“The frustration level is high,” U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson told Rome business leaders during a program at the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon. “We are in a very difficult time in this country.”
The Georgia Republican told Rome business, industry and education leaders that the crisis has been created by politicians in both parties.
“We’ve all got our fingerprints on the problem,” said Isakson.
The senator said that simply cutting spending was not the answer to the problem. He illustrated that idea by pointing out that discretionary spending this year totaled $1.182 trillion. The deficit this year is $1.2 trillion, so cutting all the discretionary spending would still leave an $82 billion deficit.
“So you can’t cut the budget enough to solve the problem,” Isakson said. “We’ve got some hard work to do.”
Queried about cuts to defense spending, Isakson said that military spending was cut by $443 billion (over 10 years) last August and stressed that another $480 billion (again, over 10 years) in automatic sequestration cuts that could happen in January of 2013 were not sustainable.
“We cannot allow our military to get hollowed out as it did in the 70s,” Isakson said.
The veteran Cobb County politician said the tax code, entitlements and spending all have to be put on the table.
Isakson said he feels there is bi-partisan support to deal with many of the important issues in the senate if Majority Leader Harry Reid would allow the issues to come to the floor for debate.
“I pledge to put my shoulder to the grindstone to bring forward consequential reforms,” Isakson told the group.
The second-term senator said the rest of his life was about his children and grandchildren, and he said he refuses to be a member of a body that sits around and twiddles its thumbs while the country continues to sink into an economic abyss.
In a meeting with the editorial board of the Rome News-Tribune, Isakson talked about the “atrophy of politics.”
“What we need is the inspiration of desperation,” he said.
Kim Sloan contributed to this story.