Ron Johnson: Oh, good numbers. You know, the fact that this is ever going to reduce our deficit is a total fiction. When it was originally proposed, escorted by the CBO, they took six years’ worth of spending against 10 years’ worth of revenue generation and about $1.1 trillion of revenue generation and cost savings and about $938 billion’ worth of spending.
Now, what you need to understand is in that $1.1 trillion was about $529 billion’ worth of Medicare cost reductions. Now, we haven’t implemented the $208 billion of the sustainable growth rate formula because Congress actually understands that if we reduce payments to physicians, we’ll probably reduce the supply. We’ll probably reduce the access seniors have to medical care.
Does anybody really think we’re going to take $529 billion out of Medicare? That’s how much of a fiction that was. And then if you start moving the spending window forward, I mean the current window right now between 2013 and 2022, it’ll be about $1.7 trillion’ worth of actual spending. When it really kicks in about 2016 to 2025, now you’re looking about $2.5 trillion against — get rid of the Medicare savings because I don’t think that’s going to happen — somewhere between five or six or seven or $800 billion’ worth of revenue from the taxes, fees, and penalties.
And, again, as a business person, if you’re going to tax medical devices, if you’re going to tax drugs or going to tax insurance companies, I think they pass those costs along. So that revenue generation to the federal government is just going to get tacked right back into medical care. It doesn’t bend the cost curve down; it bends the cost curve up.
So this is going to destroy our budget, and I’m not even talking about yet about the tens of millions of people that will lose their employer-sponsored care. CBO said a million people would out of about 160 million people who get employer-sponsored care. I bought healthcare for 31 years. ObamaCare changes the equation from a standpoint if somebody buys insurance.
The equation now is do I try and comply with 15,000 pages of regulations where we’re at today, and they’ve only begun, 15,000, and then pay $20,000 for a family plan? Or do I pay the $2,000 penalty — and because of ObamaCare, I’m not exposing my employees to financial risk; I’m making them eligible for huge subsidies — $10,000 if you have household income of 64,000 bucks, which, by the way, is about $13,000 higher than the median income. What do you think people are going to do?
My guess is McKenzie and Company is probably right when they say 30 to 50% of employers today say they’re going to drop coverage. If that happens, by the way, that would be 80 million people times about an average subsidy 5 to $7,000. You’re looking at about 3, 4, $500 billion a year added cost to ObamaCare. So keep your fingers crossed on Justice Kennedy.
David Horowitz: We are often disappointed — understatement — with Republican leadership. Do they not understand the crisis the country is in, or are there other explanations?
Ron Johnson: Mike, what should I do here?
Unidentified Speaker: I’ll get your watch.
Ron Johnson: Wow. I don’t know how to say this without coming across like holier than thou. I think you all recognize the fact that we have in Washington just far too many politicians that don’t have any kind of real world experience, have never operated in the private sector. Their primary goal is to get reelected. It’s just a fact. Not necessarily bad people, but their whole upbringing, everything they’ve always wanted to do revolved around government.
And we were talking earlier with David, when I was meeting with him, conservatives, in particular, are at a huge disadvantage in the political arena. I mean a true conservative doesn’t want to have anything to do with government. You know, (inaudible).
Liberals, this is their lifelong ambition. This is what they strive to do. They want to control our lives. So, unfortunately, there are too many Republicans that are kind of like that, as well.
So that’s why I say we need to be proactive. We really do need to go out and find people that love this country, people like Mike, people that actually lived a full life, and that citizen legislator, that vision of our founding fathers, people who that are willing to go there for a short period of time and then go home. And I think that would make all the difference in the world, but that’s kind of my basic description of the problem.
David Horowitz: Senator Johnson, given their wisdom in sending you to the Senate, what is your sense of the Wisconsin electorate as to the upcoming recall election?
Ron Johnson: Well, I can report that certainly the people that elected me are every bit — every bit — as ginned up and enthusiastic and they’re going to come out to support people.
The one race we already had, the surrogate race, was the Supreme Court with David Prosser, and in every county except for Dane and Milwaukee, he basically outpolled both Scott Walker and I from a percentage standpoint.
So the election is really going to turn on Dane County and Milwaukee County. Dane County is where Madison is, the people’s republic.
And the good news is the election’s going to take place in June. A lot of college kids go home, so we won’t be able — you won’t get their votes. I mean it’s just basic fact.
And the other fact is that Scott Walker’s reforms are working. I mean the fellow that he’s going to run against, probably Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, utilized his reforms to save Milwaukee $24 million. I think that will be brought up in the campaign.
But district after district, school district after school district, city government after city government was able to balance their budget, save millions of dollars on the healthcare because they didn’t have to buy it through the teacher union healthcare, which was filling the teacher union’s coffers, and it’s actually had success. People’s property tax rates went down.
So if we can run an intelligent campaign, as Scott does, and there’s — Pat Caddell was here earlier talking about some pretty interesting focus groups (inaudible) doing, if we run the race intelligently, I’m hopeful, but it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be close.
David Horowitz: Entitlements seem to be the biggest budget issues. Can they be solved, and how?
Ron Johnson: Now, from my standpoint, this is a two-step process. Again, what I said earlier, we’ve got to inform, we’ve got to persuade, we’ve got to win the argument, and then we’ve got to legislate. I think way too many people in Washington go right for that bill because they want their name slapped on it to help them get reelected.
To me, we win. It’s a winning argument. This is our home field advantage when we talk to the American people about how unsustainable our debt and deficit is. So if we fight the battle to basically cut up America’s credit card, to instill the tough fiscal discipline, and we’ve got the CAP Act, which caps spending statutorily as a percentage of GDP and starts putting on a glide path to equal revenue generation. We passed Cut, Cap and Balance, which basically did that. Had way too short a shelf life, but within three days sitting in the Senate, it has 66% support in the American public, 74% for a constitutional amendment.
So I think we need to, first, instill that fiscal discipline to force the other side to come to the bargaining table because that’s basically the story of 2011. President Obama was not negotiating in good faith. He didn’t want to do a deal. We just kind of suckered right into that thing. All the secret negotiations. We gave President Obama credibility when he deserved zero credibility.
I mean think what Mike said. He lost the other day zero to 414. Last year in the Senate, he lost zero to 97. That is a stunning repudiation of his total lack of leadership, and that’s something we’ve got to continue to point out to the American public.
So in terms of — so getting to entitlements, you’ve got to put that first step, you’ve put the fiscal discipline. Then the other process thing I think you need to do is put everything on budget, everything, and the entitlements you’ve got to make sure that they have got 75-year solvency. Require that out of Congress, and then people are going to have to come to the table and you’re going to have to start negotiating.
But if we just throw out our proposal, we lose. That’s their home field advantage. When we go with specific spending cuts, the American public is very schizophrenic. Say, “Yeah, we realize we’ve got a spending problem. Limit us, but, boy, don’t cut my program.” So you’ve got to do it in stages. That’s my opinion anyway.
David Horowitz: How do you feel about a flat tax and term limits?
Ron Johnson: I would personally like to mount a Grover Norquist type effort this election — I’ve talked to people about this — requiring every member of Congress running for federal office to sign a term-limit pledge, not a pledge, though, a pledge to vote for a specific term limit bill.
Now, what we have to do, though, what we have to do, is we have to design a reasonable term limit bill. We’ve got to hit that sweet spot. I don’t have the exact answer on it.
I’m a co-sponsor of Jim DeMint’s. I think it’s too limiting, and Mike, I’d like to work with you on something like that. But to me, that’s a huge winning issue.
In terms of flat tax, I’m willing to do — I’ve got a very flexible mind in terms of basic tax reform. Two principles – let’s raise the money we need and do no economic harm. Let’s not do social engineering. Let’s not do economic engineering. Let’s just simply raise the tax and do no economic harm. If that’s the principles going to dramatic tax reform, I think that’s how you’d get dramatic tax reform.
David Horowitz: This is the final one, how to restore our constitutional principles and basic values.
Ron Johnson: Well, Robert mentioned that I’ve begun to do what Dave has done, go on to college campuses. We have to win back the hearts and minds of the young people. We just do.
Our education system has totally failed. This is exactly what David has been — certainly taught me is what the left has done is they’ve taken over our universities. We capitulated back in the ’60s, conservatives did. And so from — they totally control the entire university, but the particular levers of power, the colleges of education, law and journalism and economics, they control the culture.
Now, when you go back to universities and you talk to them, unfortunately, the press has so degraded things like the tea party movement. I didn’t join the tea party caucus because I realized marketing-wise the press has done a pretty good job of painting tea party folks as crazies. They’re not. They’re good, hard-working, honest, tax-paying, God-loving Americans.
Unfortunately, we’ve gotten to a point in this country if you also say, “I’m a constitutionalist,” also, you’ve got a tin-foil hat on. We don’t have to say that necessarily.
What I did in my speech at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is I talked about our founding documents like a business person would. So to me, the letter of intent is Declaration of Independence. The Constitution, that’s the contract. And I can’t think of a better vision for America than, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among those are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.”
Now, if you speak those words to a college crowd and do it accurately, do it slowly, ask them to think about it, talk about 235 years ago, those words were revolutionary. Yet, our founders called them self-evident because they are. And point out to young people that another foundation and premise of this nation is contained in that letter of intent, in that powerful vision, that mission statement. It’s that these rights are ours. They’re not the governments. They’re granted to us. They’re endowed to us by our creator. Do not give them away.
I think if we do that, I think if we have a pointed strategy of winning back the hearts and minds of young people, rely on their propensity to rebel, we just might win them back. God bless you. Thank you.
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