Childcare spending not your responsibility, senator? What fine Republican hypocrisy | Poppy Noor

4 months ago

Childcare spending not your responsibility, senator? What fine Republican hypocrisy | Poppy Noor

The Guardian

Ron Johnson, the US senator for hot takes, famed for such hits as “[the Capitol riot] seemed like a peaceful protest to me” and “mouthwash has been proven to kill the coronavirus”, is at it again. On Wednesday, Johnson, the senior Republican senator from Wisconsin, told local news station WKBT: “People decide to have families and become parents. That’s something they need to consider when they make that choice.”

He continued: “I’ve never really felt it was society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children.”

Notably, Johnson also believes it is his right to decide for a family whether or not they should have a child. He is vociferously anti-abortion, and last February co-sponsored a bill making it a criminal offense to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks.

When backing that bill, Johnson argued that society has an obligation to protect life – “especially the life of the most vulnerable among us – the unborn”.

Unintended pregnancies, it should be noted, are thought to cost the public billions every year. But when it comes to being a compassionate society in caring for those children, Johnson’s stance more closely resembles that of a deadbeat parent: happy to have the child but not to pay for it. He has argued that state subsidies like child tax credits are tantamount to social engineering. (The tax credits he vehemently opposed were received by 1.15 million families in Wisconsin and lifted 46,000 of them out of poverty, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.)

Outside of banning abortion, things Johnson does not consider social engineering include: trying to overturn an election; deporting thousands of migrant children by ending the Daca program; using his platform as a senator to invite fringe theorists to air unproved claims about coronavirus and vaccines.

Johnson tasted his own boot in October, when arguing against vaccine mandates. On the Senate floor, he declared: “[Some people] have chosen not to get the vaccine. You may not agree with that, but it’s not your body. It’s not your right to impose on someone else” – indicating that he might be pro-choice after all, just not when it doesn’t suit him.

In his latest interview, Johnson argued that rather than funding childcare, the US should force parents into work, so they can get “good jobs” to provide for their families. He does not explain how parents are supposed to do these jobs while looking after their children, considering that the lowest-paid workers in Wisconsin make little more than $18,000 per year, while average childcare costs in the state come up to $12,567 (the average Wisconsinite can’t afford childcare, either – not just the lowest paid).

Johnson, meanwhile, is a multimillionaire, and appears to have made much of his money by selling off his wife’s brother’s plastics manufacturing company – a company set up using family money.

Johnson has, in the past, aired his views about tax – arguing for a flat structure and no credits except business expenses. “I’m not a real fan of any types of credits, quite honestly, although that’s the system we’ve got. I just want to make sure it’s administrated fairly,” Johnson said.

But he doesn’t seem to be a fan of paying his own taxes. In 2017, Johnson, whose net worth is thought to be somewhere between $16.5m and $78.1m, paid $2,105 in tax – he paid about 30 times more in previous years. When asked how that figured, and whether Johnson would let the public be the judge of whether he’d paid fairly, Johnson’s press secretary replied: “The senator will not be providing media with his tax returns.”