Sen. Johnson: It’s time for Republicans to play offense on spending

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson told The Daily Caller that House Republicans must go on offense now and pass a spending plan that funds the government into 2013 or else congressional Democrats will try raising taxes in the post-election lame duck session of Congress.

“Let’s get out in front of this thing,” Johnson told TheDC. “Let’s do what’s reasonable. Let’s create some certainty.”

In a Thursday phone interview, the Wisconsin legislator argued that Republicans passing a government spending plan now will prevent Democrats from being able to use the threat of another government shutdown at the end of the year to push through tax increases.

Johnson outlined a strategy he and other conservatives are pushing that calls for House Republicans to pass a plan that includes extending Bush-era tax rates for the rest of the year before the August recess, when legislators take a month-long break.

Under this strategy, Republicans in the Senate would then put up a vote on the spending plan passed by the House. This, Johnson said, would make it harder for Democrats to argue the GOP is responsible for an impending government shutdown.

“I think this is something we can win,” Johnson said, adding, “if we get put on defense, we lose.” (RELATED: Congress presses Obama for details on sequester spending cuts)

Johnson said he fears a scenario where Republicans agree to pass a continuing resolution on government spending that only lasts through the election, leading to the issue having to be tackled in a lame duck session of Congress. He said that would be a “disaster.”

“It’s kind of like what I tell my kids, ‘Nothing good happens after midnight.’ Nothing good happens in the lame duck,” Johnson said.

Ideally, the senator said he’d like to see a one-year extension, though said he’d agree to a six-month extension on a government spending plan. He expressed optimism that the Republican leadership in Congress and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would “go on offense” as well.

Johnson said at this point, there are more than 100 — “maybe a couple hundred” —members of the House behind the plan.

“Who would disagree with us?” Johnson asked. “These are budget control acts that were passed in a bipartisan basis. … All we’re asking is lets pass this for six months so we don’t have a shut down threat.”

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