News Releases

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Isakson Urges Senate to Continue America's Economic Growth
by Making Tax Cuts Permanent

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) today spoke on the Senate floor in support of Republican efforts to reign in spending and make President Bush's tax cuts permanent. Isakson was responding to speeches by Senate Democrats criticizing the Republican leadership over tax cuts and spending priorities.

"I had not intended to come to the floor today, but I passed my television set in my office and I caught the preceding speech regarding American priorities and certain allegations regarding the leadership at both ends of Pennsylvania. And I just felt compelled for a second to try to answer some of the rhetorical questions that were asked but never really responded to in the speech.

"If I heard it right - and I could be corrected - one of the questions was - quote - 'I don't understand what we're trying to accomplish.' And it was stated in the context of extending the tax cuts, and I presume it is the tax cuts the House passed to extend capital gains and dividends. I'll assume for a second that's part of them. There may have been others and I'll address others. But I thought it was time at least for those who might be watching and listening today to understand there are two distinct philosophies in Washington DC. One has just been characterized and it is my hope I'll be able to characterize the other.

"Mr. President, when George Bush took office at the beginning of his first term, this country was moving into a serious recession that was realized shortly after that term began. Then on the 11 th day of September, in the year 2001, America had the most unbelievable heinous attack upon us that has ever been perpetrated -- even worse both in toll but also in tragedy than that at Pearl Harbor. That event, on top of the declining economy, which was inherited in large measure by this Administration, this President and in turn, this Congress, set on a new course to do two things. One was to empower the great economic engine of America, which is American business and free enterprise. And we do so by strategically passing legislation in terms of tax cuts and changes in tax policy that would empower American business, offer the incentives for more jobs and bring us out of economic difficulties we were having.

"And Mr. President, I will submit to you that that is precisely what has happened. If you look at the last five years, we have gone from a period of recession - which began in 1999 and peaked probably in 2000, 2001 - and since we've continued to climb and improve. Why have we done so? We've done so because we empowered the American businessperson and the American employer and the American employee by allowing them to keep a little more of their business and invest in this country, spend it in discretionary funding, buy a new home. Economic enterprise breeds economic enterprise, which breeds economic enterprise.

"We know from a standpoint of our side of that philosophical issue that if you empower business to do more business, the American government will prosper. Our revenues have gone up in this country. They have not gone down because of tax cuts. June 15, 2005, this year was the largest single take in tax revenue in the history of the United States of America. And it was because our country is running on all cylinders or most all cylinders. When I went to college, 95 percent employment was full employment. We have that today. We have had an unbelievable sustained period of positive interest rates and we've got an economy not attacked by inflation and inflation continues to be under control. The jobs that were lost because of recession in the early part of this decade are coming back and they are coming back at a rapid rate. Business formations. Prosperity. American homeownership is at an all-time high. The real estate industry is at an all-time high. American business enterprise is thriving and I would submit to you it is not confusing to me and I do understand what we're doing.

"We're empowering that which has always taken this country to great heights. That is the American free-enterprise system, the American taxpayer, the American employer and the American employee. And we're empowering them with their money and believing they can do it better and we can prosper together.

"Because the other side's philosophy is you can charge the people more money to take care of the problems you perceive and instead of empowering them, you shackle them with less money. You empower government. You breed mediocracy. That's wrong.

"On that 9/11 comment, nobody predicted 9/11. Nobody could have ever predicted 9/11. But while in the process of reinvigorating the American economy through strategic tax cuts, this Administration has confronted the most horrible fate a country could confront in 9/11 and the attacks of terrorism.

"We have pursued terrorists around the world. We have secured our airports. We are securing our ports. We have been fortunate not to have an attack on our soil since that date. That did not come cheap. It came at a great price financed in part by the deficits we've referred to. We've paid for an awful lot of it from the growth in our revenue of an empowered taxpayer, employer and employee.

"I'm one member of the majority party in this Senate. I can only speak for myself. But I take issue with being characterized as someone that is trying to cut healthcare, someone that is trying to take food out of the mouths of children, somebody that is trying to make welfare and turn it back around and hurt people on the welfare to recovery, someone that is trying to make it harder for kids to go to college.

"All of those examples that I heard in the previous speech were examples of taking an issue and distorting an issue to make it appear that one side is against children, for hunger, against education, for ignorance, all of those negative commutations.

"For a second I want to address them if I can. We had an earlier motion on the floor with regard to Medicaid. Now we have a lot of governors in this country that are attempting to get some flexibility in Medicaid. I happen to be one of those that supports giving those governors flexibility from the standpoint of Medicaid. Why? They administer Medicaid, we don't. We hold them accountable for the administration. If they are paying a third of a cost, and we're holding them accountable - then by golly they need some flexibility to be able to use the tools and apply them to health care for the poor. Being for flexibility for our governors to deal with one of the largest state expenditures in state government, the largest in my state is good common sense. It's not cutting health care; it's empowering the people that are helping to get it to the people that need it.

"Now, in the business of taking food out of the mouths of babes, I do not know what the Senator from New York was referring to specifically, and I will give her the benefit of the doubt. But I tell you this, cutting the rate in programs is not taking food out of the mouths of people getting it.

"Cutting the rate in growth on spending is trying to manage our budget. I have never seen a time like that even back in the early 1990's when the Republicans were attacked in the House for taking the food out of the mouths of young children. It was the rate of growth in programs that were talked about. It wasn't real dollars. I would submit to you the reference today was probably precisely the same thing.

"As far as welfare rules are concerned, one of the great legislative initiatives of the 1990's was welfare reform and welfare to work. I've been to the centers in my state. I've seen the bulletin boards of success stories today of people who were on welfare, shackled for a lifetime and then empowered by welfare to work legislation. We've reduced our roles in this country tremendously. We haven't really reduced the cost of welfare that much because we're providing child care, we're providing training, transportation and education.

"But you know what we did?

"We slowed the growth of the cost of welfare to the American taxpayer, and in the process of doing it, we empowered Americans who thought they were shackled for a lifetime in poverty and welfare because we got them job training. We got them child assistance while they were being trained. We empowered them and challenged them to go off of welfare and on to work. And they are there today. And that is a great accomplishment.

"Now, on the student loan business, I do know a little bit about that. We were tasked in the health, labor, education and pension committee on the budget reconciliation and with finding savings. The characterization was it's going to cost students more money to go to college and borrow on student loans. There are going to be some costs. That is correct.

"We still however, as a government, provide through grants and pell grants and assistance through the college loan program, and unparalleled assistance to students wanting to go to college and to finance that education. We're merely trying to make that program accountable and live to a certain extent within our means.

"There was a comment in the preceding speech about it's time to get back to arithmetic and reality. And I'd like to address my remarks to that for just a second.

"There's not a one of us in here that likes the deficit situation we have been in. I applaud the White House for encouraging us, and I applaud Senator Gregg in his diligent leadership to force us to try and bring about savings and begin to reduce spending.

"The reconciliation bill we passed was $39.4 billion in savings. It's a start. We'll have to do more. In the case of reconciliation and those savings, whatever the program might be, there's going to be somebody that says 'don't cut here, cut there.' But for us to make this budget process accountable, we're going to have to be able to open up all of government, look at all of government, analyze all of government, and make hard choices.

"The reality of arithmetic is you cannot tax America into prosperity. You cannot solve everyone's problem by taxing those that are producing the jobs that employ the people of the United States of America.

"What you can do, however, is hold yourself accountable on the spending side and empower those that produce the revenues to do more. Te arithmetic of our tax cuts are simple because capital gains, mature assets held but not liquidated were sold, and new money was made. And it was deployed with new investments with growth.

"Dividends became equalized with capital gains and were lowered. Wall Street focused on dividends as being a positive thing for companies to do. There's been a tremendous move on Wall Street, and the market is stronger, and the investment in America is stronger. Because of what we did in bonused appreciation, because of what we did in expensing.

"In every one of these things called to cut, we raised revenue and we did so because we empowered Americans. But if the senator from New York thinks if you've got $1 billion in deficit then you can just raise taxes by $1 billion and solve it and that's the way to go in the 21 st century, then she's dead wrong.

"Because there is a point at which when you tax you suppress prosperity. You cause people that have money to make the decision not to deploy that money anymore. You cause the exact opposite of what has happened in this country for the past three years since the tax programs were passed.

"So, while I may have missed some of the points because I caught this in passing and stopped at the tv to listen, I didn't miss the point. The point was 'I don't understand what we're trying to accomplish.' We're trying to accomplish empowering the great locomotive of prosperity, American free enterprise, the American employer and employee to do better.

"As they do better, revenue goes up not because we raised rates but because we raised hope and opportunity. Secondly, in talking about the reconciliation bill, we are trying to go where every American family is every day of their life. We are trying to sit around the kitchen table, setting priorities, looking to the future, seeing where we can slow the rate of growth of government spending.

"We're not trying to take the food out of the mouths of a single person, nor to take medical healthcare away, nor do we want a deadbeat dad not to get caught. We want every child support payment to be made.

"To characterize that one party as for these things and the other against them is ludicrous. But you've got to go through a process of reconciliation and savings by looking at programs, setting goals for the future, and making them more accountable. 

"The United States of America is a great and prosperous nation for a lot of reasons. But the most important reason of all is it is a land of hope and opportunity. Taxation can destroy the hope and in turn destroy the opportunity when it's carried too far. No matter how noble the cause on which it's leveled.  

"And in the next few days as we close out this legislative session, I hope we can end where we started, empowering the American taxpayer, do a better job handling the expenses of this country, and do what we always do, give thanks that we live in the greatest nation on the face of this Earth."