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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tim Johnson: Time to Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

When the Republicans took over the House in 1994, they had their Contract With America. (That was the one promising term limits, forgotten by House Republicans like Tim Johnson forgot his own personal term limit pledge.)

As the Democrats are on the verge of a similarly historic victory, they have their 100 Hours, a promise of how they will "drain the swamp" of House GOP corruption and begin to implement changes that, honestly, should have had bipartisan support all along.

Voters should consider, then, how Tim Johnson will respond to these middle of the road proposals. Unfortunately, it does not look promising. Here's the Democratic agenda, and TJW's estimation of where Mr. Johnson stands:
Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation." AGAINST. What can one expect from someone who as a state legislator "asked for contributions on the floor of the Illinois General Assembly" (Kurt Erickson, "End of the tunnel in view; Campaigns almost over -- thankfully", Bloomington Pantagraph, Nov. 5, 2000), voted against a bi-partisan ethics task force, and kept Tom Delay's money while allowing his GOP colleagues to try to protect him?

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. AGAINST. Republican Chris Shays (R-CT) has proposed just such a bill (HR 5017). Johnson has refused to cosponsor the bill (though he's usually free with his cosponsorships) and the bill has been relegated by the GOP leadership to die in committee.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. FOR, BUT ONLY SORT OF. Johnson has supported increase in minimum wage, but has tied it to tax giveaways for the rich.

Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. AGAINST: Tim Johnson does talk a good game on student loans, but he voted earlier this year to increase the interest rate.

Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients. AGAINST. Tim Johnson was a decisive vote in favor of the half-trillion dollar Medicare "Modernization" Act, which narrowly passed the House 220-215 and which prevents the government from saving taxpayer money by negotiating lower prices from the drug companies.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds -- "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday. AGAINST: In May 2005, Johnson voted against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, a medical research bill championed by pro-life Republican Mike Castle (R-DE) that passed with 50 Republican votes, and doubtless would have received even more Republican support but for the aggressive opposition of Tom DeLay.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority. AGAINST: Tim Johnson came to Washington at a time of budget surpluses but has been a consistent supporter of the Bush tax policy of massive cuts for the very, very wealthy, without offsetting cuts in spending, which has caused the deficit to balloon to close to half a trillion dollars per year.
So, by all means, if you make over $250,000 and oppose stem-cell research, vote for Tim Johnson. But if, like most residents of this District, you fit into neither category, November 7 is time to tell Mr. Johnson to get out of the way.


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