Sen. Johnson further clarifies remarks about government spending on child care

MADISON, Wis. — Sen. Ron Johnson has further clarified remarks he made earlier this week about federal spending on child care that went viral online.

In an interview earlier this week in La Crosse, Johnson said parents are responsible for their own children and that spending on childcare is “the last thing we should be talking about.”

“People decide to have families and become parents, that’s something they need to consider when they make that choice,” he said on Tuesday. “I’ve never really felt it was society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children.”

READ MORE: Sen. Ron Johnson: Society should provide opportunities for people to get jobs, but not responsible for child care

On Thursday, Johnson said the government’s role is to help those who can’t help themselves.

“First of all, we’re a very compassionate society and government’s role is to help people that can’t help themselves or help people help themselves,” he said. “I think my main point is — and I’m happy to defend this — I think the decision to have a child is probably the most important decision you can possibly have. I don’t think it should be controversial to say that parents should have the primary responsibility for taking care of their children. I don’t think it should be controversial to be concerned about being $29 trillion in debt and additional deficit spending that would be sparked by even more federal government programs that we can’t afford.”

The senator made similar comments on Twitter later in the day, writing, “We are trillions of dollars in debt. The last thing we need is big government inserting itself in the everyday decisions of families through radical spending programs. Leave parenting to parents.”

In response to a question about whether increased government spending on child care could help address the current workforce challenges by freeing up parents to work, he said deficit spending would spark further inflation that would harm working families.

“I’m just not a big fan of the federal government’s good intentions exacerbating problems,” he said.

Johnson was in Madison Thursday talking with parents concerned about school closings and kids wearing masks. He met with Dane County parents for roughly an hour and 15 minutes, during which he said the parents told him how their children were being harmed by mask policies and the length of time students have been out of the classroom during the pandemic.

“It doesn’t seem like the school boards, the administration, the teacher’s unions are particularly responsive to their concerns, which is unfortunate,” Johnson said.

Johnson also declined to comment on Kevin Nicholson’s announcement that Nicholson is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.