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The Daily Rundown
updated 6/19/2013 6:17:56 AM ET 2013-06-19T10:17:56

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said he’s encouraged by the Obama administration’s recent moves to begin arming Syrian rebel forces, but that the action may be too little, too late for the war-torn country.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said he’s encouraged by the Obama administration’s recent moves to begin arming Syrian rebel forces, but that the action may be too little, too late for the war-torn country.

“This administration has once again led from behind. They have not provided leadership,” Johnson, a Republican, said on Friday’s The Daily Rundown. “They didn’t start providing the support that might have made a difference early on. I hope it’s not too late. But possibly better late than never but I’m afraid it may be too little too late.”

Johnson also said that he would support a no fly zone because of the risk of chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands.

“It looks like we will probably initiate some kind of no fly zone near the Jordanian border,” Johnson added. “We’re in a global economy, we have global threats. We need to face up to those global threats and America needs to lead.”

Johnson has said that restoring faith in government is the “wrong solution,” and underscored again on Friday that it was necessary to limit government control.

“What I’d like to do is restore that healthy distrust so that Americans would start limiting the size of government, its influence and control over our lives,” said Johnson.

Immigration reform is also high on the Senate agenda over the next few weeks, but Johnson said that the bipartisan Gang of Eight “didn’t do good enough.” Instead, he hopes to improve the bill during the amendment process and encourage more debate.

“From my standpoint, not really the type of thoughtful process that needs to go into this incredibly complex issue,” Johnson said.

Video: Sen. Johnson urges 'healthy distrust' of government

  1. Closed captioning of: Sen. Johnson urges 'healthy distrust' of government

    >>> public trust in government, of course, is already low before the revelations on the nsa surveillance program, the irs, but one lawmaker says a healthy distrust in government is actually a good thing. take a listen --

    >> when i hear politicians talk about restoring faith in government, no, no, no, no, no, no, that is the wrong solution. we need to engender that healthy distrust, that healthy distrust that our founders found in government.

    >> joining me now is wisconsin republican senator ron johnson . by the way, who is also a member of the foreign relations committee and homeland security committee . the country has a distrust of government earlier, we were talking about the public opinion polls of congress and washington in general. is it an unhealthy distrust that they have?

    >> well, good morning, chuck. well, i think distrust of government is going to be healthy. that's certainly what our founders understood, chuck, you know, the problem i'm seeing that far too many americans are looking to the federal government to solve all their problems. but here's a news flash, the federal government was never intended, it's not designed, it's not capable of running 23% of our economy. i mean, that's how big the government is right now. and it's on a trajectory, chuck, to hit about 39% of our economy. in other words, the federal government , this entity that americans don't believe is particularly effective or efficient, that most americans understand how dysfunctional it is going on to in about 30 years consume 39 cents of every dollar that our economy produces, i think that's madness, so what i'd like to do is restore that healthy distrust so that americans will start limiting the size of government, its influence and control over our lives.

    >> okay. i want to get to this budget issue in a couple minutes. i know you had an interesting meeting with some folks at the white house , but i want to start with syria . president's decision yesterday, what he put out in the intelligence -- what the chemical weapons usage by assad , the idea of ramping up military assistance. where are you on this? how much more involved do you want to see the united states when it comes to the syrian civil war ?

    >> well, the situation in syria is dire. syria has all these chemical weapons . now the administration is admitting they've been used repeatedly with the help of iran, with the help of hezbollah, with the help of russia. the assad regime was able to take over a rebel stronghold, and now, you know, they're really -- you know, aiming their sites at aleppo. and if assad continues to use those chemical weapons or even worse, if those chemical weapons were to fall into the hands of the al qaeda rebels that are also, you know, part of that very dangerous mix and equation in syria , we've got some real trouble on our hands. and, you know, the problem is this administration has once again led from behind, they have not provided the leadership. they didn't start providing the support that might have made a difference early on. i hope it's not too late. but, you know, possibly better late than never, but i'm afraid it may be a little too little, too late.

    >> what should be the limits on u.s. support?

    >> well, let's start with trying to secure a safe haven for the good rebels, the ones that are vetted, that actually are, you know, pro-democracy as opposed to the al qaeda affiliated rebels and, you know, it's looking like we'll probably initiate some kind of no-fly zone near the jordani iaian border.

    >> and you're okay with that?

    >> yes. this is a national security issue for the united states . if those chemical weapons and the assad regime has a lot of chemical weapons , if they were to fall into the hands of al qaeda -backed rebels, that directly threats the united states of america . so, whether we like it or not, i mean, trust me, i'd like to just be an isolationist, i'd like to just not worry about the world, but we can't. we're in a global economy . we have global threats. we need to face up to those threats and america needs to lead or else we create voids and vacuums and very evil people fill those voids.

    >> i've not seen you talk much about immigration publicly in the gang of eight bill in particular. where are you on it? are you inclined to support or inclined to oppose?

    >> well, we have a horribly legal immigration system. it's not good for anybody. it's not good for americans . it's not good for our security. it's certainly not good for those 11 million people who are now hiding in the shadows who i believe the vast majority of americans are going to want to treat with humanity. a lot of these are young kids who are here through no fault of their own. but my bottom line is supporting any bill. we need to actually fix the problem so 20 years from now we're not back here having to grapple with the same issue, so that means border security . we certainly are bankrupting our nation already. we certainly can't be providing benefits to people. if people want to come in here and immigrate, let's face it, we're a nation of immigrants, they need to come here contributing, not feeding off our welfare system , so it's really borders and benefits are the strong controls we need to apply to any immigration bill .

    >> all right. so, how does the gang of eight do on those two issues?

    >> well, they didn't do good enough, so we're going to hopefully have an open amendment process here in the senate. but, again, this greatest deliberative body, you know, harry reid wants to wrap this thing up in two weeks. we haven't really voted on any amendments yet. from my standpoint, not the type of thoughtful processed that really needs to go into this incredibly complex issue. my own preference was to let the house go first, pass the individual components. border security , some sort of employment verification, a guest worker program. pass those components over to the senate. we could have put the icing on the cake in terms of the path towards some sort of legal status .

    >> let me ask you about ongoing budget talks. i know you were involved in one of those dinners with the president. i understand via the white house that i've heard that you -- you were involved with some other senators with some meetings this week. where are we on this? is there going to be the so-called grand bargain? is anything -- any progress been made?

    >> well, what i'm trying to bring to the table here is, first, defining the problem. appreciated the president reaching out and appreciate the president and his staff continuing to engage us. and, you know, i realize the white house is eager to get toward, you know, putting solutions on the table, which republicans are eager to find those solutions as well, but until we agree on the size of the problem. and what we've been doing now is trying to bust out of the ten-year budget window which really minimizes the problem and we presented 30-year projections which, chuck, they are jaw dropping, minimum 72 to over $100 trillion of deficit spending in the next 30 years because of the baby boom bubble, so we really need to define this as a 30-year problem. i think that will direct us to looking at all the entitlement programs so we can reform them to save them for future generations.

    >> this issue of ten years versus 30 years, was the white house receptive to it?

    >> i believe so. you know, we've presented our numbers a couple weeks ago. they came back this week. and they had it broken down into decade number one, decade number two, decade number three. now, they have different numbers. now our staffs are working with omb staffs to let's compare the assumptions. let's face it, we're talking about 30-year projections, nobody's going to accurately predict that, but the only way you can come to solutions is if we agree on the size of the problem. i come from business where if you're trying to buy a business and the seller has one set of books and the buyer on the other side of the table with another set, you'll never come to a successful agreement. you have to have the audited set of books.

    >> ron johnson , we have to leave it there, senator from wisconsin. we got through a lot of stuff. thank you.

    >> thanks.

    >>> up next the new developments on the worldwide search for edward snowden and just how did he manage to smuggle the top secret documents from the nsa?

    >>> but the daily trivia question. mike rogers expected to announce whether he'll run for the u.s. senate in michigan, yes or no. he said he'd do it today and we'll ask you this, who was the last sitting republican congressman from michigan to become a senator? i know who the last democratic one was, it was debbie stabenow , the first person to tweet the correct

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