Americans are worried about “three I’s” right now: inflation, immigration, and general incompetence, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., says.
Citizens across the country are “deeply concerned about grocery prices and the price of fuel to fill up the gas tank,” Johnson says. “And they see the wave of illegal migrants coming over the border, and they don’t see any end to it. They’re frustrated with us for our inability to do anything about it right now.”
The Louisiana Republican joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss what he and other conservative lawmakers are doing to address these “three I’s,” and how the Biden administration has failed to tackle the challenges America faces.
Also on today’s show, we cover these stories:
- Florida takes a stand against potentially “irreversible” transgender treatments for children.
- Florida state senators vote to repeal a special tax district that allowed Walt Disney Co. self-governance over the land where Disney World is located.
- Two Republican senators request Secretary of State Antony Blinken move the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine to Kyiv, the capital.
Listen to the podcast below, or read the lightly edited transcript.
Rob Bluey: We’re joined on “The Daily Signal Podcast” today by Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana. Thank you so much Congressman.
Rep. Mike Johnson: Hey, it’s great to be with you. Thank you for having me.
Bluey: You’ve had some time over the last few days to be back in Louisiana, talk to your constituents. I feel like sometimes in Washington, we get detached from what’s going on in real America. Tell us what’s on their minds.
Johnson: Well, you can imagine, turn on the news every night as my constituents do, and they’re very alarmed. I call it the “three I’s” right now, Rob. It’s inflation, immigration, and general incompetence. And that’s what they see from the White House, from the Democrats in charge of Congress.
And frankly, they’ve had enough. They’re very deeply concerned about grocery prices and the price of fuel to fill up the gas tank. And they see the wave of illegal migrants coming over the border and they don’t see any end to it. They’re frustrated with us for our inability to do anything about it right now, but they’re very much looking forward to the election cycle coming up.
Bluey: Let’s talk about those in that order. So inflation, it seems that there’s a disconnect in Washington from what’s going on, in part because the policies that this administration keeps putting forward, including more government spending, really, it doesn’t seem to be addressing the issue. What are the best solutions?
Johnson: Let’s get back to basics. The Trump administration is a stark example of this. We have implemented the policies we have believed in since our youth as conservatives. The basic philosophy of individual liberty and less regulation, lower taxes, and more freedom is the foundation. These are the fundamentals.
As we all know, the Biden administration started immediately after he was inaugurated. I mean literally the opposite.
So it’s a heavy regulatory burden they’re putting on businesses, obviously, with all of the shutdowns and occasioned by COVID and everything that followed. It was a very difficult environment to run a business in. Many reasons are cited for why job creators, innovators, businesses, and the industry are really struggling.
On top of that, they’ve had this massive growth of government and government spending, as we’ve seen. We all know what the result will be. Inflation is a natural outcome of dropping $9 Trillion into the economy.
So we’re seeing the effects of this. It was entirely predictable, and much of the damage was avoidable. But they’re showing no sign right now, Rob, of slowing down or reversing course at all. They’re going to continue to double down on this. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating for the people.
Bluey: They are. You come from an energy-producing nation.
Bluey: Many Americans in this country pay more for gasoline than $4. What steps would you like to see the administration take to increase domestic production if they were so inclined?
Johnson: Well, we are beating every drum available to us to sound that alarm and demand that action, but of course they’ve done nothing. They’ve made it so difficult in the industry. …
As we say in Louisiana, it’s as if the Biden administration declared war on the oil and gas industry, on all fossil fuels. We know why, because there’s a radical environmentalist element that’s pushing the party further left and they’re making demands to the White House, but he acted accordingly.
I mean, within the first 24 to 48 hours of his administration, these infamous executive order were issued. He killed the Keystone pipeline, which is 40,000 jobs and would’ve been a big part of eliminating this crisis. He placed a moratorium on federal production on federal lands. And that’s not just on the land, but is of course offshore as well.
Louisiana being the energy-rich state that it is, this was devastating for us and our economy as well as our jobs. And he’s taken so many actions since to just make it exceedingly difficult for these businesses to stay alive. Many of them have gone out-of-business.
So it’s going to take a while for us to rebuild that domestic production as we desperately need and must have. They are unwilling to do that. There’s some signals the last 24 hours that they—”Oh, we may back off a little bit on the federal moratorium.” But it won’t be enough. It won’t be soon enough, certainly. And we’re going to have this pain at the pump for some time.
Bluey: And it’s not only affecting Americans who are filling up their gas tanks, but it’ll also have a dramatic impact on food prices.
Bluey: Because food can only be produced if energy is used. Connect the dots for us. What can Americans look forward to in the months ahead, when they see higher grocery prices?
Johnson: Well, the economist that we speak to, the farmers in our districts, I have a big agriculture district in Louisiana, they’re deeply concerned about this. They can see the train coming. It’s going to get worse. I don’t see anything that the White House or the Democrats in power are doing to change this trajectory. And it’s an ominous one.
So commodity prices will continue to rise because of all of these, the factors that we’re talking about. We see no end in sight.
Plus, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s aggression on Ukraine—of course, Ukraine being the bread basket of that part of the country, of the world, that will have an ongoing effect as well on food prices also.
And so we’ve got supply chain issues. We’ve got the cost of fuel, the energy burdens, and all the rest. We’re in for some dark days until this next election cycle, unfortunately, and sadly. And there’s very little that we can do to stop it at this point.
Bluey: You brought up the issue of immigration. Bluey: There is a big deadline in May.
The administration has preemptively announced that it’s planning to end Title 42, which was keeping so many sick—whether from COVID or other illnesses—immigrants, illegal immigrants out of this country. This is on top of hundreds of thousands who have already crossed the border during the Biden administration’s oversight.
What are the steps that you’re planning to take in Congress to hold this administration accountable?
Johnson: They have not allowed us intervene because we have a united government with the Democrats in control of both the White House & both Houses of Congress.
We have drafted all kinds of legislation. We have a lot of it. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, holds all cards. She will not assign our legislation any committee to be heard or vetted, amended, or processed. You are not allowed vote on this on the floor.
We’ve attempted discharge petitions to force a vote on the floor. We don’t have enough signatures. This is the great curse to being in the minority right at the moment. And so, in so many ways, we’re just helpless as this happens.
It is impossible not to stress the importance of the immigration crisis. It is something you know, we talk about it all of the time. This is the real existential threat to the nation.
If you don’t have a border, you don’t have sovereignty, you don’t have a nation at all. And the idea that 200,000-plus illegals came to that border in March alone, it’s much larger than the population of the third-largest city in Louisiana, the largest city in my district.
This is something that everyone needs to realize. This is not a sustainable trajectory and it’s going to lead to all sorts of negative consequences for many, many years to come.
Bluey: I think it’s interesting that even some Senate Democrats perhaps worried about their own electoral prospects seem to be signaling that they’re fed up with these open border policies as well.
Johnson: Johnson, well, Title 42 repealing is a crazy idea. Johnson: This Title 42 repeal is a crazy idea. [former President]Donald Trump did during the COVID Crisis, which prevented 1.7 Million people from coming into the country. They were able turn them away because it was the last tool they had.
So if Title 42 is removed, Border Patrol agents inform us that there will be no Border Patrol. They’ll be border processing agents. They’ll only be able to take the people, give them their basic needs, and send them out throughout the country.
We’ll not be able to track these folks, we won’t know who got in. Fox News requested the Freedom of Information Act and it revealed that at the most 21 to 23 terrorists had been apprehended at the border in the last year. We don’t know how many people actually made it in, or how they got away. It’s a really frightening prospect.
The Biden administration again shows no desire to do anything about this. They don’t even care enough to visit the border. President [Joe]Biden has never seen it. That’s all you need to know. [Vice President] Kamala Harris is supposedly the czar of this, she’s completely clueless and everybody knows it. It seems deliberate.
And that’s what the people back home are saying to me, “Why would they do this?” And my only conclusion is, and I challenge anybody to give a better explanation, they want to turn these people into voters eventually, as some last-ditch effort to hold onto power. And it’s a sinister, sinister operation.
Bluey: Yeah. It certainly seems that’s the case. Your constituents are becoming more frustrated when it comes down to incompetence or ineptitude in addressing these issues. We can see this in the poll numbers. What’s it going to take? Is there going to be a wake-up call that this administration will recognize that we’re heading down the wrong path?
Johnson: I wish that you and I could answer this question. I’m asked that question all the time. The first question my constituents ask is, “Who’s actually running the country?” Because they don’t believe President Biden is competent, capable of doing so.
My answer is I’m not a 100% sure, but I do believe it’s a combination of activist groups and leftist organizations and prior candidates who were on that stage with him, wanting to get the nomination that he got. He made many promises to his party’s radical fringes, and he is keeping them to their peril. However, he shows no signs that he will reverse it. So I don’t know.
I think that they’re clearly seeing the same polling that we are. Right, left, center. They’re saying this isn’t going to be a red wave election year, this is going to be a red tsunami. Yet, they keep increasing their efforts to double down. So I don’t know. I wish we could know the answer because my family back home wants it so badly.
Bluey: I think that another issue that will be on voters’ minds come November is the question of life.
Bluey: This is a huge year with a Supreme court case likely coming down in June. Recently, you took part in a joint action with several House colleagues on the issue “life” when it comes to Citigroup. Can you tell our audience the backstory and why you decided that you would team up with them in calling for the House’s termination of its contract with Citigroup.
Johnson: Yes. My colleagues signed onto a letter that was sent to the chief administrator of the House of Representatives. The demand is that the House cease doing business with Citigroup. Citigroup is an apparently big woke corporation that is directly engaged in the culture war.
They sent out a brief statement in advance of the shareholder, stakeholder meeting they were having around two weeks ago. And they announced that they’re going to allow for their employees, the employees of Citi, this giant financial institution, they’ll pay for their travel services to go get abortions over state lines.
So they’ll traverse many of the states who have taken extraordinary action to defend the sanctity of human life. And they’ll thwart the intention of those laws and they’ll pay to have employees travel and do that.
Citi has the right if they so desire, but I believe that they have forfeited the right of doing business with the House of Representatives. The sole financial institution that handles all the credit cards for our offices, that’s how we pay for travel and office supplies and all the various costs of—
Bluey: I can imagine a huge contract.
Johnson: A huge contract. This is the free marketplace. We should have the freedom to choose. Remember that, and you know well, we’ve had a long-standing policy in the House of Representatives to not allow one red cent of taxpayer dollars to fund any abortion service or travel therefore.
This is not a casual connection. It is obvious that taxpayer dollars would go directly to a company which then funds illegal abortion. This is a simple decision for us.
We’re going to continue to sound the alarm. I can promise you that this will change once we take control of the next election cycle. But we may be able do it sooner than expected.
Bluey: Another issue where you’ve really sounded the alarm is on China. This issue is also covered by legislation. I know Congress is going to be discussing this issue and is currently examining the COMPETES Act.
Where do you see us going with our policy toward China in the future? And where would you like to see this administration maybe take a different tact as they recognize that China’s not the friendly ally that maybe was once intended to be?
Johnson: No, the scary thing about China is, if you ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff or top military officials in the country, “What is the greatest threat to America?”, first, they say the national debt, which is an entirely different podcast conversation. China is also a threat. People think Russia right now, but it’s really China.
They will soon be, very, very likely to be, a peer-to–peer competitor for ours. We haven’t had one of those since World War II. We’re the last superpower on the Earth. It is possible to maintain this superiority, but it must be done deliberately and forcefully.
[Former President] Ronald Reagan’s doctrine of peace through strength is what we’ve always adhered to and he always explained, because weakness invites aggression, everyone can see that now in vivid color.
The White House and the Biden administration have shown weakness, which has attracted the wolves. So all of our adversaries, China, Russia, Iran and North Korea see this opportunity. Not only on the military front, but also in economics and all other aspects.
China is seizing the opportunity. We have to take that very seriously, and we’re concerned that the White House does not.
We have one of our task forces in the House—we’re working toward planning for when we do get the majority, which we expect will happen in November. One of our task force members has been working on the China threat, the China challenge, for more than a year and half.
And we’re going to roll out a series of policies here in the next few months to have specific ideas on what we should be doing that, frankly, we are not under the Biden administration. And I’m anxious to roll out all those ideas because we want the American people to be conversant about this and to understand how very serious this threat really is.
Bluey: Take a moment to tell our audience about the task force and what you’re doing. I think it’s so important for the American people to see what your agenda is and what your plans would be should you have the opportunity to be in the majority again.
Johnson: Yeah. It’s not difficult for us to say what we’re against, what we need to be doing, of course, is saying what we would do differently and what’s better.
And I’m a policy guy. You’re a policy guy. We spend a lot more time in the weeds. This must be prepared and made easy to understand for the American people. There’s so many things that we need and want to do and are preparing to do, but you have to present it in a way where people can understand and get it, especially during an election cycle.
So we’ve been working on all of that.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader and minority leader, is very likely to be the Speaker of the House. But we decided—I’m the vice chairman of the House Republicans and the leadership team. We decided to split everyone into task teams and working groups.
And so all of our members in the House Republican Conference have been working on these proposals and sets of policies and plans that we’re going to roll out to the American people by mid-summer, late summer, going into the election cycle in the fall.
Everyone remembers fondly what they were able to do. [former House Speaker] Newt Gingrich was able to do in the ’90s with the Contract with America. He’s one of many advisers who are helping us with all this.
This will be called the “Commitment to America”. Same principle, same concept, but we’re going to roll out what we’re for, answers to all the greatest challenges facing the country. Not just to say what we’re against, it’s obvious what the other team is doing so badly, we’re excited to tell the American people how our solutions and our answers are the best.
We believe in individual freedom and limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets and human dignity. The current team is almost doing the exact opposite of each one of these core principles.
So it’s time for us to flex some muscle, to speak with clarity and conviction and consistency about why that conservative worldview is right for the country, for individuals, for communities, for all of us together. We are eager to engage in that discussion.
Bluey: Bluey, thank you so much for being part of the team and helping to lead this conversation. Your final question is about policy. Let’s get personal. You’re the father of four kids. You’re married to a former schoolteacher. I know that family’s a big and important issue for you. You and your wife just launched a podcast. This is great news! Tell your listeners about it, and how they can subscribe.
Johnson: Yeah, thanks. It was five weeks ago that we started it. In fact, episode six was just released this week. And we’re excited. We call it “Truth be Told with Mike & Kelly Johnson.”
Kelly’s a former schoolteacher, now she’s a licensed Christian counselor. My background is in constitutional and now in Congress. People often ask us, and you probably get the same question, Rob, friends and constituents, “We would love to be a fly on the wall at the dinner table at the Johnson household on a regular normal night.” We decided to turn that into a broadcast.
And it’s been very well received. We’re super excited about the reception for it. It’s Mike and Kelly Johnson. You can Google that, it’s on all the podcast platforms. And it’s performed very, very well. We’re getting all sorts of encouraging feedback from around the country. So we’re excited.
We have a special guest. The podcast’s basic idea is to discuss current events and hot topics from a Christian, conservative perspective. We also have access to the most influential people in politics, government, culture, and church.
And so we’ve had some very compelling voices already, many lined up. I can’t wait to roll out each episode every week. But it’s been a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun, so thanks for asking.
Bluey: You bet. We’ll be sure to leave a link so our audience can subscribe right away. Thank you again Congressman Mike Johnson for being here today on The Daily Signal. We also want to thank you for your leadership at the House. We appreciate it. And I think so many Americans are looking to you and to your colleagues for the answers because they’re frustrated right now. We are grateful for your help in pointing them to the right solutions.
Johnson: Thank you, The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation and everyone else involved. This is our moment. All the history and everything that’s come to this point. This is a pivotal moment for the country. And I’m so grateful that you guys are on it. Keep doing what you’re doing. As you know, that is what we depend on.
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