On Monday, Ron announced the launch of his Manufacturers Coalition, a group of more than 100 members statewide and 12 members on the leadership team who will advise Ron on manufacturing issues and help mobilize voters to further strengthen Wisconsin Republicans’ best-in-the-nation ground game.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) kicked off a statewide tour focused on manufacturing Monday.
He visited Team Industries in Kaukauna, and met with members of the Manufacturers Coalition to talk about challenges facing the industry.
The coalition has more than 100 members statewide, and 12 members on the leadership team who will advise Johnson on manufacturing issues.
“I’ve got a manufacturing background. I understand how manufacturing is just the backbone, in many respects, to the Wisconsin economy, providing great-paying jobs,” Sen. Johnson said.
Johnson was in town to introduce a list of manufacturing leaders supportive of his campaign, including staff from TEAM Industries Inc. in Kaukauna.
“Obviously, I’ve got a manufacturing background,” Johnson told reporters after his tour of the Kaukauna facility. “I understand how manufacturing is the backbone, in many respects, of the Wisconsin economy, providing great-paying jobs.”
Before his Monday interview with the EagleHerald, Johnson stopped off at Tyco Fire Products in Marinette for a short visit.
“It was real interesting,” he said. “They do an extraordinary job, they’ve done an excellent job of improving worker safety … you can tell it’s a first-class company and that’s a good thing.”
Johnson said he had been touring several manufacturing facilities around the state on his campaign trail and had been hearing similar concerns from rural communities such as Marinette County regarding security: Whether it’s related to national and homeland security, income and job security, health care security and retirement security.
“People are looking at all of these government-run programs not working that well. If they understand numbers they realize they’re not sustainable and they’re concerned about it,” he said. “And they’re not seeing political leadership really address them in a serious fashion.”
Johnson heavily criticized the Obama administration’s attempts at managing the problem that is ISIS, calling the current strategy in the area “nibbling around the edges” and laying out his concerns about “inspired lone wolves.” He used the case of Samy Mohamed Hamzeh as an example, a 23-year-old Milwaukee man apprehended in January who had planned an attack on a Milwaukee Masonic temple but was caught trying to buy two automatic weapons and a silencer from undercover agents. Hamzeh and others like him are likely to organize and direct their attention around the world to cause more strife, he said.
“This is a real and growing threat, and we’re not addressing it,” he said. “We’re burying our heads in the sand on this.”
Johnson’s solution to the problem is simple: Grow the economy.
“We cannot be secure in terms of internationally and our homeland security if we don’t have a strong economy,” he said. “You can’t be strong militarily, you can’t project our values and our leadership if we’re weak economically, and right now we’re weak economically. We have a $19 trillion debt.”
The country, Johnson said, is “not even coming close to realizing the full potential of this economy.” He claimed the economy has been growing about 2 percent since the recession, while the country’s economy has grown about 3.5 percent over the last hundred years. If the country’s economy can grow, Johnson says, the U.S. can use its resources to strengthen its military and “provide the leadership that the world is looking for to lead a committed coalition of the willing.”
Johnson finished up by citing his record as chairman of the Committee of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, where he and the group have passed 83 pieces of legislation, 27 of which have been signed into law.
“People tell me, ‘Can’t you guys get along and just get something done?,’ well I do get along, and I got something done,” he said.
Johnson first ran for office in 2010, where he ran a largely self-financed campaign and defeated Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold with 52 percent of the vote. Prior to that, Johnson was CEO of custom sheet extruder factory PACUR, a company he worked his way up in after beginning there in 1979. Johnson is again facing Feingold in the election in November.