Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, told CNBC on Thursday he hoped the Republican Party would retain control of the U.S. Senate to counterbalance proposals from Democrats.
“I think a balanced government, where each party has the opportunity to bring their best ideas and propose their best solutions, is better for the country as a whole than if the country is in the hands of one party,” Johnson said in “Squawk Box “. “With the country in party hands, I would say that aggressive party behavior tends to prevail, and it seems to be moving us back to this … zero-sum game where my win is your loss.”
Johnson’s remarks come ahead of next month’s Georgia Senate runoff elections that will determine the balance of power in the upper chamber. For the GOP to remain in control, only one Republican has to win, as the party currently has a 50-48 seat advantage. Senator David Perdue faces Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, while Senator Kelly Loeffler faces Democrat Raphael Warnock.
The Democrats retained control of the House of Representatives in the November election despite losing a few seats, and captured the White House after President-elect Joe Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump.
Johnson, who has donated many times to Democrats in the past, said ahead of the presidential election he was unsure of Biden’s policies, particularly around corporate taxes and the pandemic. “Wherever I come out as a businessman, I’m going to bring the devil I know over the devil I don’t know at any time of the week,” Johnson said, though he didn’t directly support Trump in the September 30 interview with CNBC.
On Thursday, Johnson said he believes there will be “more sensible dialogue” in Washington when it comes to passing laws and addressing other issues in the country if Republicans stick with the Senate. As evidence, he pointed to the bipartisan proposal by a group of Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.
“People like [Democratic Sen.] Joe Manchin and others from the Democratic Party and others from the Republicans said, “You know, we have to work together for the country. We have to work together for business, and we definitely have to work for people who have lost their rights in years, ”said Johnson, founder and chairman of investment firm The RLJ Companies.
Before serving as Vice President under former President Barack Obama, Biden was a longtime Democratic Senator from Delaware. He has often touted his experience and desire to work with Republicans on compromise laws, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.
“I’ll take him at his word that he’s someone who can reach across the aisle,” Johnson said of Biden. “He can talk to Republicans. He can talk to the liberal wing of his party to reconcile them when they’re too lost. So these are the things I’m looking for.”
Another thing Johnson said he hopes Biden will be able to do is assisting black-owned companies affected by the coronavirus and the economic fallout from the pandemic. He suggested that Biden organize a meeting of business groups and financial institutions to develop a support plan.
“They’re throwing in a terrible pandemic that is devastating the economy for much of the country. Black companies will be the first to get into a deep recession and depression, and they can’t recover without capital, and I don’t think so. You need to take the concept of direct grants to these companies, “Johnson said.