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Ron Johnson’s Solution to the Childcare Crisis: Ask Mothers on Government Assistance to Care for Everyone’s Kids

Something you may have noticed in the decade-plus he’s been in office is that Senator Ron Johnson is a dangerous jerk. Early in his career, he claimed in an interview that ISIS operatives might deliberately infect themselves with Ebola and then come to the United States to spread it. The following year, he introduced legislation “directing the federal government to prepare to protect critical infrastructure from threats from electromagnetic pulses…and geomagnetic disturbances,” a favorite far-right conspiracy theory. On climate change, he said the scientific consensus is “bullshit”, that experts who attribute the crisis to man-made causes are “crazy”, that excess carbon dioxide is good for the environment and that Greenland takes its name from the fact that it was originally green. He is a leading purveyor of disinformation about the 2020 election and COVID-19, saying, in the case of the former, that the deadly insurgency was largely a “peaceful protest.” On the latter, he pushed ivermectin – a dewormer for horses – as a treatment, falsely insisted that vaccines were dangerous and said mouthwash could kill the virus. So when Johnson opened his mouth this week to discuss an idea he had apparently floated regarding government aid and child care, it was hardly surprising that the words that came out were those of a big fool.

In a town hall call with voters on Tuesday, the Wisconsin lawmaker proposed that mothers on public assistance work in day care centers where their children attend. “When you have mothers on different kinds of public support, for me an elegant solution would be, why not have them help childcare staff for other mothers?” Johnson said, modestly viewing his idea as an “imaginative solution” to current child care staffing shortages. (It’s unclear whether Johnson would want to make this a condition of receiving aid, but given that Republicans are notoriously anti-“handouts” and the “get a job” party, that wouldn’t be out of the question. about if he did. ) The senator would have responded to the child care subsidy included in the president Joe BidenThe Build Back Better proposal, which Democrats support because it could actually help people. In January, Johnson attacked the subsidy (and parents who aren’t millionaires like him), saying in a TV interview that he was against making childcare more affordable because “people decide to have families and to become parents; it’s something they need to consider when making that choice. I never really felt it was society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children. (Incidentally, Johnson opposes abortion rights and last year attempted to make performing the procedure after 20 weeks a criminal offence.)

But apparently the senator thought a bit more and decided that the grants might be right for him if the women who receive them go to work. There are only a few issues with his proposal, one of them being that it’s illegal in the state of Wisconsin, according to The Associated Press:

Wisconsin law prohibits state subsidy payments from being made to a certified child care provider where an employee’s child is receiving care. The law restricting eligible recipients of child care allowances was enacted after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2009, they discovered that child care providers were collecting subsidies while watching each other’s children.

There’s also the matter of Johnson’s “imaginative solution” which is extremely sexist, as he apparently believes childcare is strictly the domain of mothers. Additionally, as a Wisconsin State Senator Kelda Roys underline on Twitter, Johnson apparently thinks you can just place any random woman in the job. “This is absolute trash,” she wrote. “Early childhood education is incredibly demanding, important and highly skilled work. Everyone’s children deserve to be cared for by well-paid and trained professionals, including supported parents.

In response to the proposal, Sarah Godlewsky, who is running for the Senate, said: ‘We have a full-fledged child care crisis and a record number of mothers are being pushed out of the workforce. There are common-sense solutions to these problems, but Ron Johnson’s “imaginative” idea would punish mothers and take us back to the 1950s. I’ve got news for this guy: we’re not going back there. Spokesperson for the Wisconsin Democratic Party Philip Shulman had a similar take, noting, “Ron Johnson cared no less about the parents and children of Wisconsin. Instead of offering meaningful solutions that would reduce costs, he is pushing a self-serving agenda that is hurting Wisconsin families.

A spokesperson for Johnson’s office said vanity lounge, in part: “All we see from Democrats and the Biden administration is the government repeatedly taking away options for hard-working families and mortgaging the future of our children. Their grand government proposals eliminate child care choices for parents; this excludes faith-based providers, small family daycares, and family care.…Senator Johnson was simply suggesting looking for a better, cheaper solution.

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