Tim Johnson Watch

Representative Tim Johnson was elected to represent the residents of Illinois' 15th Congressional District in Central Illinois. His constituents should know what he's doing.

Location: 15th Congressional District, Illinois, United States

A concerned citizen of Central Illinois.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More on Johnson's Anti-Stem Cell Research Extremism

In May, TJW reported on Johnson's vote against the bipartisan stem cell research bill that passed the House. Whether motivated by ideological extremism or fealty to DeLay, the vote was indefensible when millions are suffering from diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease, and nunerous other ailments that may be helped with stem cells.

In case you thought Johnson's position was somehow just mainstream conservative politics, consider yesterday's statements by Dr. Bill Frist, the firmly pro-life Senate Republican leader:
"While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early stage, the limitations put in place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases," Mr. Frist says, according to a text of the speech provided by his office Thursday evening. "Therefore, I believe the president's policy should be modified." (Emphasis added.)
A lot of people would like to see pro-life and pro-choice politicians finding common ground. I cannot think of a better place to do so than stem-cell research, which offers the promise of saving and improving many lives. I am pleased that Dr. Frist has sought this common ground, and disappointed that Mr. Johnson has chosen to align himself with the most extreme ideologues at the expense of the health of his constituents.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hope You Don't Work Anywhere Dangerous....

Tim Johnson's activities last week included down-the-line support for HR 739, 740, 741, and 742, a quartet of conservative bills aimed at weakening OSHA protections for worker safety.

For example, 742 imposes a penalty on the government (i.e., taxpayers) of a business's attorney's fees if the government loses a case (and the business has fewer than 100 employees and is worth less than $7 million), even if the government's position was "substantially justified" or "special circumstances make an award unjust". Why would we want to discourage enforcement of worker safety by penalizing actions to enforce worker safety? Why, in a time of major deficits, would we want to give taxpayer money to businesses in cases where the government has acted in a way that is "justified" and the award is "unjuust"?

740 allows President Bush to pack the three-member Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ("OSHRC"), which is supposed to be an independent agency (i.e., it is not subservient to the President in the way that, say, the Department of Defense is), with two new members. OSHRC decisions don't get a lot of attention, but if you work in a dangerous job it could make a lot of difference to you whether the Chairman appointed by Bush gets two more votes for his position (which lost 2-1 in March) that OSHA can't require manufacturers to inspect concealed areas of industrial equipment in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations.

(Here's the Washington Post's rundown on these bills.)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Weekly Round Up

I did not object to any of Mr. Johnson's votes this week. Congress is on recess this week for the Fourth of July. TJW will keep you updated on doings in Washington when the House returns to session next week.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Glad You're Enjoying It, Mr. Johnson....

TJW has posted before on Tim Johnson's promise to serve only three terms, which he is reneging upon by running for reelection next year.

A concerned citizen reminds TJW of this television ad, which was run for Johnson during the tight 2000 primary:
The ad, entitled "Tractors," shows a farmer explaining that "Republican Tim Johnson supports term limits. For Johnson, three terms in Congress in enough — then it's back home. I like that, because it means we can trust Johnson to fight for smaller government and lower taxes — just like he's done in the General Assembly." (Emphasis added.)
Johnson himself made similar statements:
Johnson recently wrote an open letter to the citizens of Illinois outlining his commitment to term limits. In that letter, Johnson states, "This [term limits] pledge sends a message to the citizens of my district that their interests and concerns are foremost in my votes and day to day activities as a congressman. I will be looking out for the interests of my constituents, not the special interests of Washington, who often dictate the votes of career politicians." (Emphasis added.)
So, can we take Mr. Johnson at his word? Does Johsnon breaking his pledge "mean we can't trust Johnson"? Does it mean that he's become a "career politician" "looking out for" "the special interests in Washington" rather than his constituents"?

Well, at least he had a a good explanation for the reversal -- he's having too much fun!
“I made a mistake,” Johnson said. “I thought I could be an effective congressman under this pledge, and I think I have been, but in terms of assignments, committee and subcommittee assignments and what I can do for the district, I have learned that the pledge is limiting my effectiveness.” ...

I found out I enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would,” he said. (Emphasis added.)
The News-Gazette points out that Johnson was a state legislator for 24 years and even sponsored term-limit legislation in the legislature. The notion that he was somehow unaware of the importance of seniority when he made his pledge is just not plausible. In other words, he lied.

Let's remember the words Mr. Johnson ran on in 2000:
For Johnson, three terms in Congress in enough — then it's back home.