) Stop profitable companies from using unpaid or very low paid interns and 90 day contracts to keep wages low with no benefits.
    (4) Corporations have to pay taxes.
    (5) The wealthiest 1% saw their wealth double over the past 30 years, they have to pay up.(6) Go after every super rich tax cheat that hides money in foreign bank accounts.
    (7) Tax Capital Gains the same as ordinary income.
    (8) Never ever let another neocon near the White House again.
  30. Nav
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    Nav - August 29, 2013 6:12 am
    I am sure Senator Johnson got the heck out of Madison ASAP. People like him are truly afraid to be in areas where they know they are going to be exposed.
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