Ron Johnson, the supposed "pulled-up-by-his-own-bootstraps" GOP candidate in Wisconsin, the guy who has benefitted from all sorts of government help in creating his business, keeps that business going by using prison labor that he doesn't have to pay benefits for.
Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson, who has campaigned against government subsidies to business, employs up to nine prison inmates at his plastics factories whose health care costs are paid by the state, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
Johnson, a political newcomer challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, is running as a businessman and job creator who opposes subsidies as government interference in the free market. He holds a slight lead in the race, according to recent polls.
Public records show that Pacur Inc. and Dynamic Drinkware LLC, two companies run by Johnson, employ up to nine inmates at a time through a state Corrections Department jobs program.
Johnson's companies offer private health insurance to the regular employees at the Oshkosh factories. But Melissa Roberts, an executive assistant with the Corrections Department, said the companies don't have to cover the inmate workers. "The benefit is that they don't have to pay health benefits," she said.
Health industry statistics indicate that companies spend an average of about $10,000 per worker a year for insurance.
A job creator who's using prison labor instead of hiring out-of-work Wisconsinites, for whom he'd have to pay benefits. Johnson says the primary reason he's running for the Senate is to repeal health reform. In the meantime, he's just figuring out ways to get out of providing it for his employees. This anti-government crusader is, yet again, taking advantage of a government program to boost his profits.
Russ Feingold debates Johnson tonight, and hopefully this--and all of the big breaks Johnson has received from the government he rails against--will be a primary topic. The debate starts at 9:00 EDT, and will be on C-SPAN.