The Wisconsin Republican also lauded Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) for his plan to sunset Social Security and raise taxes on most Americans.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) complained about the "liberal media" on Monday night for accurately reporting that he had suggested earlier in the day that his party needs a plan ready to repeal and replace Obamacare.
"Today's false attacks against me are just more desperate attempts by President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and their allies in the media to distract from the failures of governance," Johnson said in a press release. "As usual, they are falsely claiming I made statements I didn't make and the liberal media are dishonestly reporting their false claims."
He simultaneously claimed that the Affordable Care Act — the 2010 law commonly known as Obamacare — was a failure and that he did not mean to suggest his party should prioritize replacing it:
During a radio interview I used our failure to repeal and replace Obamacare as an example of how we need to be prepared to deliver on whatever agenda items we decide to run on. I was not suggesting repealing and replacing Obamacare should be one of those priorities. Even when we tried and failed, I consistently said our effort should focus on repairing the damage done by Obamacare and transitioning to a health system that works. I reiterated the necessity to fix our health care system in that interview and COVID-19 has exacerbated these failures.
In reality, Johnson was asked by the right-wing website Breitbart what Republicans should do if they win back a majority in 2022. He answered that they should spend two years trying to obstruct President Joe Biden's agenda and then, if they control government fully after 2024, "make good on what we established as our priorities."
Without prompting, Johnson volunteered Obamacare repeal as one necessary priority, saying, "For example, if we were going to repeal and replace Obamacare — OK, I think we still need to fix our health care system — we need to have the plan ahead of time so that once we get in office, we can implement it immediately, not knock around like we did last time and fail."
Johnson ran originally in 2010 on a "repeal and replace" promise.
An archived version of his 2010 campaign site's issue section — since scrubbed — said, "Ron will vote to repeal the Health Care Bill and replace it with market-based solutions that will include: portability, malpractice reform, mandate reduction, insurance purchase across state lines, lower costs, and a safety net for those with pre-existing conditions."
In 2017, he repeatedly voted for proposals to scrap the popular law and reiterated that he had not given up on finding a way to do so even after the GOP majority failed to reach an agreement on any path forward.
On Monday, his own campaign communications director acknowledged that Johnson continues to oppose the law that currently provides health insurance coverage to 31 million Americans.
"There seem to be a lot of folks on Twitter Dot Com who are surprised that a Republican Senator who opposed Obamacare still doesn't like Obamacare," tweeted Jake Wilkins. Asked specifically by a New York Times reporter whether Johnson supports repealing and replacing the law, Wilkins responded only by criticizing newspaper headlines and reiterating, "He said in that interview the system needs to be fixed."
A Johnson spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry for this story.
Since announcing in January that he will break his promise to limit himself to two terms in the Senate and seek reelection this November, Johnson has repeatedly sought to blame his problems and his declining popularity on the press.
Asked in late January about his then-35% approval rating in Wisconsin, Johnson argued, "It's not surprising that, having withstood a year's worth of attacks from the legacy media, which again is pretty much the communication apparatus for the Democrat Party, that, you know, maybe my poll numbers have slipped." A new Marquette University Law School poll released last Wednesday showed his favorability has since dropped to 33%.
Last month, Johnson launched what he called a "paid effort to expose bias in the mainstream media and false liberal attacks being launched against him" and called CNN, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "advocates for the Democrat [sic] Party."
In Johnson's Breitbart interview Monday and his follow-up statement, he also lauded National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott's 11-point plan for what a GOP majority in Congress would do if they are successful in the 2022 midterm elections.
Scott's plan includes a federal tax hike for most Americans and calls for sunsetting every single federal law after five years — meaning that vital programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would be eliminated unless Congress agreed to renew them twice each decade.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.