Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both Republicans, addressed the economy, the state of the Republican party, the direction of the country and President Obamas first 100 days, among other issues.
Here are their responses to some of the issues posed by The Chronicle:
President Obamas first 100 days:
Everyone knew what Mr. Obama wanted to do when he ran for president, Mr. Isakson said.
I dont think anybody in Washington expected him to put all of it on the table in the first 90 days, he said, adding concerns about some of the actions the president has taken. Government does a lot of things well. Running a business isnt one of them.
His concerns extended to Mr. Obamas budget, especially with the backdrop of the nations 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 $897 billion stimulus package as an example of ill-advised spending.
Mr. Chambliss also said the presidents mantra of change hasnt always been apparent, especially when it comes to his cabinet members, which includes lobbyists and some who hadnt paid taxes when they were nominated.
The direction the country is headed:
Constituent calls to Mr. Chambliss office have usually involved the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but a significant number is now about the direction of the country, the senator said. The actions of today are drastically shaping the countrys future.
Were 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 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 wont 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 havent improved the economy and have actually made conditions worse, he said. President Bush tried it, and it didnt 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.
State of the Republican party:
Mr. Chambliss said Republicans need to establish an agenda to move forward.
Right now, I cant tell you what our agenda is, and Im right in the middle of it, he said.
But the Democratic majority in Congress isnt 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 arent the party of 'No.
This business of were 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.