Anti-choice Sen. Ron Johnson lays bare the cruel reason Republicans oppose reducing child care costs

Anti-choice Sen. Ron Johnson lays bare the cruel reason Republicans oppose reducing child care costs

The adage that it takes a village to raise a child apparently does not fit into Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s worldview. Asked about his repeated refusal to provide even the slightest bit of relief to struggling families, Johnson verbatim said that he’s “never really felt it was society's responsibility to take care of other people's children.” Johnson, who is considered one of the richest senators in the country with a net worth of $39 million, probably never had to worry about adequate child care for his children, and certainly not his grandchildren. In Johnson’s eyes, that’s on his grandkids’ parents. And they all benefitted from fortune and privilege so that even a tax credit like the one found in the American Rescue Plan doesn’t register for him as being helpful.

Johnson’s views also align with quite a few drunk conservatives I’ve had the opportunity to talk with at bars across New Orleans. In fact, in discussing having children last night, a tourist gave the exact same logic for why it would be “irresponsible” to start a family in this day and age. I’ve met couples at bars whose privilege and luck at being able to care for their children without a support system instilled in them a belief that if they can do it without help, anyone should be able to do so. That belief twists into a fiery anger at what they deem the irresponsibility of the next generations who are considering having children and may struggle financially. I can tell them as much as I want that I personally don't want kids but believe in providing for all, and it’s as if the words out of my mouth have turned into incoherent glyphs they can’t seem to parse.

Johnson very much strikes me as one of those people who just doesn’t get it, to the detriment of how he does his job. The 66-year-old has the privilege of representing his constituents but clearly not the wherewithal to give a shit about them. According to the Wisconsin Examiner, the expanded child tax credit Johnson has been steadfastly opposed to has benefitted an estimated 1.15 million children, 46,000 of whose families were lifted out of poverty because of the tax credits. That is a stunning statistic given the fact that of Wisconsin’s more than 5.8 million residents, nearly 22% are children under 18. But God help Johnson if he has to help them. A recent interview with Johnson on a CBS La Crosse affiliate made Johnson’s stance abundantly clear.

Millions of families stopped receiving the child tax credit this month after struggling through arguably one of the toughest eras to be a parent in modern history. Democrats don’t want parents to suffer for trying to provide for their children and have urged President Biden to include an expanded child tax credit in the Build Back Better Act. On Wednesday, Sens. Michael Bennet, Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker, Raphael Warnock, and Ron Wyden sent a letter to the administration in hopes that they’ll do the right thing. “The consequences of failing to extend the (tax credit) expansion are dire, particularly as families face another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators wrote.

”From July to December 2021, the monthly payments of $250 per child age 6-17 and $300 for children under age 6 reached more than 35 million families. Nearly 9 in 10 American children benefitted from these payments, which enabled their families to afford rent, put food on the table, and pay for child care so their parents and caregivers could stay in the workforce. Data from the Census Bureau show 91% of low-income families spent their payments on basic necessities like groceries, utilities, housing, and school-related costs,” the letter notes. The numbers truly don’t lie, and it’s puzzling to think that sober Johnson’s best argument against a more equitable nation is the same talking point I’ve heard while trying to grab a drink and enduring yet another out-of-town right-winger regaling me with their views. There is no place in politics or even in life for that kind of terrible rhetoric. Call on Senate Democrats to keep fighting for the child tax credit and providing for the future of our country.

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