Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Based on his tweets, statements, and outreach efforts to the news media in Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson wants the public to believe that he is, very, VERY serious about addressing the national debt.

There’s just one problem. By the numbers, he’s done a terrible job at it.

In 2011, when Johnson was sworn into office for his first term, the national debt was 95% of GDP, clocking in at nearly $15 trillion.

By 2021, ten years later, a period of time during which Johnson was a United States Senator for every single day, the national debt had nearly doubled to $29.6 trillion (124% of GDP).

The next time you hear Johnson bemoaning the national debt—or promising to do anything about it—here are a few additional facts to keep in mind:

  • Johnson’s party controlled the floor of the US Senate for more than half of that 10-year period, so this was not merely a scenario where Sen. Johnson was stuck in the minority and unable to influence legislation.
  • Johnson has served in the Senate during two presidencies, first a Democrat, then a Republican. While the national debt increased under both Obama and Trump, it is the latter who saw a disproportionate increase in the debt during just a single term – to the tune of almost $8 trillion.
  • Johnson played a central role in passing the Trump Tax Bill of 2017, which—in addition to serving as a windfall for his campaign contributors—added nearly $2 trillion to the national debt.

When Sen. Johnson talks about the national debt, remember it’s just that, talk. Those facts may be inconvenient for the senator, but they’re still the facts.