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

Business Insider logo Business Insider 1/27/2022 insider@insider.com (Cheryl Teh)
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 © Provided by Business Insider 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 ongoing labor shortage.
  • He previously said he was "not a real fan" of the child tax credit.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson argued against government efforts to make child care cheaper for parents during a visit on Tuesday to Kwik Trip's headquarters in La Crosse.

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

Speaking to WKBT, Johnson said that he did not support moves by the government to help families find child care options. Instead, Johnson told the news station that he would support slashing unemployment benefits to get more people back to work and alleviate the ongoing labor shortage.

He told WKBT that he would 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. 


Video: Families receive final monthly child tax credit checks with framework's future in jeopardy (NBC News)

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In May 2021, Johnson remarked on WKOW-TV that he supported slashing Wisconsin's $300 per week federal unemployment subsidy. During the interview, Johnson pushed back on a suggestion from WKOW-TV host A. J. Bayatpour that many women cannot re-enter the workforce because their wages do not 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. 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," Johnson added. "I just have greater faith in the marketplace setting appropriate wage rates."

Johnson also admitted he was "not a real fan" of the child tax credit which offers parents up to $3,600 per 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" that he would be able to keep monthly checks to parents going due to resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to the Build Back Better plan.

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

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