Senator Johnson Waxes Nostalgic Anti-Populism

By Thomas Heaney

Canned response attempts to justify vote for Blunt Amendment

I have written previously about the uselessness of Senator Ron Johnson [R-WI], my Senator, when it comes to addressing the real needs of the citizens of Wisconsin. He ran on a platform of job creation, bragging in advance about all the jobs he would create as Senator. During the campaign Sen. Johnson cited his private sector accounting experience and ownership of a manufacturing firm as reasons to vote for him as a job creator. To date Ron Johnson has done nothing legislatively to promote job growth, authoring no legislation and voting against economic stimulus at every turn.

His focus seems to have drifted away from the economy generally and specifically away from the Wisconsin economy. In fact, private sector jobs have been added outside of Wisconsin. These states don’t suffer from the truly job-killing, stifling Republican obstructionism where Tea Party governors actively work to sabotage the President’s efforts by thwarting the use of federal stimulus dollars and slashing salaries and jobs held by public employees. Less money flowing, by spending of employees public and private, locally means fewer jobs in the local economy and supporting infrastructure. Ultimately, this creates a more difficult, slower road to recovery. It would seem that was, and is, the Republican plan for the economy until the next election.

Recently, there have been a slew of state and federal sex regulations offered up simultaneously, as if in response to some crisis. The timing of all this is entirely political. It certainly isn’t being driven by constituent demand.

I recently emailed Senator Johnson objecting to his vote in favor of the Blunt Amendment. I’m showing his response below to highlight just how out of touch he and the Tea Party really are. For the record, the Blunt Amendment was not a protection of religious freedom, no matter what Senator Johnson claims. “Obama Care” is not a proper way to refer to the health care reforms Ron Johnson wishes to repeal. The paternalistic tone taken by the Senator is disrespectful, as he leads with his own misbegotten conclusions about contraception as if this self-proclaimed economic guru were also an authority on issues of morality as it pertains to public policy related to health care. The idea that something like the Blunt Amendment is even needed is, itself, misguided.

Apparently, Republicans are attempting to energize their religious right base by ginning up charges of religious intolerance. That’s really misguided.

I won’t have a chance to vote Senator Johnson out of office for another four years. However, Tammy Baldwin, my current US Congressional Representative is running for US Senate and will have my vote for Senator in the seat vacated by the retiring Herb Kohl [D-WI].  Maybe she’ll be able to talk some sense into Senator Johnson. Then again, he may hear the kind of language only well-paid lobbyists speak. The Senator’s email to me is below:

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the controversy surrounding the Obama Administration’s misguided attempts to pursue a contraception-focused health care coverage mandate and on Senate Bill 1467, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).  The administration’s plans have generated an enormous amount of backlash and this bill would allow employers to decline coverage of services that conflict with religious beliefs.  

On January 20, 2012, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius finalized regulations for preventive services under Obamacare that require organizations affiliated with churches to provide and pay for health products and services that are contrary to their beliefs and religious teachings.  This mandate violates the principle of religious freedom and represents the tip of the iceberg of future assaults on our freedom if Obamacare is fully implemented.

This is not about denying women access to health care or contraceptives.  This bill simply protects the religious freedom of millions of individuals, and the religious institutions to which they belong, that are central to their unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was received a vote on the Senate floor as an amendment to another bill on March 1st, 2012 and although I voted in support of this amendment, it failed 51-48.  I will continue to support legislation seeking to protect our constitutional right to religious freedom. 

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts.  It is important for me to hear the views and concerns of the people I serve.  Since taking office, I have received over 400,000 pieces of correspondence and have had over 200,000 participants in live forums and telephone town hall meetings.  Please feel free to contact me in the future if I can further assist you or your family.  It is an honor representing you and the good people of Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.

Ron Johnson
United States Senator

It turns out Ron Johnson is just as off base when it comes to women’s rights, religious freedom, health care and reproductive rights as he is about the economy and job creation. He is proving himself to be both an anti-Populist and a 1-percenter. As such, he is not part of any solution to creating the opportunity society we so sorely need. He is instead a big part of the problem.

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