Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson tells Newsmax.TV that he blames President Barack Obama for the high gas prices that have Americans scratching their heads as they dig deeper into their wallets.
“It’s kind of fulfilling the prophecy the president himself said he hoped he could accomplish, which would be a gradual increase in the cost of petroleum to lessen consumption,” the Republican lawmaker said during the exclusive interview with Newsmax.
“What has caught him by surprise is we’re not having a gradual increase. We’re having a dramatic increase and his policies have led us in large measure toward the dependence on foreign oil which has fostered this large increase in petroleum,” Isakson said.
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Isakson blames the president for leading the United States into what he describes as an energy trap. “We’ve got to change his mind, and his direction to get us out of it,” Isakson said.
For example, he said the president has stalled the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
“It’s my sincere hope that he will come to his senses and recognize that when you’re dependent on foreign importation of oil, when you have the potential of $5-a-gallon gasoline, you don’t say no to 70,000 barrels of sweet crude coming from Canada to Houston, Texas. “The president’s wrong, and he needs to change his mind and change his position.”
Oil prices have increased with the turmoil in the Middle East, largely based on uncertainty over the future, said Isakson, who called on president Obama to expand domestic oil production and come up with a plan for energy independence.
“We don’t produce enough domestically to meet our demand. We should have two-pronged attack: first is expanding our production domestically in the United States. That’s the primary one,” he said. “Secondly, not waiting until we have a crisis, like we do now, but doing it [planning] so we prevent [crises] in the future.”
The Peach State is one of 10 states where Republican voters will head to the polls on Super Tuesday this week to help decide the tempestuous GOP presidential nomination battle.
Isakson picked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to win the Georgia primary because it is considered his home state.
“Having been in Georgia for so long and representing the state he probably will carry the day,” Isakson said. “But I think Super Tuesday will be a mixed bag. I think you’ll see performances — good performances — by Mitt Romney. I think you’ll see good performances by Rick Santorum and you’ll continue to see Ron Paul corral a percentage of the vote that will make him a factor in who gets the nomination.”
Isakson accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of a “failure of leadership” that has led to legislative gridlock in the chamber. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine became the latest lawmaker to announce that she will not seek re-election, citing frustration over Washington's "atmosphere of polarization."
“We have all these temporary stopgap procedures that are going on to push decisions off until after the election,” Isakson explained. “The House of Representatives has passed a plethora of pro-jobs, pro-economic-growth bills that Harry Reid won’t even let come to the floor of the Senate.”
Isakson said he participated in a discussion on Monday in which fellow senators urged Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to bring appropriations bills to the Senate floor “so we start doing the expenditure of our money the way American families do it, sitting around the kitchen table making their priorities.”
In the absence of such measures, Isakson said continuing resolutions and omnibus appropriation bills have marked the past three years.
Even so, 2012 promises to be a year that ends with a flurry of legislative activity following the November election, he said.
“We’ve got a year that’s going to end with a lame-duck session that’s going to have to deal with the extension of tax breaks. It’s going to have to deal with the estate tax. It’s going to have to deal with the payroll tax extension. It’s going to have to deal with all of the tax extenders which are tax treatments that corporations depend on,” he said.
“We have a ton of legislation that will be pending at the end of the year, so you’re going to see a year that appears to be dysfunctional and an election that will decide our next president and then a seven-week dash to meet the end of the year deadlines that we have in terms of taxes, in terms of tax credits, in terms of tax policy and in terms of the payroll tax,” Isakson added. “It’s going to be a rush crash course at the end of the year.”
He also criticized Obama’s handling of the crisis with Iran over the rogue nation’s nuclear ambitions, and he supports a Senate resolution that stresses the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
“The president is more of a containment man than a prevention man,” Isakson observed. “The reason for the resolution is to make it quite clear that the United States of America Senate, in a bipartisan fashion, is committed to prevention of nuclear weapons getting in the hands of the Iranians — not containing it, but preventing it. I support that. I hope the president will support it because it’s the right stance for America.”
Isakson also disagreed with the Obama administration’s planned cuts to the military healthcare insurance plan, which he said are having a “depressing effect” on military families.
“What we need to do is realize we have an obligation and a contract with our veterans and if they volunteered and they served, they have earned that benefit,” Isakson said. “We may want to change it in the future for future volunteers, but not retroactively on those who served.”
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