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Wisconsin unions react to Sen. Ron Johnson’s Inflation Reduction Act criticism

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//April 25, 2023//

Wisconsin unions react to Sen. Ron Johnson’s Inflation Reduction Act criticism

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//April 25, 2023//

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U.S. Senator Ron Johnson speaks at Milwaukee Press Club event on April 24, 2023. (Staff Photo: Steve Schuster)

By Steve Schuster and Ethan Duran
[email protected] and
[email protected]

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on Monday criticized the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and its attached Energy Security and Climate Change programs, attacked the federal government, the news media and proposed a new vote on abortion.

Johnson’s IRA criticism prompted a response from Wisconsin unions who found work through renewable programs brought by federal dollars.

While speaking at a Milwaukee Press Club luncheon, Johnson cited a March editorial from The Wall Street Journal, which says Goldman Sachs estimated IRA tax credits will cost tens to hundreds of billions more than the Congressional Budget Office estimated over the next decade.

“Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act. It’s not anti-inflationary. Goldman Sachs – this was reported in the Wall Street Journal – the green energy boondoggles and the tax credits contain that. They’re supposedly about $400 billion, a little less. The real price tag on that according to Goldman Sachs says about $1.2 trillion. We can’t afford to be spending money trying to hold back the tides. It’s a fantasy thinking we can do that. It’s a fantasy thinking we can produce all the electric vehicles that people are contemplating. We don’t have the minerals for it. The environmentalists won’t let us mine it either. … All the fearmongering over climate change,” Johnson said at a luncheon in Milwaukee.

The fiscal year 2022 budget bill, also known as the IRA, invested around $369 billion in Energy Security and Climate Change programs over the next 10 years, according to a summary of the bill. President Joe Biden signed the bill in August.

Wisconsin’s construction unions repudiated Johnson’s comment and said the IRA had a positive impact on the state through federal funding for projects, apprenticeships and jobs working on solar fields and wind farms.

“If Senator Johnson thinks that it’s a fantasy that the Inflation Reduction Act can invest in our economy and workforce to build renewable energy to power our homes and businesses, then all he needs to do is open his eyes and look around our state to see how the IRA is having a positive impact,” Wisconsin Laborers District Council (LIUNA) President and Business Manager Kent Miller told The Daily Reporter.

Miller noted that Johnson had voted against the IRA, bipartisan infrastructure bill and the CHIPS bill.

“It’s not a fantasy that the IRA and its tax credits have created LIUNA apprenticeships providing pathways to a career with great wages and benefits. The truth is, Senator Johnson has opposed every effort to create good union jobs and invest in our economy. He voted against the IRA, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the CHIPS bill. So, he can continue living in fantasy land while the LIUNA apprentices and journey workers live in reality building our solar fields and wind farms,” Miller added.

For resident workers and state infrastructure, IRA is a “generational investment” with renewable energy tax credits, Wisconsin Building Trades Council Executive Director Emily Pritzkow told The Daily Reporter.

Renewing a call for a statewide vote on abortion rights, Johnson also said Monday he wants to base U.S. abortion policy on an exhibit he saw at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The “babies in a jar” exhibit captures stages of growth and development before birth from 28 days to 38 weeks.

“The way to decide this decision for America is to basically use this exhibit,” Johnson said while calling for “a single-issue referendum for Wisconsin” on abortion.

“The question we have to decide is at what point does society have a responsibility to protect life,” Johnson said, noting that women have rights just as “an unborn child in the womb has rights,” and that Wisconsinites and Americans at-large need to be educated on abortion.

Johnson proposed “intensive education campaigns” to educate Wisconsinites on “what does a baby look like inside the womb, at every point gestation … what does an abortion look like as well?”

He opened his remarks about abortion by saying, “I absolutely support the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.” The decision belongs “in the hands of we the people,” Johnson said noting that these forums would be held throughout the state and that voters would ultimately get to decide where a life begins.

When asked about the abortion pill noting it’s FDA approved for safe use, Johnson then began to attack “big Pharma” and the federal government.

“Our federal health agencies have been captured by big pharma. Medical research, medical science, medical journalism has been corrupted by that process. Our federal health agencies, FDA, CDC, NIH have not been honest with Americans, they have not been transparent,” Johnson said.

Johnson then compared how the federal government handled COVID to abortion.

“When you understand what’s happened during COVID then you apply it to another issue, I guess I have my doubts about the FDA following the science in this one and not playing politics as well,” Johnson said.

Johnson added, “I’m not a doctor, I’m not a medical researcher,” but then said “I don’t trust them (the CDC and FDA) because of their “lack of response” in what Johnson said was a series of more than 50 oversight letters sent to the respective agencies.

“I don’t trust them, and I think that’s awful. I think we need our federal health agencies to oversee the safety of drugs and food. We need a CDC whose mission is to gather information that’s honestly disseminated to the public. They are not doing that, they are failing miserably in their mission,” Johnson said.

The Wisconsin Law Journal and The Daily Reporter reached out to the CDC, NIH, and FDA for comments which were not received prior to publication.

Johnson trashed the media several times during the 90-minute event and argued with nearly every journalist that asked him a question.

CBS 58’s Emilee Fannon asked Johnson about his attendance at a Wisconsin anti-vaccine conference and noted that Johnson said one of the main reasons he wanted to be re-elected was to advocate for those who have suffered from vaccination injuries. Noting that many of Johnson’s claims including a false claim that thousands have died after receiving vaccines was “debunked,” Fannon asked why Johnson still makes this an issue when voters have made it clear their priorities are more in line with public safety, abortion, and inflation.

In response Johnson angrily said, “You’ve just provided a perfect example with what’s wrong with journalism.”

“You said my claims have been debunked. Where and when?” Johnson asked.

“There is not one thing that I’ve said during COVID that has been proven untrue,” Johnson added who then asked, “Have you not noticed the Twitter Files? Have you not noticed how federal health agencies were censoring truth? … What you just said, accused me of being debunked, that is completely false,” Johnson said.

Johnson then told Fannon, “You need to get up to date in terms of what’s happen their in medical science, a little more educated in terms of VAERS … you need to get up to date on what’s happening out there in terms of medical science.”

The Journal Sentinel’s Bill Glauber then defended Fannon calling her “an outstanding journalist.”

Johnson also made claims that to date, there are more than 35,000 deaths and more than 1.5 million adverse events worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 vaccines according to VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System.

However, the CDC’s website states, “reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.”

According to the CDC Website, more than 672 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through March 1, 2023. During this time, VAERS received 19,476 preliminary reports of death (0.0029%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

By comparison, nearly 7 million have died from the actual COVID virus, according to The World Health Organization.

Johnson acknowledged that the VAERS system doesn’t prove causation (that the vaccine actually caused the death), but said it still gives him concern.

When TMJ4’s Charles Benson asked an abortion related question to Johnson, “As you know the governor already did call for that (referendum),” Johnson cantankerously responded, “No, he didn’t he called for a referendum to codify Roe. It’s completely different.”

In his opening remarks, Johnson slammed the media.

“We can’t continue as a democracy in freedom if we don’t have an unbiased media that holds both sides equally accountable and that does a whole lot better helping Americans discern the truth,” Johnson said.

Johnson brought up Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, claiming it was false.

“That’s now been proven to be a completely false narrative, a hoax. I don’t really see any members of the media outraged that they were fed false information … Nobody has ever apologized for it. The media has never made amends. The media has never called out the people who gave them false information,” Johnson said.

Johnson said while he investigated Hunter Biden and found “a vast web of financial foreign entanglements … yet the media is reporting … that I am soliciting and disseminating Russian misinformation. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

When Johnson was asked by The Wisconsin Law Journal about text messages sent from his staff to then Vice President Mike Pence’s staff to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Johnson said, “it was such a non-event to me and my office … it was a big nothing burger. … I know the biased media is trying to make it a big conspiracy. If an attorney for the president for the United States contacts asks you and says can you deliver something to the Vice President, what are you going to do, ask him 65,000 questions and grill on him? I had no idea what was being asked to be delivered,” claiming that nothing was delivered. “My involvement lasted seconds,” he said.

Wisconsin Democrats responded to Johnson’s comments.

“Ron Johnson is a serial liar and a national embarrassment whose obsession with antivax conspiracy theories is rivaled only by his passion for attacking the Social Security benefits Wisconsin seniors depend on to make ends meet,” said Joseph Oslund Communications Director with Wisconsin Democrats during an interview with The Daily Reporter.

“It was also clear from Ron Johnson’s attacks on the FDA that he fully supports the efforts of Republican politicians to further restrict safe access to abortion nationwide by banning mifepristone. Johnson’s extreme anti-abortion views are wildly out of touch with the broad majority of Wisconsinites, no matter how many different ways he might try to triangulate himself on this issue,” Oslund added.


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