This is fresh from my email in-box:
Ron’s Telephone Town Hall THIS THURSDAY!
Ron will be hosting a telephone town hall Thursday, July 10, at 12:00 p.m. Central Time.
If you are interested in participating, email your name, phone number and city to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you sign up, Ron will give you a call Thursday morning at 12:00 p.m. Central Time.
He will talk with as many callers as he has time to answer. All callers may listen to as much of the telephone town hall as they wish.
I suspect Johnson wants to talk about his baseless lawsuit against Obamacare.
I love how his Republican colleague Sensenbrenner is still calling it a worthless stunt.
More info on the lawsuit below. I also wrote about this back in January:
Ron Johnson’s Obamacare lawsuit gets hearing in Green Bay
Green Bay — A federal judge on Monday weighed whether to keep alive a lawsuit by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson attempting to force members of Congress and their staffs to stop getting subsidies for their health insurance, one of the many flashpoints over Obamacare.
Johnson, an Oshkosh Republican, argues members of Congress and their staffs are required to get insurance on their own under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
He sued in federal court challenging a policy of President Barack Obama’s administration that allows members of Congress and their staffs to receive health coverage as they have for decades or to buy it through a federal insurance marketplace available to small businesses in the Washington, D.C., area.
After Monday’s hearing, Johnson said on the steps of the courthouse that he brought the case because he did not think the administration was implementing this aspect of Obamacare as Congress intended.
“Americans hate it when elected officials are exempt from laws,” Johnson said.
James Luh, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, is seeking to have the case thrown out, saying Johnson doesn’t have legal standing to bring the case because he isn’t harmed by the regulation. Luh represents the federal Office of Personnel Management, which set the rules for how members of Congress and their staffs can get their health insurance.
U.S. District Judge William Griesbach said at the end of Monday’s hearing that he expected to issue a written decision soon.
The Affordable Care Act requires members of Congress and staff who work for their official offices to get their health care through insurance marketplaces set up through Obamacare known as exchanges.
Johnson argued lawmakers put that requirement in place so they would be more sensitive to the experiences of their constituents who use the exchanges to buy insurance. The provision means members of Congress are supposed to get their insurance through such individual exchanges, said Johnson and his attorney, Rick Esenberg.
“Congress decided it was essential that they be in the same boat as those most affected by the law,” Esenberg said.
In a set of October 2013 regulations, the Office of Personnel Management established how members of Congress and their staffs could get benefits. It left it up to members of Congress to say whether members of their staff worked for their official office; if they did not, they would receive their insurance as an employee benefit, just as they had in the past.
Some congressional staffers are assigned to committees. However, the Office of Personnel Management left it up to individual congressmen to declare whether they had any official office staff.
Members of Congress and their official office staff can get their benefits through the small-business exchange. Johnson contended that’s preposterous because that exchange was created for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Congress has more than 11,000 employees.
Johnson and an attorney in his office, Brooke Ericson, sued in January, alleging the personnel rules violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment under the law.
Johnson argued the policies of the Office of Personnel Management — Johnson called them a “scheme” after the court hearing — make him complicit in violating the law no matter what he does. He also said his credibility would be hurt if he and his staff got their benefits in a way not intended by Congress.
But Johnson’s claims aren’t enough to confer legal standing on Johnson, Luh contended. Johnson and his staff are not getting worse benefits because of the rules, so they haven’t been harmed. Johnson also faces no penalties for how he designates which of his employees are considered to work for his official office, Luh said.
Luh also said Johnson and his staff could refuse to take the health benefits.
“The benefits they are claiming will injure them are ones that will not be given to them at all unless they claim them,” Luh said.
Johnson said he bought his health coverage directly from a private insurer, rather than going through an exchange or getting it from the federal government. He said he has a staff of about 40 and most of them are getting their insurance through the Washington business exchange.
Johnson and Ericson are being represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. That public interest law firm usually provides free legal service, but Esenberg and Johnson have said Johnson’s campaign will cover the costs under guidance from the Senate Ethics Committee.
Johnson’s campaign has not disclosed any payments to Esenberg’s firm, but in a recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service, Esenberg’s firm said it received $10,770 this year for work performed on the case last year.
The liberal group One Wisconsin Now alleges the arrangment with the law firm is not appropriate and has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. On Wednesday, the group amended its complaint because of the disclosure from Esenberg’s firm that some costs have already been paid.
The suit has caused a rift within Johnson’s party. U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls has called it “an unfortunate political stunt” that will cause top congressional staff to quit if Johnson wins.
If Congress doesn’t offer health benefits and can’t recruit the best staff, it will ultimately weaken the legislative branch and increase the power of the presidency, Sensenbrenner has argued.