NEWS & DOCUMENTARIES | HERE AND NOW TRANSCRIPT

Frederica Freyberg:
Our next guest wants Senator Feingold's job. If he survives the September primary, he'll have a shot at it. A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to one of the Republican primary candidates for US senate, Dave Westlake. Tonight, Oshkosh businessman and primary candidate Ron Johnson joins us from Oshkosh, and thanks very much for doing so.

Ron Johnson:
Thanks for having me.

Frederica Freyberg:
Is it actually true that you decided to run for US senate after watching Fox News and Dick Morris put out a call for a rich guy from Wisconsin?

Ron Johnson:
No, that's kind of a cute little story, but bottom line, what made me decide to run is I watched what was happening in terms of all the spending and the debt, the really unsustainable nature of that. And then when they passed the healthcare bill, which I also believe is just a huge budget buster on top of a totally broken budget. There's very serious issues going on in this country, that's why I decided to run.

Frederica Freyberg:
What's your first budget deficit-busting move?

Ron Johnson:
Well, the first thing I'd like to do is I'd like to repeal the healthcare bill. That will be, as you say, a huge budget buster. I relate it back to when they passed Medicare back in 1965, they estimated 25 years out in the future into 1990 that Medicare would cost $12 billion. In fact, it cost $111 billion, ten times the original estimate. I think that we'll see similar results from the healthcare bills. So like you say, we already have a horribly broken budget. We are spending way too much money, incurring way too much debt, and the healthcare entitlement would just add to that and it's going to be extremely difficult to solve the problem when we heap additional entitlements on top of that.

Frederica Freyberg:
Just trying to get to know you a little bit. I know I've read that your kind of foundational book is "Atlas Shrugged." And the theme there is this idea of kind of looters and moochers against the people who make the wealth, the productive class. Is it that -- for you?

Ron Johnson:
I think it is certainly one of the things that we're concerned about. One of the concerns I had when President Obama was elected, had we reached that tipping point where people contributing into the system versus those taking from the system, those receiving the benefits. Were the producers being outnumbered by the people receiving the benefits? And that's a dangerous situation, dangerous scenario for any society, quite honestly.

Frederica Freyberg:
In this economic climate where we've got expenditures of things like unemployment insurance and programs to help the poor, are you opposed to those kinds of things?

Ron Johnson:
Quite honestly, one of the economic advisors to President Obama actually wrote a paper or made statements a few years ago talking about the extension of unemployment benefits actually prolongs unemployment. When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don't have the incentive to go take other jobs. They'll just wait the system out until their benefits run out, then they'll go out and take, probably not as high paying jobs as they'd like to take, but that's really how you have to get back to work. You have to take the work that's available at the wage rates that's available.

Frederica Freyberg:
Representative Sensenbrenner is saying today that "an apparent lack of regulatory oversight is partly to blame for the BP oil disaster." Would you concur with that?

Ron Johnson:
That's probably true. To a certain extent it's money --. This is probably, again, I really do not know what caused that, I'm not sure we know. Being a manufacturer, though, the first thing when something goes wrong, what you do is you do a root-cause analysis. You go figure out what went wrong and then you come up with a solution to prevent it from happening in the future. Life is not risk-free. So that would be my recommendation. Take the time, first of all, we have to stop the flow. And we have to quite honestly rely on the expertise in the oil industry. Those are the folks we have to rely on to solve this problem. And then honestly we're going to have to work folks to come up with a solution to make sure it never happens again.

Frederica Freyberg:
What I'm trying to kind of get at is the idea of regulations from the government. Presumably you would like those streamlined.

Ron Johnson:
I would like effective regulation. I am not knee-jerk anti-government by any means. I'm a small to medium businessperson, okay? I do want the government to regulate things, for example, monopolistic practices. The government's role is to protect the free market system, to protect its citizens. So I'm by no means anti-government, but I think we want effective government and effective regulation and I think that's, as government gets larger and larger, I think it becomes more and more difficult for the government functions to be effective. And in the case of the MMS, which is the regulatory agency that was in charge of this, they weren't effective, and that probably is true.

Frederica Freyberg:
How would you change the way we tax people and businesses?

Ron Johnson:
I think we are in a global economic environment here. And capital will flow to where capital can make the most money. So I think we always have to, in business you benchmark. You benchmark sales, you benchmark your costs. I think as governments we also have to benchmark, what are our tax rates? How does that relate to other countries in terms of attracting capital? So I think we have to be extremely mindful of the fact that currently, for example, corporate income tax, and I don't take corporate income tax, my business is an LLC, we pay the personal income tax. But the corporate tax rate is higher in the US than it is anywhere else in the world and that is not good from a standpoint of capital flow into jobs in America.

Frederica Freyberg:
We need to leave it there. Ron Johnson, we appreciate you joining us. We will have you back with luck for a debate or two. Thanks very much.

Ron Johnson:
Thanks for having me, appreciate it.

Here and Now
 

2010 Senate Race
Friday, June 11, 2010

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Republican senate candidate Ron Johnson speaks with Here and Now about his positions on a variety of issues.


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