Athens, OH 4/8/18 – U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, made the case Thursday to a group of Republican elected officials and others assembled in Athens that U.S. President Donald Trump has been great for America, and people need to support his agenda in the mid-term elections in November.
Johnson, who has represented Ohio’s Sixth Congressional District since 2010 (which includes a small part of southeast Athens County), delivered the keynote speech Thursday evening at the Athens County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner.
His speech hit on several themes: How Trump’s “Make American Great Again” agenda is benefiting America; why America stopped being “great” in the early 1970s; and how Republicans are working with Trump to get legislation passed despite “the media” trying to distort that message with stories of Republican in-fighting.
Johnson has been a staunch supporter of Trump as a candidate and president. According to politics data-tracking site FiveThirtyEight.com, he has voted in line with Trump’s position an estimated 98.6 percent of the time. Especially with Trump’s hard-line stance on policy issues such as immigration, Johnson has heaped praise on Trump.
Johnson is up for re-election this year, facing Republican Robert Blazek in the May 9 primary, and either Democrat Werner Lange or Democrat Shawna Roberts in the November general election.
Johnson, hearkening back to former President Abraham Lincoln guiding the U.S. through the Civil War, argued that America’s “greatness” was “defined” in the century between roughly 1865 and 1970.
Johnson said that while America was “up to our necks in conflict” in that period, the amount of “innovation and ingenuity” that took place arguably made it the “most unbelievably, overwhelmingly powerful innovative periods of not only American history but human history.
“The light bulb was invented; the national energy grid was created; the combustion engine was invented; the automobile, the manufacturing processes around the automobile that industrialized western cultures; the airplane; space travel, landing on the moon; internal organ transplants; nuclear power, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons; telecommunications and communicating technologies; and many, many more; all of these great marvels were brought to the world, free of charge by the United States of America,” Johnson declared.
“You see folks, we’re different,” he added. “There’s something that happens to a people that are allowed to pursue their dreams and ambitions on their own terms without an overly oppressive government breathing down their necks.”
Johnson argued that after 1970, however, government poured “water” on America’s “innovative campfire,” claiming that after that point, there were few great inventions and innovations created by America; that’s because after 1970, “big government came into play,” he claimed, with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. departments of Education and Energy, and a tax code that chose “winners and losers.”
Which brings us to the election of Trump in November of 2016, Johnson said.
“You don’t have to like what he says… but you can’t argue with the idea of returning America to that age of innovation and ingenuity,” Johnson said. “…But if you were to listen and pay attention to the news media, you would swear that the wheels are falling off in Washington D.C., and that nobody gets along with anybody else, and that Republicans are not supporting this president.”
Johnson argued that that’s not the case, however.
“The liberals and the national media have learned they cannot dethrone this president, but they can cut his legs out from under him and stop his agenda from going forward by taking his bench away from him – the legislative branch, controlled by Republicans who are supporting him,” Johnson said, arguing that media reports have overblown conflicts between Republican legislators and Trump.
Johnson argued that Trump and Republicans are working together to essentially usher in a new era of American prosperity. He claimed that:
• As of June 8, 2017, there had been more legislation “passed and signed into law” by Trump and Congress than the previous four presidential administrations at the “same point in time in the first year of their term.” (According to a PolitiFact analysis of a similar statement from Trump in December 2017, Trump actually “ranked last in legislation signed among post-World War II presidents in their first calendar year who took office in the regular four-year cycle.”)
• As of the end of June last year, more than a million jobs had been created, and by the end of 2017 two million jobs had been created, and by the end of March, three million jobs had been created, while claiming that four million jobs had been lost during the “previous administration’s” first year in office. (According to a CNN Money analysis in January, about 4.3 million jobs were lost during Obama’s first year in office, but that was after the start of the Great Recession, which carried over from President George W. Bush’s tenure; the 2.1 million jobs added to the U.S. economy in Trump’s first year compares to 2.2 million jobs added to the U.S. economy in Obama’s last year in office.)
• Johnson added that congressional Republicans using the Congressional Review Act to overrule 15 different Obama-era rules is another sign of Congress and Trump working together; prior to Trump being elected, that law (from 1996) was only successfully used once.
• Meanwhile, Johnson claimed that the Trump-supported tax-cut plan approved by the U.S. House and Senate late last year was the “greatest tax reform in nearly 50 years, and the greatest perhaps in American history.”
“Everybody cried that this is a tax cut for the wealthy, that we’re creating these big deficits,” Johnson said. “Well, did you know that if we get economic growth at even 2.5 percent, we never see these deficits because the economy grows, the tax base expands, and more people have better jobs?”
Johnson argued that Republicans will pay a hefty price if they don’t vow to work with Trump. “When I roam this district, 18 counties, all of Appalachia, last (August), I had a finger poked in my chest so many times I can’t count ’em, (with people saying) ‘if you Republicans don’t start supporting the president, you’re going to pay for it in the next go-around,’” Johnson claimed.
Johnson noted that the job of Congress is sometimes about “compromise” as he discussed the most recent budget deal signed into law by Trump in early February; he maintained that that bill contained $21 billion for infrastructure funding and targeted funding to fight the opioid crisis and to expand “broadband access” in rural areas, as well as $14 billion in “increased border security.”
Johnson concluded his speech by remarking that America is “different and blessed,” something that Trump “believes in.”
“That’s why he says let’s make America great again; we’ve always been great, and we need to continue being great,” Johnson said. “Because Donald Trump knows what all those other presidents knew; that the strength of our nation is not in our government… It’s in the indomitable spirit, the heartbeat of the American people. It’s a country where fate, family, friendship, neighborship and patriotism used to mean more than your party affiliation.”
A HOST OF STATE Republican bigwigs attended the Lincoln Day Dinner, including Ohio General Assembly representatives and senators Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, Ron Hood, R-Zanesville and Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction, as well as Keith Faber, R-84th District, who made a pitch for people to vote for him in the Ohio Auditor race.
Edwards was given the annual “Republican of the year” Ronald Reagan/Virginia Hoover Franklin Award by Athens County Republican Party Chair Pete Couladis.
“Comments I hear from people throughout this district is that he (Edwards) is everywhere,” Couladis said. “That’s a good quality for an elected official, to be available and visible.”
The dinner took place at the American Legion Hall on West Union Street.