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One-on-One with Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson

He talked COVID-19 relief, impeachment, minimum wage and if he’ll seek a third term in 2022.
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 9:34 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - “Will you support a Trump run for president in 2024?” It’s just one of the many questions NBC15 asked in a one-on-one with Republican Senator Ron Johnson.

He talked COVID relief, impeachment, minimum wage and if he’ll seek a third term in 2022.

Minimum wage

“I’m not opposed to a modest increase in minimum wage and index it with inflation.”

Sen. Johnson said he supports an increase from the current $7.25 minimum wage; however, he can’t support $15 dollars an hour like his Democratic counterparts. He said it’s too risky and could cost jobs.

“A lot will just lose their jobs – just completely loose the job or businesses could be put out of business which is not a good thing when you are trying to come out of the COVID recession,” Johnson said. “Or people would be replaced, maybe in the short-term with automation. So, you do need to completely understand what the impact is on such a dramatic change.”

When asked what dollar amount he would be comfortable with, Johnson didn’t get specific.

“Again, you really have to take a look at what the number of people would be affected by it,” he said. “I would really want to talk with some real economic experts to get this- I’m looking into this right now. I’ve got the data. I’ve got the charts. But I really want to discuss with my colleagues and other experts.”

COVID-19 Relief

“We’ve already passed $4.5 trillion of COVID relief,” the senator said. “That’s a large percentage of last year’s economy. It should have been way more than we needed and more than enough.”

Sen. Johnson said anyone who is proposing another $1-2 trillion should take a look at what wasn’t done right with the first $4.5 trillion. He says a compromise would be targeting relief.

“I don’t deny people are still suffering and they haven’t gotten relief, that’s an issue when you’ve already allocated $4.5 trillion, so I’ve been arguing from the last couple of packages we need to do a far better job targeting the relief to people who really need it.”

An example he gave was the direct payment checks.

“The Federal Reserve Bank in New York did a study, 18% of those initial direct payment checks went for essential expenditures. The rest was either saved or paid down consumer debt. It wasn’t stimulative and it wasn’t directed to those people who truly needed it.”

He said it was sent to a lot of people who were fully employed who had no loss in income, but it has “cost close to a half trillion dollars”.

“We don’t have an unlimited checking account.”

Something he would like to see done is to direct money to those who haven’t been helped– no unemployment payments or assistance was too low, he said.

Impeachment

“We shouldn’t have an impeachment right now.”

Johnson said he believes it is unconstitutional. He acknowledges there are arguments on both sides, but believes the Senate should not be holding a trial to impeach a private citizen which is “what former President Trump is right now.”

He said in putting aside the question of its constitutionality, he asks a different question, “Is it wise to do so?”

“I was at President Biden’s Inauguration,” Johnson said. “I heard his words. But actions speak a lot louder than words. Is an impeachment trial going to heal this nation? Is that going to help unite us?”

He said the answer is obvious. It wont do any of that. He called it vindictive and decisive.

“If President Biden actually believes the words he spoke at his Inauguration, he’d be asking Harry Reid and his colleagues in the Senate on the democratic side to dismiss this trial.”

We asked, would you support former President Trump if he decided to run in 2024?

“That’s a hypothetical question.”

He said what he supports is allowing the voters to decide that question. Johnson pointed out on Jan. 6, he said he joined in a collective decision by Congress that members of Congress should not overrule the wishes of the voters or state electors.

“It’s just not wise to do that,” he said. “Why would we think it’s wise to now preemptively overrule the future wishes of the voters? It makes no sense whatsoever.”

A third term in 2022?

“I haven’t made that decision yet.”

He said he personally doesn’t feel under pressure to make that decision anytime soon.

“I’ll take all the steps I need to take in case I do decide to run or setup the structure required to have somebody else win this Senate seat as a Republican.”

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