Tags: Exclusive Interviews | debt | obama | isakson | failing

Isakson to Newsmax: Obama Debt Move Will Make US Failing Nation

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman   |   Tuesday, 08 Jan 2013 03:19 AM

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson tells Newsmax TV that any sole effort to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling by President Barack Obama will be “a unilateral step towards moving us toward the direction of Greece, and Italy, and Portugal, and France.”
“We need accountability in our borrowing,” Isakson, the newest GOP member of the Senate Finance Committee, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “We don’t need a blank check — and we certainly don’t need one person to unilaterally be able to raise the debt of the United States.”

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has suggested that Obama invoke the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and raise the nation’s borrowing limit instead of negotiating a deal with Congress in March. The government reached the debt ceiling on Dec. 31.

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The amendment, passed in 1868, states that the “validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
GOP legislators have said they would not agree to raise the debt ceiling without dollar-for-dollar reductions in entitlement spending, primarily on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Capitol Hill also must deal with the impending $109 billion in across-the-board cuts expected to come through sequestration. The issue was delayed for two months under the deal to stave off the fiscal cliff that was passed last week by Congress.
Still, Isakson, who now serves on the Senate Finance Committee, tells Newsmax that Obama will not be able to raise the debt ceiling without Republican support.
“We’ve got more leverage now than we had in the fiscal cliff debate, both from a standpoint of the debt ceiling as well as sequestration as well as the continuing resolution that’s coming up. All of those are issues are where we’ll have more leverage with the White House — and we do need the White House to come to the table on spending. They talk about it in thematic terms, make general promises but never come to the table specifically.
“The American people are looking for spending cuts,” he said. “They’re not looking for more revenues or more borrowing.”
Isakson, who priviously served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added that he would reserve judgment on the nominations Obama made on Monday to his national security team. They are former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as Defense Secretary and John Brennan to head the CIA, where he had worked for 25 years.
“I’m going to give both gentlemen the benefit of all doubt and go to the hearings and listen to what they’ve got to say — and make the final judgment after they’ve had a chance to both give their testimony as well as be questioned,” he said.

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Even though Isakson said he has some reservations about Hagel: “I’m going to wait to go to the hearings, listen to the testimony and the questions that are asked, but I do have concerns both on the votes against Iran’s sanctions as well as some of the statements he’s made about Israel.”
“It’s a little unusual to me that, both in the case of Susan Rice and the case of Chuck Hagel, he floated their names for weeks before making the appointment,” he added, referring to Obama. “In the Susan Rice case, he never made the nomination, but in the case of Hagel, he certainly has. I don’t know what his strategy is on either one of those two. Both of them have issues, but that’s up to the president to answer.”
Amid much GOP fire last month, the embattled Rice withdrew her name from consideration as Secretary of State to succeed Hillary Clinton. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a close confidante of the president, Rice had not yet been formally nominated for the post.

One thing Isakson is certain about, however, is his diligent support of fellow Republican Saxby Chambliss, a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Chambliss, who has represented Georgia since 2003, is being targeted by some conservatives for his early support of the fiscal cliff deal, which included tax increases on those making $450,000. His move initially ran against the no-tax pledge Chambliss signed two decades ago with Grover Norquist and his group, Americans for Tax Reform.

"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Chambliss said in November, CNN reports. "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt — and I just have a disagreement with him about that."

ATR eventually blessed the fiscal cliff deal and Norquist advocated for its passage. The anti-tax crusader and others, including Chambliss, argue that the fiscal cliff deal lowered taxes since it passed after the December 31st deadline and the Bush tax cuts had technically expired.

"This deal is far from what this country needs, but I cannot in good conscience allow taxes to be raised on all Americans and send our economy into turmoil," Chambliss said after Congress approved the deal.

Still, Chambliss is expected to face a tough re-election bid in two years.
“Saxby’s been a personal friend of mine for 50 years,” Isakson tells Newsmax. “He and I dated [women] at the Phi Mu house in University of Georgia, both married sweethearts of Phi Mu, who are still our wives to this particular day. We’ve shared a lot together.
“He’s done an outstanding job in the State of Georgia, and in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. He’s a ranking member of the Intel Committee, a valuable member of the Armed Services Committee — and I think he’s been a great senator.”

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Chambliss’ support for the fiscal deal was especially scored by the conservative blogger Erick Erickson of RedState.com.
“We’re sent to Washington to get something done,” Isakson said. “You’re measured by what it is you get done, not by the fact that you’re trying to get something done — and Saxby’s a doer. He’s a work horse; he’s not a show horse.”

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