State of the Union Response from Senator Ron Johnson

Good Evening,

I appreciated the opportunity to hear the President’s State of the Union message for the first time in person.  It is an honor and responsibility to be part of this process.  It is a responsibility I take very seriously.

During his speech, the President reiterated the need to treat economic growth and job creation as a top priority.  It is important that those of us in the Nation’s capital remain committed to that goal.  It is also important for us to properly diagnose the cause of our economic weakness. 

As a manufacturer for the last 31 years, I have learned to identify and attack the root cause of a problem, not spend my time addressing mere symptoms.   Huge deficits, anemic economic activity, high unemployment, and woefully inadequate job creation are severe symptoms of the problem.  They are not the root cause.   The ever expanding size, scope, and cost of government is.   This is what we must address.  This is what I hope the President has come to realize. 

Last week, President Obama talked about the harmful effect of government overregulation.  Highlighting this problem is long overdue.  The Small Business Administration estimates that government regulations cost our economy $1.7 trillion every year.  According to the IRS’s own figures, it cost taxpayers $338 billion to comply with the tax code just last year.  That is a staggering amount of money, and it is money that is not available for consumption, business investment, and job creation.  That’s a problem.

Throughout his term, and again this evening, the President spoke of making investments in our economy.  If he means allowing taxpayers and businesses to keep more of their hard earned dollars, and providing them the freedom to invest where they choose, I’m all for it.  Unfortunately, I’m afraid he will propose more government spending.  The lesson we all should have learned from the pitiful results of the $862 billion stimulus bill, is that growing government does not grow our economy or create long term, self-sustaining jobs.   Only the private sector can do that. 

The lessons of history will show that America achieved its success by promoting freedom, protecting the free market system, and limiting the size, scope, and cost of government.   We weaken our economy and jeopardize our future when we stray from these abiding principles.   Americans intuitively understand this.  We know that $1.3 trillion deficits, and a $14 trillion debt that is approaching the size of our total annual economic activity is simply not sustainable.   We need to reverse course now.

We need to begin limiting government so that our private sector can once again be free to prosper and grow.    Once we understand this, we can begin implementing policies that set us on the path to true economic recovery.