ONLY ON 7: Sen. Johnson talks minimum wage, stimulus checks

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 7:57 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - After countless requests over the last year or more, Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson spoke with me on a variety of topics that are on the mind of Wisconsinites.

He’s not in favor of a $15 federal minimum wage. Part of President Biden’s $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief package is a hike in the federal minimum wage, from it’s current $7.25/hour to $15 by 2025.

The senator tells me they need to look for, what he calls, the ‘goldilocks’ solution, and says he’s not sure what that is. But agrees the current minimum wage is historically low.

Johnson says that would affect about 50-million Americans, some positively, but possibly costing others their job. ‘Real-world consequences’ is what he calls it, when you take into account, small business owners.

“I think $15 is just simply way too high and I think many, many economists would agree with me as well as most business owners who are paying people less than $15 an hour would also say that,” he said. “I think a lot of them would say, either go out of business or I’m going to have to drastically reduce my staffs so I can survive in business. And then I won’t be able to service my customers.”

Johnson said what should have been done decades ago is, whatever minimum wage was then, indexed it and taken this debate off the table.

The raise proposal is staggered over the next 5 years. Starting with $9.50 this year, to $11, $12.50, $14, and eventually the $15 in 2025. Johnson says there’s justification in raising it to a certain extent.

Senator Johnson is opposed to handing out another round of stimulus checks for $1400 to everyone who makes $150,000 or less, but rather target those checks to the folks who really need it.

The $1400 check per person, to individuals making less than $75,000 or households making under $150,000, is also part of President Biden’s $1.9-trillion COVID plan.

Johnson’s argument is when the U.S. was at its pandemic low, we were down 25-million jobs. Checks were sent to 166-million people, or roughly 115-million households, totaling $275-billion. Right now, Johnson says we’re down 9-million jobs.

“First I would target those 9-million people who lost their jobs. Now, I realize they should be on unemployment and they’re getting a pretty generous plus up. So, how much do they really need as well? Again, I’m not saying this is easy to target, but we ought to try a whole lot harder than what we are, as opposed to just shotgunning out a couple hundred billion dollars more of money when we don’t have it. We don’t have an unlimited checking account.”

Johnson says we’re sending hundreds of billions of dollars to people who truly don’t need it. But he didn’t say *how much-targeted money should be sent out.

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