It is a tall order to earn the title of "Worst U.S. Senator" in the current environment, but Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is certainly making a fine run for the honor.
Today Johnson attacked Americans from sea to shining sea by at least temporarily sabotaging a bipartisan plan to provide everyone $1,200 stimulus checks. Johnson's acts of principle are customarily confined to such causes as carrying out dirty political tricks in Ukraine, dispelling the hoax of climate change and fighting against people getting health care. But he has added a new one to his repertoire: Blocking help to citizens in a pandemic.
As Axios reported earlier in the day, Johnson used U.S. Senate rules to personally block a bipartisan effort championed by fellow right-wing Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri -- working across the aisle with Senator Bernie Sanders -- that would have provided the $1,200 payments by unanimous consent.
Not so fast, said Johnson, dismissing the idea as "mortgaging our children's future," according to Business Insider and other sources. Hey, why worry about the present for the children of people we don't even know?
"The response from Johnson despite his support for the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, along with a more recent $741 billion defense budget — typified the clunky return many in the GOP have been making to fiscal conservatism as President Donald Trump heads out of office. The federal debt rose by $7 trillion during Trump's tenure and is now $27 trillion," Business Insider noted.
Johnson certainly isn't alone among Republicans offended at the notion of writing stimulus checks to people not limited to the 74 million or so Americans who failed to re-elect Trump. But he was the one willing to take the stand earlier today against the bipartisan senators.
It quickly earned Johnson the scorn he so richly deserved.
"Senator says $1,200 checks would be 'mortgaging our children's future'" Now there's a face even Gandhi would pun… https://t.co/hX0VidmvTr— Craig Rozniecki (@Craig Rozniecki)1608321961.0
Sen. Ron Johnson had a net worth over 10 million two years ago, I’m sure that amount has only increased since. Russ… https://t.co/eHkUZJTZRi— NoelCaslerComedy (@NoelCaslerComedy)1608324893.0
Washington, DC in four tweets -- Ron Johnson edition: https://t.co/mxSRC0ifnc— Glenn Greenwald (@Glenn Greenwald)1608328618.0
Yes, Johnson is such an ethical bottom-feeder than maybe Gandhi would have dropped the gloves with him. He's not just a rich guy personally standing in the way of payments to Americans who are literally starving. He's a guy who vastly enriched himself in politics doing that very sort of thing.
Space does not permit a full recounting of Johnson's political atrocities, only one of which was serving as a partisan bagman trying to destroy President-elect Joe Biden's candidacy with the help of some of Ukraine's least noble citizens. The progressive group One Wisconsin Now has put together an entire webpage that chronicles his misdeeds called "The Wrong Johnson Archive:
An Anthology of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson's Embarrassingly Out-of-Touch Record. It's online yet space barely permits a full recounting of what's wrong this guy.
Johnson's willingness to fight against direct relief for Americans is consistent with his statement, reported at the Wrong Johnson archive, in which he was quoted, "When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don't have the incentive to take other jobs."
One group of people with an incentive to take Johnson's job is the Wisconsin Democratic Party, whose members duly noted Johnson's effort today to take a stand against the scurrilous idea of helping Americans in the pandemic.
Here's how the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Johnson' opposition to direct payment to Americans:
"Johnson said he instead supported a program targeted for small businesses. 'What I fear we're going to do with this bipartisan package and what the senator from Missouri is talking about is the same thing, is a shotgun approach,' he said.
"Johnson's comments drew sharp criticism from Democrats, who say federal assistance is desperately needed as the pandemic has continued to wreak havoc on people's livelihoods and the economy.
"'Ron Johnson has declared war on Wisconsin; we desperately need survival checks,' said Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, who has said he will run for Johnson's seat in 2022. 'Time for a new senator.'"