Freshman senator Ron Johnson, Republican from Wisconsin, expressed frustration today that most members of Congress are in the dark on debt ceiling negotiations.
“You reporters have more detail on what's happening here in Washington on these debt ceiling talks than rank and file members of Congress," Johnson said on a conference call this morning. "To me, that’s outrageous, disgusting. That’s that is not the way this process should work."
"We should have followed the law. We should have passed a budget by april 15," Johnson said. "Paul Ryan presented a budget in the House. Pat Toomey presented his. The Democrats never did. President Obama’s lost 97 to zero."
“We’re supposed to take a look at some deal that’s struck behind closed doors by a couple individuals that’s going to decide the financial fate of America, and we're supposed to take two days to take a look at something like that?" Johnson continued. “It’s disgusting, it’s disgusting the way this process is playing out.”
Johnson said there's no chance that Republicans will agree to tax increases as part of a deal. “When the Democrats had a supermajority in Congress, when they controlled all levers of power here in Washington, they didn’t increase taxes. They couldn’t get that passed. So now they want republicans to do that for them?" he said. "That’s just not going to happen."
Johnson made it clear that he would agree to vote for a debt ceiling increase if it were paired with spending cuts, a statutory spending cap, and a "constitutional limitation on spending and the size of government. I prefer that to a balanced budget amendment because a balanced budget amendment can be a tax trap."
He also said that hitting the debt limit is preferable to caving in. “If we don’t increase the debt ceiling—I don’t think anybody is looking at living under a debt ceiling for an entire year—but as opposed to caving and not getting the fiscal controls, if we had to live under that debt ceiling budget for a couple days or a couple weeks, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you plan on it.”
Johnson pointed out that the government would have plenty of money to pay interest on the debt to avoid a default, and there would be enough money to pay the troops and entitlement programs. “If this administration misses one payment to a Social Security recipient, one payment to a soldier, one debt payment, that is a choice they are making,” he said.