Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Senator who made jaws drop by simultaneously promoting skepticism about Covid vaccines suggest that gargling with mouthwash could help fight the virus, is running for re-election after promising to step down at the end of his current term.
Johnson broke his promise not with an apologetic announcement in the state the scandal-plagued Republican was supposed to represent — and where breaking the term limit promise would certainly brand him as a political perjurer — but in his political safe space on the comment pages of the in Australian-born media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal.
There with the heading “Why I am seeking a third term in the Senate‘ and the caption ‘I’d like to retire, but I think the country is in too much danger,’ Johnson falsely apologized for his shame:
During the 2016 campaign, I said that this would be my last campaign and term. That was my strong preference and that of my wife – we both looked forward to a normal personal life. None of us anticipated the full Democrat takeover of government and the disastrous policies they have already imposed on America and the world, let alone those they threaten in the future.
Wisconsinites, who had taken notice of Johnson’s lies during his first term as a stamp on Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have always been skeptical of the millionaire politician’s 2016 promise to give up his seat in 2022. Johnson was already showing signs of an addiction to the limelight. He particularly liked it when Donald Trump turned that spotlight on him (the senator once suggested that he and the 45thThe Ronald and the Donald‘) and Fox News hosts like Maria Bartiromo, whose Sunday morning show the senator chose as the venue an exclusive television interview after the publication of his announcement by the screed Diary.
Most senators begin their re-election runs by holding press conferences in the communities they serve and giving interviews to their hometown newspapers.
But not Ron Johnson. Why so?
Then The Wall Street Journal is in every respect the home newspaper of this political careerist.
Johnson identifies as representing Wisconsin, a politically divided state that is expected to be the scene of one of the most hotly contested races for control of the Senate in 2022.
But the senator really represents Wall Street and the investor class that has no allegiance to states or nations. He was an ardent supporter of Wall Street-backed “free trade deals” and outsourcing programs, a gut feeling union critics and regulations that protect workers and consumers, and most importantly a proponent of tax breaks for the super-rich and the companies they control.
“He’s not a fiscal conservative, he’s a corrupt errand boy for the super-rich.” says Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, a Democrat running against Johnson.
In the past year, Johnson has made so many headlines for his propagation of conspiracy theories and extreme pronouncements that it’s easy to imagine him being a Senate version of wacky House members like Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene. Like Greene, he gets into bizarre fights that not only reveal that he has the wrong mind, but also that he is exceptionally thin-skinned. For example, after Johnson said he would have been more concerned if the insurgents who attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 had been Black Lives Matter activists and Holocaust scholars Deborah Lipstadt tweeted, “This is white supremacy/nationalism. Plain and simple.” That was an undeniable point. However, after months of delays in light of President Biden’s appointment of the internationally renowned scholar to the appointment of the internationally renowned academic as the US State Department’s antisemitism officer, The New York Times reports, “Republicans should think about Dr. to ask Lipstadt to publicly apologize to Mr Johnson before proceeding with their nomination.”
But Johnson, far more than others in Trump’s circle of acolytes, avoids criticism of the billionaire class and multinational corporations. His primary duty as a senator was and is serving the riches.
Johnson, who made his fortune by marrying into a wealthy family, has historically made serving the investor class his top priority. He bought his seat in the Senate with a generous disbursement of family funds and contributions from other wealthy families in 2010, he made his way to Washington to cut his own taxes, cut regulations for businesses like his family’s, and generally serve the billionaires who funded his re-election bid in 2016 and are already writing checks for the 2022 race.
Johnson is so committed to doing the bidding of the elites that it is the only issue on which he will break with benefactors like Trump and McConnell. That’s what happened in 2017, when Trump and his congressional allies pushed for approval of the new president’s tax cut plan for the ultra-rich. Trump’s plan for a $1.5 trillion giveaway to the billionaire class was exactly the kind of Wall Street-backed initiative Johnson had dutifully backed since his Senate election 2010 as the most boring member of this year’s “Republican Wave”. But the Wisconsinite announced that he opposed the proposal.
In fact, the historically unremarkable senator became the vigorous face of opposition to Trump’s plan.
ONE Pro Publica The Inquiry into the 2017 tax cut campaign recalled, “The Wisconsin Republican made the rounds on cable television and became the first GOP senator to declare his opposition, spooking Senate leaders who were pushing to pass the tax bill quickly with their slim majority.” “If they can do it without me, let them,” Johnson explained.
What happened? Would Ron Johnson really turn a plan on its head to make rich people like him richer? No. He only negotiated to make his wealthy campaign donors even richer. According to that Pro Publica report:
Johnson’s demand was simple: In exchange for his vote, the bill must sweeten the tax break for a class of companies known as pass-throughs, as profits are passed on to their owners. Johnson praised such companies as “innovation engines”. Behind the scenes, the senator urged senior Treasury officials on the issue, Officials’ emails and calendars Show.
Within two weeks, Johnson’s ultimatum yielded results. Trump personally called the senator to ask for his support, and the bill’s authors fattened the tax cut for these companies. Johnson switched to a “yes” and claimed credit for the change. The bill was accepted.
Why did Johnson fight so hard against a president for whom he was generally willing to demean himself as the most willing lapdog in the Senate Republican faction? At the time, the Wisconsin media speculated that “Johnson wants a bigger tax cut for himself.” There was certainly something to that argument. But it turns out Johnson wasn’t just thinking about himself in this particular case.
Confidential tax records obtained from Pro Publica revealed
that Johnson’s last-minute move benefited two families more than almost anyone else in the country — both worth billions and both among the senator’s biggest donors. Dick and Liz Uihlein of packaging giant Uline, along with roofing magnate Diane Hendricks, had jointly donated around $20 million to groups supporting Johnson’s 2016 reelection campaign. The expanded tax break Johnson pushed through earned them $215 million in deductions in 2018 alone, drastically reducing the income they owed taxes on. At that rate, the cut could yield more than half a billion in tax savings for Hendricks and the Uihleins over its eight-year term.
Another of the Democrats set to challenge the senator in 2022, Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, summed things up succinctly when he observed, “Ron Johnson used his office to enrich some of his wealthiest campaign donors while he… Increased middle-class taxes and the income inequality gap.”
The senator’s machinations had nothing to do with Wisconsin. While Hendricks retains a residency in the state, the Uihleins live in Lake Forest, Illinois.
But Ron Johnson doesn’t care. He could care less about the working people of Milwaukee or Madison, Oshkosh or Kenosha. He represents the global class of billionaires wherever they live. They fund his campaigns and he delivers for them. So when Ron Johnson wants to communicate with his actual constituents, he addresses them through the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal.