Isakson: Economy, spending key issues

Sen. Johnny Isakson

Sen. Johnny Isakson

ALBANY, Ga. — As the General Election comes closer, a lot is at stake.

In a Friday meeting with The Albany Herald Editorial Board, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Atlanta, noted that the economy as well as the nation’s budget situation continue to be key issues going into the election in November.

On the heels of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, businesses are still uncertain about where to invest resources, prompting them to keep what they have in the bank.

“Everybody is mad at Congress,” the senator said. “There is a high level of frustration, and a high level of concern.

“Even though the recession has been over since 2009, in practical terms, it has been going on since 2007.”

As soon as the Nov. 6 election is over, Isakson indicated there will be an increased focus on the fiscal crisis the country is currently facing.

“Congress can’t look the other way. We know what the solution is,” he said. “We need to do what American people have done and tighten our belts.”

Looking at Georgia as a whole, the southern half has a better outlook than north Georgia, Isakson argued, because of the impact the housing market downturn has had on the carpet industry in the Dalton area.

“North Georgia has more difficulty than south Georgia,” he said. “We have had three or four good years of agriculture, and that has helped buoy the economy.”

Isakson also indicated that there was a boost on the horizon for the nation’s manufacturing industry, as some off-shore jobs in that area are beginning to come back.

“If we get our act together (on the spending issue), others will be breaking down the doors to get here,” he said.

Another important issue facing Congress will be the pending military sequestration, a concept referring to the $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts drawn into budget legislation passed last year.

After the “Super Committee” failed last year to come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts, a trigger that was part of the 2011 Budget Control Act was activated that — on Jan. 2, 2013 — would mandate that amount in cuts be imposed on top of cuts required by a spending freeze at 2011 levels.

“With potential threats (including Syria, as well as others), we don’t need have an across-the-board cut to the military,” Isakson said. “I’m disappointed in the Super Committee that they would blink and look the other way.”

Another issue likely to have an impact on the presidential campaign this year, which has been described by some as one of the dirtiest, is the comments U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, made recently suggesting that such things as date rape, statutory rape or anything other than rape by physical force or rape carried out at gunpoint or knifepoint does not “legitimately” qualify as rape — and that “real” rape involving force would not result in pregnancy.

Akin is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate against incumbent U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat. While he has apologized for the comments, saying that he misspoke, there have been calls even from Republicans for Akin to pull out of the race.

Isakson was of a similar frame of mind.

“What he said was reprehensible. It reflected a great deal of ignorance,” he said. “I have always believed in exceptions (for rape or the health of the mother when it comes to abortions or women’s rights).

“How long (these comments) remain an issue depends on how long he is a candidate.”

This was Isakson’s second visit to Southwest Georgia this month. It came just days before the Republican National Convention, which is set to take place Monday-Thursday in Tampa, Fla.