Daily Bread for 9.12.22: Ron Johnson, the Corporate Welfare Beneficiary (and Ideological Fraud)

Good morning.


Monday in Whitewater will be rainy with high of 63. Sunrise is 6:32 AM and sunset 7:09 PM for 12h 36m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 93.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6 PM

  On this day in 490 BC, the conventionally accepted date for the Battle of Marathon, the Athenians and their Plataean allies defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.

Erik Gunn reports How government aid helped Ron Johnson (‘A senator who votes against safety net programs benefited from government-sponsored financing for his business’): 

In his two terms in office, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has run hard against government spending. Since his first Senate campaign in 2010, the Oshkosh Republican has described himself as an outsider and business creator who has succeeded without government help. 

He has dismissed big-ticket bills as wasteful, telling a TV host in June that measures backed by Congressional Democrats were intended to “make more Americans dependent on government.” 

Yet in the 1980s, the company that Johnson was running at the time [Pacur] expanded by raising money under a government-sponsored financing program instead of conventional corporate bonds — a program made possible by the federal government as well as the city of Oshkosh that saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments.

The company also benefited from a direct federal grant from the city of Oshkosh to build a rail spur to serve the new factory it built in the city.


Pacur was originally founded as Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supply in 1977. In 1979, Oshkosh authorized a $1 million IRB for the company to finance its new buildings in the city. After the company was renamed Pacur, Oshkosh authorized two more IRBs to finance additional expansions: $1.5 million in 1983, and $2.5 million in 1985.

When Pacur’s use of IRBs in its early expansion was first reported in 2010, Johnson’s campaign issued a statement that defended their use: “No taxpayer money was ever involved in those bonds, nor were taxpayers ever put at risk,” said the statement, which also noted that the loans were repaid in full with interest.

But that defense sidesteps the central benefit that the company received thanks to the government program.

“Interest rates were really high in the 1980s,” [Good Jobs First nonprofit executive director Greg] LeRoy says. According to federal data, commercial corporate bonds in 1979 paid about 9.6%-10.7%. In 1983, the year of Pacur’s second IRB, those rates were 12%-13.5%. By the year of the third IRB, 1985, they had fallen only slightly, to 11.4%-12.7%.

For Pacur, however, opting for IRBs each time saved the company substantially. “IRBs would be let at about 25% less,” LeRoy says. “That’s a huge difference in your cost of money.”

 Stairway To Heaven on a fretless bass:

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