Ron Johnson - U.S. Senate - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Ron Johnson - U.S. Senate

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Q. Most agree that higher education is key to having a strong country, yet in Wisconsin, the average student debt has skyrocketed in the last decade. The Institute for College Access & Success says it went up 74% from 2004-2014. What is the role of the federal government in ensuring that higher education is affordable and accessible?

There is a role for the federal government in making college more affordable and accessible, and student loans and grants play a role. But the most important thing we can do is to ensure the federal government doesn’t do more harm than good. According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, federal government policies are significantly contributing to tuition inflation and making college more expensive.

Additionally, for those who feel college may not be the best path for them, we need strong job-training and apprenticeship programs, and we need to stop denigrating the trades. All work should be valued and fairly rewarded. There are plenty of good-paying construction and manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin, and we need skilled workers to help make our economy stronger.

Q. How, in your desired role, would you help revitalize the economy, strengthen the middle class, create jobs and ensure fair taxation?

As an accountant and an Oshkosh manufacturer, I spent my career building a company and creating good-paying jobs. I know how hard it is to start and build a successful business, and how much harder the government makes it for workers and business leaders to succeed. That’s why we need tax and regulatory reform that creates more opportunity for Wisconsin workers, helps them stay globally competitive, and allows them to keep more of their hard-earned money.

I’m working to scrap our current tax code and replace it with something simpler that raises the money we need but doesn’t do any economic harm. I’ve also cosponsored dozens of pieces of legislation focused on getting rid of job-killing regulatory overreach. If companies spend less time navigating the tax code and regulations, it means they can focus on growing their business and creating more good paying jobs.

Additionally, we need to support vocational and technical training programs to give people the tools they need to succeed – and provide manufacturers, construction companies, and other employers the skilled workforce they need.

Q. What would your office do to build and strengthen retirement security for all working men and women, including protecting employees' pensions?

As I talk with Wisconsinites, they are concerned that they won’t be able to count on Medicare and Social Security in the future. This is unacceptable for the hard-working people of our state who have paid into these programs and deserve stable health and retirement security. Unfortunately, the trust fund for Medicare will be depleted by 2030 and the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by 2032 because career politicians have for decades failed to protect these programs while recklessly funding big government.

I’m working to preserve these programs so seniors will be able to rely Medicare and Social Security in the future. The best way to make these programs sustainable, and to strengthen employees’ pensions, is to boost economic growth. A strong and healthy economy would generate trillions of dollars of additional revenue needed to protect Social Security and Medicare -- without raising tax rates.

Q. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been roundly criticized for making routine health care less affordable for millions of people who already had insurance through their jobs. Deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket maximums have risen dramatically, coverage has been reduced and premiums are higher for many. At the same time, the act has provided coverage for millions of people who did not have insurance. How, specifically, would you change the ACA to make it better? Where would the money come from? And how would you ensure that no one 'falls through the cracks'?

Obamacare has failed because Washington is making decisions for Americans and it’s suppressed free market competition and innovation. The result is that Wisconsin families - in spite of the repeated promises of those who supported the law - lost their doctors and coverage, and are facing higher premiums and deductibles.

We need to repair the damage caused by Obamacare by giving control back to patients and embracing the power of the free market. Increased competition will restrain costs, increase choices, and improve quality and access for everyone.

Q. What do you think this nation's priorities should be during the next decade? If elected, how would your office advance those priorities?

We need stronger economic and national security – and these two priorities are inextricably linked. A stronger economy will create more jobs, boost wages, increase opportunity for all. That in turn, will provide more resources for building a strong military, securing our border, and maintaining America’s role as a global leader.

I’ve worked to achieve these goals during my time as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. My committee has passed 83 bills - most on a bipartisan basis - and 28 have been signed into law. Generally, these bills are designed to make government more efficient, effective, and accountable and strengthen our economic and national security. I’m getting real results by using the approach I learned in the private sector – finding areas of agreement to build consensus, improving efficiency, and solving problems.

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