Senators sound off on hot-button issues

U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both Georgia Republicans, spoke with The Augusta Chronicle on Friday. Here are their responses to some of the nation's hot-button issues:



Everyone knew what Mr. Obama wanted to do when he ran for president, Mr. Isakson said.

"I don't think anybody in Washington expected him to put all of it on the table in the first 90 days," he said, voicing concerns about some of the actions the president has taken. "Government does a lot of things well. Running a business isn't one of them."

His concerns extended to Mr. Obama's budget, especially with the backdrop of the nation's growing debt compared to its gross domestic product.

"It taxes too much, it spends too much and it borrows too much," Mr. Isakson said of the budget.

His colleague shared the concerns, pointing to the $787 billion stimulus package as an example of ill-advised spending.

Mr. Chambliss also said the president's mantra of change hasn't always been apparent, especially when it comes to his cabinet members, who include lobbyists and some who hadn't paid taxes when they were nominated.


Constituent calls to Mr. Chambliss' office have usually involved the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but a significant number are now about the direction of the country, the senator said.

The actions taken today are drastically shaping the country's future.

"We're going to be an entirely different country than any American has ever seen before," he said.

Both senators agreed that the April 15 Tea Parties held throughout the nation are representative of the frustrations of average people.

Mr. Chambliss said it will be interesting to see how the movement evolves.

"I think there was a lot of pent-up frustration and anger that is still there," he said. "I think there is going to be a lot more anger the longer this goes."


"It is in no way creating jobs," Mr. Chambliss said, adding that the money won't be there after two years to sustain any job creation.

Mr. Isakson said the stimulus money will increase funding for programs but will not increase jobs.

The stimulus packages in the past haven't improved the economy and have actually made conditions worse, he said.

President Bush tried it, and it didn't work.

Mr. Chambliss said the health of the economy hinges on fixing the housing market, and without making those repairs the economy will never recover.


Mr. Chambliss said Republicans need to establish an agenda to move forward.

"Right now, I can't tell you what our agenda is, and I'm right in the middle of it," he said.

But the Democratic majority in Congress isn't solid, the senator said, adding that Democrats up for re-election might begin voting against their party.

Despite the perception portrayed in the media, Mr. Isakson said Republicans aren't the "party of 'No.' "

"This business of we're the party of 'No' is wrong," Mr. Isakson said, listing Republican proposals, including ways to address the housing market and ways to stimulate the economy.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or