Sen. Ron Johnson says it's not 'society's responsibility' to care for 'other people's children' while arguing against childcare subsidies for working parents

·3 min read
Ron Johnson
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told a local news channel this week that he "never really felt it was society's responsibility to take care of other people's children."Samuel Corum/Getty Images
  • Sen. Ron Johnson said it's not "society's responsibility" to "take care of other people's children."

  • Instead, Johnson backed slashing unemployment benefits to alleviate the labor shortage.

  • He previously said he was "not a real fan" of the child tax credit.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin this week argued against government efforts to make childcare cheaper for parents.

"People decide to have families and become parents. That's something they need to consider when they make that choice," Johnson told the local Wisconsin TV station WKBT during a visit Tuesday to Kwik Trip's headquarters in La Crosse. "I've never really felt it was society's responsibility to take care of other people's children."

Speaking with WKBT, Johnson said he didn't support moves by the government to help families find childcare options. Instead, Johnson told the news station he'd support slashing unemployment benefits to get more people back to work and alleviate the ongoing labor shortage.

He told WKBT he'd back more efforts to help people get jobs that would allow them to support their own families.

Johnson has historically not been a supporter of childcare-related legislation.

In May, Johnson remarked on WKOW-TV that he supported slashing Wisconsin's $300-a-week federal unemployment subsidy. During the interview, Johnson pushed back on a suggestion from the WKOW-TV host A.J. Bayatpour that many women couldn't reenter the workforce because their wages didn't cover the cost of childcare.

"Unemployment benefits are not meant to provide replacement wages. That was provided during COVID when it was nobody's fault that they were losing their job or they were being encouraged to stay home so they wouldn't spread the disease," Johnson said.

"Wages are set in the marketplace," he added. "Businesses pay what wages they can afford based on the competitive situation, whether it's in a restaurant, whether it's in manufacturing, where they're competing against foreign manufacturers versus domestic suppliers. I just have greater faith in the marketplace setting appropriate wage rates."

Johnson also said he was "not a real fan" of the child tax credit, which was expanded last year to offer parents up to $3,600 a child.

"In general, I don't like to use the tax code for either economic or social engineering. I think we do a terrible job. I prefer a tax code that was simple, that was rational, that treated all income equally," Johnson said in response to a question about the child tax credit.

President Joe Biden conceded in January that he was "not sure" he would be able to keep monthly checks to parents going because of resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to the Build Back Better plan.

Build Back Better is stalled while Democratic lawmakers try to negotiate with Manchin, one of the few Democratic holdouts whose support is essential to get the bill over the finish line in the 50-50 Senate.

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