A bipartisan Senate group led by Senator Ron Johnson (WI-R) & Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) offered a new solution to the border crisis that could clear the way for approvals for those with legitimate asylum cases, while speeding deportations for those who don't have real claims. Johnson joined the Guy Benson Show to explain the details.
Guy Benson [00:00:00] Broadcasting live from the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto. I'm Guy Benson. Thank you for being here. Guy Benson show dot.com you can sign up for the podcast there. Joining me on the line is a U.S. senator from the state of Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson. He's back on the show. He is chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the upper chamber of Congress. Senator great to have you back. Thanks for joining us.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:00:29] Well. How are you doing.
Guy Benson [00:00:30] I'm doing well. I have a lot to ask you on immigration related topics. We're going to get to in just a moment but I just want to see overall I think a lot of people up on the Hill were glued for many hours yesterday to the testimony over on the House side from former special counsel Robert Mueller. Just curious what your thoughts were now that you've had a day to sort of digest all of it.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:00:53] Well I did not conceive the hearing other than excerpts that night. To clarify it was kind of sad. I had been. Robert Mueller's an American hero. Served in Vietnam Bronze Star direct to the FBI in a pretty turbulent time there after 9/11. So the hearing itself what I've seen raises more questions than certainly answered. He held true to form he didn't really say anything further than what was in the Mueller report. I think the more reports certainly show there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia can be sort of end of story. But I've always had a lot of questions in terms of how the whole Russian investigation began how it got spun up in the press Clapper's role Brennan's role and it really raised more issues in terms of who who really did run that special counsel's office quite honestly wasn't Andrew Weissmann a hard hard partisan prosecutor who had been certainly accused of some corruption some of his practices stuff. So this has the whole hearing raised more questions. Only really damned the president and also a lot of blue Democrats for this point in the results.
Guy Benson [00:02:05] Meanwhile Senator. Another issue you ran as part of that tea party wave in 2010 and we were talking on the program yesterday about this bipartisan budget deal over two years that had been hammered out by the leaders of both parties and also the president leaders of both parties in Congress that is in President Trump. We had one of our guests on a fiscal conservative who said this is basically just a death knell for the Tea Party it's the Budget Control Act is dead. It's bipartisan higher spending as far as the eye can see. I'm curious as someone who did run as a fiscal conservative and a businessman in 2010 and of course won re-election in 2016. What is your initial thought about this deal as far as the contours are taking shape.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:02:49] I'm highly disappointed. You know elections do matter. So when you elect and put Nancy Pelosi into the Speaker's chair there. Yeah I understand that the challenge here but one of things I told our leadership that we passed through our committee a pretty big structural reform. It's called the present government shutdown and it was a bipartisan effort. Every Democrat voted for this it's very common sense all does it. If we don't appropriate funds for the entire government or an Hartmut rather than shut the government down or that department down it's just appropriate the same level that you spent last year pretty common we take government shutdowns off the table and that's why I told leadership at least we get it. If you're going to suspend the debt ceiling get a structural reform in exchange for it. But that fell on deaf ears so I'm not publicly clear. I'm I'm a no I've never voted to increase the debt ceiling. I won't say this is the death knell of the Tea Party. But let's face it on a bipartisan basis one thing Washington does know how to do is spend money. And when the chips are really down the solution is always spending more money. So it's pretty gross.
Guy Benson [00:03:55] You know I think you and I are 100 percent singing from the same page on that one Senator and I appreciate your comments on that. Let's turn to homeland security and particularly the border. You are now part of a bipartisan effort to spearhead what you're calling Operation Safe Return you're working with a number of Democrats as well. I want to give a shout out to Kyrsten Sinema a Democrat from Arizona who ran as a moderate. She was not a moderate in her past but she has seemed to really take to heart her role as a moderate. She's she's governing as one and I want to just publicly I was very tough on her during the campaign. I just want to give her props for for running as a moderate and then actually walking the walk in Washington D.C. in a way that I think was surprising to a lot of people so a brief round of applause for Kyrsten Sinema at least for me. But on this front you were working with her and some others talk about what Operation Safe return means and why you think it's crucial given everything that we've seen in recent months down there.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:04:57] Well first of all it's a first step. I'm not going to overstate what it's going to actually accomplish but it's it's a very important first step. The situation is overwhelming. We've had close to 500 thousand unaccompanied children but primarily people coming in as family members come in the first nine months of this fiscal year. That compares to about one hundred thirty seven thousand in the humanitarian crisis year as President Obama declared in 2014. So this is overwhelming the system. My assumption is we're not going to be able to pass any reforms anytime soon. My further assumption we just saw this play out yesterday is any unilateral action the president takes to try and reduce the flow of keep coming this country illegally with all the incumbent problems from that is going to be overturned by the courts. We saw that happen yesterday. So what what Operation Safe Return is it uses existing authority. But it's squeezed out all the inefficiencies out of the adjudication process in this pilot program and the goal is to rapidly and more actively determined those individuals that don't have a valid legal claim to stay in this country and safely return them home to areas in Central America that are safe. And so Krysten Sinema was excellent to work with a very flexible she used her immigration law experience to really help out here. But this is a pilot program and it's going to have to be adjusted as we go. We'll see how many people we can't see for return to be a deterrent a signal to human traffickers that on a bipartisan basis we are going to begin to end this exploitation of our broken system and to migrants in Central America. You know please don't indent yourself since human traffickers don't mortgage your house. Don't spend a years with a salary because you run the risk of us returning you right back into Central America. And listen I would like to help Central America create greater opportunities. But right now we have to focus on the here and now and the goal is achievable goal of our policy should be to reduce that flow like Michael Chertoff did in 2005 we have a surge of resilience 31,000 came in the process process of expired removal reduced that flow by 90 percent within 60 days the following year only 14 had the Brazilians came in here so we know we know what we need do we need to remove we need a consequence. This is the first step in providing that consequence.
Guy Benson [00:07:12] Senator when you're talking about consequences you're talking about incentives and you're talking about messages being received or interpreted by migrants who might be considering coming up here at great risk to themselves financial cost bringing children along because of some of these loopholes that they're exploiting to violate it to violate our sovereignty and come into the country. You know it seems very obvious that we need a change of message from Washington D.C. and a change in policy. You've been you've been preaching that for a while and you're exactly right. But there are people running for president on the other side of the aisle Senator. Who are saying well let's make illegal border crossings no longer a criminal offense. Let's decrease the penalties for illegal immigration. Let's in fact provide benefits including free healthcare for people who come here illegally. Let's tear down walls that already exist on the southern border. I mean it seems like as you are trying to come up with some modest solutions to make the problem to mitigate the problem a little bit. There are some on the on the opposite party in the opposition who they are introducing new policies that would very explicitly even according to former Obama officials make the crisis far far worse. That's at the very least it's sending mixed messages to the very populations that you were just talking about.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:08:39] Well I think it sends a very clear message to the forgotten men and women who've been left behind by the Washington elite that's gotten men and women of Obamacare who continue to work their tail off because they make money they don't get a subsidy and they've seen their premiums double triple and quadruple under Obamacare. What do you how do you think that sounds to them and they've got Democrat presidents candidates saying you know yeah no no no penalties for really getting coming in this country maybe a civil fine and hey we'll give you free health care that doesn't go over real well. So me personally I think that is the stupidest political move on the part of Democrats. I guess I welcome it from those folks but it's not going to resonate with American people I don't believe and of course it just adds another incentive. I mean you've seen and we've seen this surge this particularly this year and again in nine months about a half a million people come in as a unaccompanied child as a family unit is if you need June's figures we'll be about 700000 children and family members coming in here. Throw on top of that single adult males and you've got about a million people come in this country completely unsustainable level. And Democrats want to open up the borders. That is their policy and often free health care. That's crazy if you ask me. Now I think most Americans agree with that.
Guy Benson [00:09:56] Senator last question. It's a political question. I saw an analysis maybe a day or two ago about looking at each of the and it's so early it's almost it's stupidly early right. So let me just clarify and and make that point. Granted it's very very early in the process but they were looking at some of the polling and some of the dynamics and demographics in that kind of thing. And they said it is entirely possible that if most of the states that were red in 2016 remain red and most of the states that remain blue remain blue in 2020. And there's just maybe five states that it comes down to. President Trump looks like he might be in decent shape in these states it looks like a challenger could be you know well well-positioned to let's say win back in Michigan and or a Pennsylvania right smack dab in the middle of battleground central in this analysis was your state of Wisconsin. You barely squeaked one out as did the president in 2016. There have been a number of very close races Scott Walker winning a lot of them and then losing a nail biter in 2018. It's a very very closely divided state. I'm curious what your bird's eye view of Wisconsin politics is at this stage still early stage heading into next year.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:11:13] Well I think Wisconsin will be ground zero in the president's campaign it'll be the bellwether state. And again the presidential race is a comparison and the comparison is of about 3 percent plus growth. Three point eight percent unemployment basically full employment a robust economy vs. the Green New Deal which would cost tens of trillions. Medicare for All which is really Medicare for none. You know when people realize that the Medicare for All makes it illegal for an employer to offer health coverage to their employees it makes illegal all employer sponsored health care. People aren't going to like that and throw on top of that open borders and free health care for illegal immigrants. There'll be a pretty easy comparison I think. I think President Trump has pretty good shot not only in Wisconsin but to win re-election.
Guy Benson [00:12:05] Have you found and sort of follow because you're talking about the economy the low unemployment you were one of the champions of the tax reform law. You know we saw the numbers coming out from the IRS. The vast majority of Americans got a tax cut even the New York Times had to do a fact check on this and inform their readers that yes most Americans vast majority got a tax cut. The only income group on average that did not get a tax cut according to the IRS numbers or data available right now is millionaires which is exactly the opposite of what the Democrats had said. Have you gotten a sense from voters in Wisconsin is one of my concerns is people are taking the good economy now almost for granted and not connecting the dots of what the policies were that got us here. Do you. Feel like Wisconsin voters that you talked to are getting it that the policies that have been implemented on deregulation and tax reform have actually brought us to this better place.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:12:59] Hopefully. But remember Scott Walker lost his reelection when our unemployment rate in Wisconsin is 2.8 percent right. So so people do do. People do take that for granted. So it's incumbent on those of us in office to point out the fact that we stop adding to the regulatory burden. We have more competitive tax system. That is what got a side of Obama's new normal of less than 2 percent growth. Gross about 3 percent growth on unemployment and by the way drove up wages. Me all the good news about Wal-Mart increasing its minimum wage or starting wage by two bucks an hour. Other companies have done the same thing you know that the robust economy really has helped people at the lower and the incomes those income spectrum and those really are the Trump voters and I think they will understand exactly what's happened under under President Trump. And they should take a look at any Democrat presidential candidate in his or her policies as being very risky to their future.
Guy Benson [00:13:51] U.S. Senator Ron Johnson a Republican of Wisconsin he's chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the Senate and I appreciate your time and your leadership on the on the crisis down at the border and that whole issue because it's a mess and I think there's a lot of people very frustrated by the inability of Washington to do anything. And the fact that you were at least trying to do proactive things even if it's not easy is something that I think people from both sides of the aisle can look at and say alright at least he's trying. Senator thank you very much. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) [00:14:20] I'm pretty tenacious not giving up have a great day
Guy Benson [00:14:23] All right. You bet. Thanks. Thank you very much Senator. And that's one of the things that I like about Ron Johnson. He's one of my favorites back in that 2010 class and he's he's governed the way he said he was going to. He is a very successful business man. He's going to come in and figure out how Washington works and try to bring my sensibilities as a businessman to bear. And you know when you're one of 100 it's not always easy even if you're a chairman of he is his staff consistently will reach out to us like hey we know where we're coming at this from another direction. We'd love to talk about this issue again. And you know that's that's actually what leadership looks like. And that's why I also wanted in that segment to go out of my way to praise Kyrsten Sinema who's a Democrat. She and I have disagreements on a number of issues. I actually met her a couple of years back. We're on the stage together at a speaking engagement and we get along great. We really had a great time together over the course of a week. We were speaking Colorado and then I saw some of her comments from earlier in her life and her career where she was really out there on the wacko left. But she made a turn. She decided that that was not for her and she ran for state Senate and won as a moderate and now in in Arizona she is governing as a moderate Democrat like the long lost true genuine moderate Democrat. The fact that she is lending her efforts to Ron Johnson on this at least piece of the immigration issue I think is really laudable on both of their parts and you hope this type of thing. I mean it's so obviously sensible. In fact it's so sensible that I kind of worry it won't pass because that seems to be how politics works these days. But anyway we appreciate Senator Johnson's time. We're going to come back. There's just the latest absolute laughable pathetic disgrace at the United Nations we'll tell you what it is right after this.