John Frederick Kaufman: Does Wisconsin regret electing Senator Ron Johnson yet?

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Senator Ron Johnson, millionaire of Wisconsin, was returned to Congress by the good people of the state in 2016. Johnson was never a Never Trumper, so he was rewarded by the same voters who perhaps now regret thinking that billionaire Donald Trump would make a great president. Do Trumpitarians now regret sending Johnson back to the U.S. Senate?

Johnson, according to his Senate website, believes that “The United States has been the greatest force for good in the history of the world.” This is perhaps the greatest exaggeration in the history of the world, if one actually reads the history of the United States. The best things that have happened in the U.S. have been various liberal reforms of inhumane and arrogant behavior. Here are just a few events from U.S. history that were/are not “good”: slavery; cruelty toward Native Americans; racial segregation; imperialistic appropriation of various nations; denying women the right to vote until 1920; covert and overt military interventions that kill innocent people; proliferation of arms and weapons; pollution; capital punishment; the placing of Donald Trump in the White House; a system of health care that has been among the dumbest and cruelest in the free world which we have only lately managed to make more equitable and less cruel (ACA) but that Republicans keep trying to return to dumb cruelty again.

Since his arrival in Washington, D.C., our wealthy Senator Johnson has preached the Republican Gospel of Frugality Toward the Poor, in which national wealth is primarily to be dispensed to the national wealthy.

Sen. Johnson was an enthusiastic co-sponsor of the latest Republican attempt to erase the Affordable Care Act, thereby making American health care even less affordable and obtainable. Known as the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill, or Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (or simply The Apocalypse brought to you by four guys on high horses), the bill was dismissed by nearly the entire health care industry, many patient advocacy groups as well as a majority of Americans; the bill was not, let us say, a force for good. I use the past tense because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced this latest attempt of robbing the poor to give to the rich is dead. Fortunately, a few Republican senators miraculously keep refusing to embrace the necessary ignorance and perfidy required to kill the ACA.

Sen. Johnson, however, has no such moral qualms. During a “town hall meeting” in which there was no town and no hall, just a telephone connection to keep the disgruntled people of Wisconsin at bay, Sen. Johnson tried to explain why the latest Republican health care bill faltered. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson said: “When it came right down to the moment of truth, unfortunately far too many Republicans didn’t honor that promise, and in fact acted an awful lot like Democrats that they wanted to throw more money at the problem.”

The promise that Senate Republicans failed to honor was to pretty much return health care to its previous insurance-industry controlled, draconian state. It was a promise made long ago to health care lobbyists, corporations and wealthy political donors to whom the throwing of money has become the Holy Spirit of the Republican Party. Democrats, at least, want to throw some of the federal treasury at those more needy and deserving of the sort of health care the wealthy take for granted. And a small but growing group of Congressional Democrats are preparing the ground for something truly radical: Medicare for all.

More, not less, government funding of health care will provide Americans with access to something even more important than money: good, or better, health. Yes, funding single-payer would mean that the rich would have to become less rich and less powerful, but less wealth and power is likely better for one’s health. Less military spending would also help national and global health as well as reduce national debt.

As for Trump/Republican “tax reform,” (otherwise known as tax cuts almost entirely for the wealthy), Sen. Johnson is all for it, despite the plan increasing the national debt. To bring down the deficit, what’s needed, said Johnson, “is strong—and I mean strong—economic growth.” As past “trickle down” experiments have shown, the only real “economic growth” to occur from this tax cut will be in the reservoir-like bank accounts of people like Johnson and Trump. The rest of us will get the trickle.

If political regrets were legal tender, Wisconsin should be rich.

— Kaufman is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in The Progressive, Milwaukee Magazine, Capital Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, OtherWords.org and elsewhere.

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