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Weekly remarks: GOP's Ron Johnson on oversized government; Obama on innovation and clean energy

January 29, 2011 |  3:00 am

Obama's SOTU 1-25-11 >

Weekly remarks by Sen. Ron Johnson, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello, my name is Ron Johnson. I’m the newly elected senator from the great state of Wisconsin.

For those of you who don’t know me, this is the first elective office I have ever sought or held. The reason I ran is simple and straightforward. We are bankrupting America, and I thought it was time for citizen legislators to come to Washington to help those individuals already here that are seriously facing that reality.

For the last 31 years, I have been running a plastics manufacturing plant in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As a manufacturer, I have learned to identify and attack the root cause of a problem, not spend my time addressing mere symptoms. Huge deficits, slow economic activity, high ....

.... unemployment and woefully inadequate job creation are severe symptoms of the problem. They are not the root cause. The ever expanding size, scope and cost of government is. This is what we must address. This is what I hope the President has come to realize. 

I hope the president and his allies in Congress accept a simple truth: Big government is blocking job creation, not helping it. The sooner Washington ends its dependence on more spending, the sooner our economy will see real growth.

I bring the perspective of someone who’s been creating jobs, meeting a payroll, balancing a budget and living under the rules, regulations and taxes that politicians here in Washington impose on the rest of us. I know firsthand the incentives and disincentives, the intended and unintended consequences of government intrusion into our lives.

Unfortunately, when it comes to creating jobs, government is rarely helpful. Government tends to make it harder and more expensive to create jobs. We need to make job creation easier and cheaper.

Recently, President Obama talked about the harmful effect of government over-regulation. Highlighting this problem is long overdue. The Small Business Administration estimates that government regulations cost our economy $1.7 trillion annually.

According to the IRS’ own figures, it cost taxpayers 6.1 billion hours to comply with tax code just last year. This is a staggering amount of money. And it is money that is not available for consumption, business investment, or job creation. That’s a problem.

The president often speaks of making investments in our economy. If he  means allowing taxpayers and businesses to keep more of their hard-earned dollars and providing them the freedom to invest where they choose, I’m all for it.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid he means more government spending and more government control. The lesson we all should have learned from the pitiful results of the $814 billion stimulus bill is that growing government does not grow our economy or create long term, self-sustaining jobs. It is the private sector that creates jobs.  
Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson
 History proves that governments do not know how to efficiently allocate capital. Millions of private individuals, acting independently within the free market system, do it best.

We need to encourage and incentivize entrepreneurs, not tax and regulate them out of business.

We’ve also heard the president talk about controlling spending and the deficit. If he’s serious about it, he should present a serious plan. If he does, I feel confident Republicans will be willing to help him get it passed. 

In his response to the State of the Union address, my fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan -– a leader in tackling our spending problem -- did a great job of expressing our willingness to work with the president and pointing out how critical it is for us to act now, before it’s too late.

The issues of spending, deficits and the debt will be central in the upcoming debate over the 2011 spending bill and the need to raise the debt ceiling. This will be the moment of truth when talk and rhetoric must be turned into action and tangible results. Real reductions must be part of the solution.

As a business person, I’m used to getting things done. I came here to accomplish something, to help solve the very serious problems facing our nation. I also came to Washington with a deep reverence for the genius of our founding Fathers, what they passed on to us, and what they hoped we would preserve. Their fight for freedom, their belief in the power of the free market system, and their vision of a limited government is what has made America the greatest nation in the history of mankind.

It is our honor and our duty to be worthy stewards of this legacy.  It is our turn to act responsibly. Thank you.     #####

Obama gives his SOTU 1-25-11

President Obama's weekly remarks, as provided by the White House 

I’m speaking to you today from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where I’m at an innovative company called Orion Energy Systems.

Just a few years ago, this was an empty warehouse. A major employer had shut down this factory, moved its operations abroad, and took a lot of jobs away from this town.

But today, as you can see behind me, this is a thriving enterprise once more. You are looking at a factory where 250 workers are building advanced clean energy systems –- state-of-the-art technologies that use solar power and energy efficiency to save farms and businesses thousands of dollars on their utility bills.

I’m here because this business and others like it are showing us the way forward. And in the coming days, I’ll be shining a spotlight on innovators across America who are relying on new technologies to create new jobs and opportunities in new industries.   Obama waves to Wisconsin workers 1-26-11 at Orion Energy

 That’s what companies like Orion are doing. And that’s how America will win the future –- by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our competitors. We’ll win the future by being the best place on Earth to do business.  That is what we are called to do at this moment. And in my state of the union, I talked about how we get there.

It starts by making sure that every single child can get a good education and every American can afford college or career training. Because that’s what will help light the spark in the minds of innovators -– and ensure that our people have the skills to work for innovative companies.

We also need to make sure that America can move goods and information as fast as any of our competitors, whether on the road or online. Because good infrastructure helps our businesses sell their products and services faster and cheaper.

We have to reform our government and cut wasteful spending, so that we eliminate what we don’t need to pay for the investments we need to grow, like education and medical research.

And as we can see here in Manitowoc, we need to ensure that we are promoting innovation -– especially in promising areas like clean energy. This is going to be key to growing our economy and helping businesses create jobs. Orion, for example, was able to open with the help of small business loans and incentives that are creating demand for clean energy technologies like wind power and solar panels. 

That’s why I’ve proposed a bigger tax credit for the research that companies do. And to give these companies the certainty of knowing there will be a market for what they sell, I’ve set this goal for America: by 2035, 80 percent of electricity should come from clean energy. 

This is going to help spark innovation at businesses across America. This is going to spur new products and technologies. This is going to lead to good, new jobs.  And that’s how we win the future –- by unleashing the talent and ingenuity of American businesses and American workers in every corner of this country.

So to those who say that America’s best days are behind us, let them come here, to Manitowoc. Let them come to this once-shuttered factory that is now bustling with workers building new technologies for the world.  Let them come here to see the incredible promise of our country.

This is the future. And it’s bright. Thank you.    ####

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Photos: Tim Sloan / AFP / Getty Images; Allen Fredericks / Reuters (Johnson); Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press; Brian Kersey / Pool via Getty Images.

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