A couple of political stories with connections to the plastics industry attracted my attention today. First, I noticed that Ron Johnson, president of Oshkosh, Wis., PET sheet extruder Pacur LLC, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate. If he runs, Johnson would try for the Republican nomination, and then the opportunity to take on Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold. A big potential hurdle to Johnson's plans disappeared today, when former Gov. Tommy Thompson announced at a tea party rally that he will not run for the seat. Johnson, 55, spoke recently about his interest in public office, telling the Oshkosh Northwestern that he is "deeply concerned" with the country's current direction.
"Most of us are just sitting on the side lines watching this and shaking our heads. Eventually it gets to the point where you think maybe I should just get off the sidelines," he said. "This is not a decision you take lightly. This is a big decision for someone who has led a very private life, but I think it shows, in my mind, the seriousness of the situation."The second political story comes from neighboring Minnesota, where injection molder Diversified Plastics Inc. recently hosted a visit from GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen. The purpose of his visit was to learn about the challenges affecting small businesses and discuss business issues directly with senior management and shop floor employees. Topics included the medical device tax, health-care legislation and the economy. Annette Lund, vice president of the Minneapolis-based molder, said Paulsen "was very interested in our needs and it was very apparent he was familiar with manufacturing and understands our concerns. He encouraged us to stay involved with our legislators so our opinions will be heard." Finally, I'll note a politicial-related story on PlasticsNews.com today, "Medical device makers concerned about impact of health-care reform." The story, generated from this week's Plastics in Medical Devices conference in Westlake, Ohio, notes that some medical device executives already see some potential downsides to the recently-passed health-care legislation.
"I'm not a fan of it," industry veteran Len Czuba said of the new law. "There's going to be added cost to device makers in the form of taxes. And if their profits are affected, who's going to want to invest?"It's rare to see this much interest in Washington from plastics processors in the same day. That must say something about how many in the industry feel about Congress and the Obama administration.