Johnny Isakson: ‘We are about to take defeat from the jaws of victory’

We are officially about three hours and change away from a shutdown of the federal government. Let me point you to this section of a speech that U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson made from the chamber floor today.

The Georgia senator did not tell U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to give up. But Isakson did tell the speaker that it was time to cash in his chips and declare victory. The emphasis in the passage below is mine:

Mr. ISAKSON: Mr. President, in the South we have an old saying: If you find yourself at the bottom of a hole, stop digging.

We are at that point. We accomplished some amazing things in the last 3, 4 weeks. I commend the House on the cuts that have taken place, but we ought to remember we are focusing on the minnow, when the big fish is on the horizon.

There is only so much we can cut when 50 percent of a fiscal year is gone. People are talking about how little we are cutting out of small areas. That is because it is all there is to cut from. The cuts have demonstrated that we can begin to get our house in order.

The big enchilada is coming up with the big 2012 budget.

I did a little research on what we have done in the last 3, 4 years. In the last 3 years, we spent all our money on omnibus appropriations, except one Defense appropriations act. In doing the research, we spent on average 4 days of debate on those three bills.

We have had the small business bill on the floor for 12 days, and we haven’t finished it yet. We spent 12 days on the small business reform bill, and we only spent an average of 4 days on spending over $10 trillion. It is time that we got the current agreement — and I understand there is one — on how much we cut done. If we have differences on policy, we can reserve them for debates on the 2012 appropriations act.

Let’s get moving. Everybody here knows we have two big votes on the horizon. One is the pending debt ceiling vote at some time in May or June, and the other is the fiscal year 2012 appropriations. We will not get a second chance on those. The world markets are not going to give us another year to spend our money in a helter-skelter manner. We have the ability and the brain power, and we need the commitment in this body to spend money like the American people have to spend theirs. That is all they ask of us. We don’t need to be extravagant, frivolous, and wasteful.

Another thing on the current, pending, looming possible shutdown is that it is absolutely crazy, when we have committed our sons and daughters to harm’s way — right now, they are in three countries: Libya by the Air Force, Iraq, and Afghanistan. To put them in a position of accruing their income because we have shut down the government is just not right. It is not the right thing to do. We ought to debate these matters on the Senate floor with the government functioning.

I hope all of my colleagues will recognize that we are about to take defeat from the jaws of victory. We have won the battle on the short term with the cuts we needed. Let’s get this short-term cut done, let’s get the CR done, and then let’s get to the kitchen table of the American people and get it done for fiscal year 2012 and the years ahead.

We have to find out how to pay back over time $14 trillion. That is going to take a lot of commitment, work, and time. Let’s get to it. Let’s get the CR done. Let’s come back next week and finish dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and commit ourselves that the rest of the year is about America’s future, it is about our children and grandchildren; it is about beginning to rein in expenses and spend our money accountably and predictably so the American people can expect of us what we always demand of them.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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89 comments Add your comment


April 8th, 2011
8:59 pm

Johnny come lately! Where have all the statesmen gone? Too much tea perhaps?


April 8th, 2011
8:59 pm

Thanks Johnny, I guess you checked your spine at the door.


April 8th, 2011
9:12 pm

Wheres the suggestions from Johnny to cut 100 billion from the military FOR A START and cut the 3 billion for Israel, the 2.2 billion for Egypt, the 1 billion for Palestine, etc etc etc… we have the gop cutting americans and keeping the gravy rollin for foreigners. americans first for a change!!

The Centrist

April 8th, 2011
9:13 pm

I heard a GOP congressman say that Obama is at fault for not getting a budget bill passed. He must not have watched “School House Rock” and “how to make a bill” because it was on PBS. The GOP kicked the can with the 2007 budget, never added the War supplementals in the budget, became the Party of No for two years, and now blame the Obama because Boehner cannot lead..

northbeach Scott

April 8th, 2011
9:14 pm

Johnny, could you be anymore of a beltway insider? You are part of the problem and will be dealt with accordingly in the next senate election. You are one of the reasons that term limits should be implemented.

John Radney

April 8th, 2011
9:26 pm

It’s time for Johnny to be replaced. Ther is plenty of good conservetives and if he don’t like what the speaker and Sen. Paul are doing, walk away. Not like he earned the job to start with.


April 8th, 2011
9:39 pm

well johnny, you were a democrat at one time, enough said!

Minus Clous

April 8th, 2011
9:42 pm

Wrong centrist, the Democrats was to have submitted a budget for fiscal year 2011 last year but did not even work on it. Obama is no leader, he lags behind then attempts to act like a leader just like he did in Chicago and in the Senate. Now he can’t vote present and get away with it, he has always hide behind his present votes even as a Chicago legislature.


April 8th, 2011
9:43 pm

….sez the Senator pimping a $62 BILLION program for the F-22. And that’s just to buy the damn things, never mind the future cost of maintenance and operation.

Considering military personnel costs around $150 billion, we could pay more than half the annual salary of those brave men and women he’s so bunged up about—-if we’d been smart enough to pass on his Lockheed welfare program.


April 8th, 2011
9:44 pm

johnny was democrat, who cares. come 2012 when i fill out my paperwork and grab a card, i will be one too for the first time in 12 years.

The Centrist

April 8th, 2011
10:15 pm

Minus Clous. Please factcheck yourself. If the Democrats submitted a budget, they had to “work on it.” All I remember is the 48-page Ryan budget that had 27-pages of pictures, last year I remember GOP members refusing to come to meetings and Senators putting holds on bills. I remember the GOP telling us they would present a comprehensive budget in January 2011. Have you see it?.

The Centrist

April 8th, 2011
10:21 pm

cs. Yes Johnny was a Democrat. So was Sonny, Zell, and a bunch of so called Republicans. Have you ever thought that RINOs are called that only after they made a “liberal” statement when there are no consequences? You call them RINOs, I call them Dixecrats.


April 8th, 2011
11:07 pm

Yeah yeah, I have heard the speeches…i didnt leave the democrats, the democrats left me. I guess I aint gonna leave the Republicans, they have just thrown me under the bus for the last time seems to fit.

Chit, many Republicans in Ga are Rinos on many issues. Look at Tom Priss, errrr Price, Austin Scott, etc.I’d soon have Jesse Jackson

The Centrist

April 8th, 2011
11:25 pm

cs. In grad school, I read the definitions of a classical conservative (Democrat) and classical liberal (Republican). It was then that I understood that a Dixiecrat has absolutely no clue who they are. A CR was just approved with $70 billion in cuts that were agreed upon days ago. To put things into focus, The new Shanghai Disneyland will cost $3 billion.

The Centrist

April 8th, 2011
11:29 pm

With the new CR, does anyone remember GOP’s saying they needed 72-hours to read each bill? Crickets chirpping. Ask your friendly neighborhood congressman if they know what is in the CR.


April 9th, 2011
12:00 am

Centrist—So was Real Deal democrat.Term limits for all.


April 9th, 2011
12:56 am

Here’s one to beat spineless, JI…The AJC is running in a sidebar story about the Carter Library and Museum announcing on Friday that it is “closed because of the federal government shutdown.” On its phone message at the time of this post. Carter – what an embarrassment.

Sick of Republicans

April 9th, 2011
6:21 am

Good old Johnny – the one who referred to those beneath the millionaire status the “unwashed”. I didn’t vote for him last election and sure won’t be voting for him in the next one either. When all you people wake up and see what the Republicans are doing to the middle class, seniors and those on the low economic scale, then maybe, just maybe, you might get it. Oh and Johnny the reason we are unwashed is because all you Republicans use all the hot water and there is none left over for the rest of us.


April 9th, 2011
6:30 am

“we ought to remember we are focusing on the minnow, when the big fish is on the horizon.”
“The big enchilada is coming up with the big 2012 budget.”

Does the Senator think that an enchilada is a fish?


April 9th, 2011
6:40 am

I’ve been watching Ga politics a long long time and I don’t recall Johnny Isakson ever being a Democrat. He and Paul Coverdell were the only decent Republicans around after Bo Calloway made his splash 50-60 years ago

Sam I Am

April 9th, 2011
6:57 am

And now they get to play for another week.

What a looser

April 9th, 2011
7:06 am

Johnny has his head so far up the arse of the developers and lawyers and real estate agents, he couldn’t make an honest deciaion if Georgia depended on it. Johnny was right in the middle of the mortgage melt down that continues to this day. Anyone who bought property in the last 7 years is under water severly. Thanks Johnny.

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April 9th, 2011
7:12 am

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April 9th, 2011
7:28 am

Just like former Guv Perdue, Johnny is mainly about using public office enriching himself and his wealthy donors. Check out how he spends his campaign contributions. A statesman? More a circus huckster.

Last Man Standing

April 9th, 2011
7:49 am


I think that you and I are near the same age. I don’t recall Isakson ever being a democrat either. I worked in Callaway’s gubernatorial and congressional campaigns and recall that Isakson was a Republican then.

Johnny Take My Money

April 9th, 2011
7:50 am

To all you millionaires that think the Repubs are the answer: You can cut spending all you want, but in order to get the house back in order, tax rates for the rich must be raised to the Clinton era levels of 39%. 20 million jobs were created and the budget was balanced with that tax rate. Lower it to 35% (to create jobs?) and the Repub spending goes wild and no net jobs were created buring the W years. Get a brain folks.

NE Georgia realist

April 9th, 2011
8:07 am

Johnny is just repeating the Republican mantra:

“This issue is the most important one facing our nation. Just don’t as me or any of my friends to pay for it.”

It is their position on the war in Afghanistan, then on the war in Iraq and now the deficit. And the suckers who will pay for it keep falling for it.

Burroughston Broch

April 9th, 2011
8:11 am

Mr. Isakson will not get my vote in the next senatorial primary. Tea Party take notice – it’s time to find a fiscal conservative to represent Georgia.


April 9th, 2011
8:19 am

Nice speech.

A good way to start cutting spending is to have all swear on a stack of bibles not to vote for a single bill that has the word “taxes” in it.

All we have done for the past 30 years is play around with taxes and totally ignore spending. As a result we have a 414 trillion National Debt.

A reverse is in order.


April 9th, 2011
8:22 am

Blah, blah, blah, blah! And the beat goes on. Why is America dying? Because we are spending billions and billions funding three poorly advised wars in the Middle East region. We will NEVER win in Iraq, Afghanistan, nor Libya. And even if we do, we will gain NOTHING. Afghanistan has been at war for over 4000 years, and we think that WE can change that? Get a grip, America, and start fighting against all these useless wars and pay back what we owe. Also, where is all the money lost for the bailouts of Wall Street thieves? Why haven’t I heard a single word about the return for illegal gains from the jerks who brought this country to its knees. Wake up, Johnny! Become an American supporting America.


April 9th, 2011
8:25 am

$14 trillion National Debt – sorry for the typo

Concerned Voter

April 9th, 2011
8:33 am

What we all need in Washington is people of integrity who are there to do the work of our nation in a mature fashion who are more interested in our country than they are in the sound byte on TV. All of this posturing for the camera and hype for the viewers is costing the Americans far too much. We need responsible senators and representatives.

red herring

April 9th, 2011
8:52 am

Too much government spending in Washington, D.C.. I’m for furloughing all non-essential government employees 2 days per week until the folks in Washington D.C. wake up. The Federal Government has not shared the pain with the State and Local governments who have been furloughing employees for 2 years in order to make their budgets work. Time for the Federal budget to be balanced, unneeded federal agencies and duplicitous programs shut down, and the fear mongering stopped. The Democrats in Washington would have you believe that if the budget is cut that women will die, abortions will end, old folks will die or go hungry, etc.. That’s b.s. and hopefully America understands it by now. What folks like Harry Reid are against is not having us pay for his Cowboy Poetry Festivals… Lets get Washington off our backs and our tax money back to the state and local level where it can be used to lower our property and school taxes. Amen to the FLAT TAX or similar tax that would level the playing field. Too many people having free rides and not contributing a dime.


April 9th, 2011
8:56 am

I recall democrats for callaway,not iskason being a democrat.Wonder if Roscoe still living.

Buzz G

April 9th, 2011
9:17 am

I look forward to the day when the big spending GOP is a minor faction in the Tea Party.

Buzz G

April 9th, 2011
9:21 am

The national debt is now $14,282,201,794,683,00. If you can visualize how much that would be in dollar bills, you have a better imagination than I. This is our gift to our grandchildren. Shame on us.

Too many snouts at the trough. Here piggy, piggy, piggy.

Road Scholar

April 9th, 2011
9:31 am

Repubs: Wrong again. Compromise reached. now the next budget battle looms! You don’t eat a whale all at one bite! It takes numerous smaller bites to do it!

Oh and what about Government openess? No 3 days to read what is in the budget cut, but we have to be “fed” it through press releases? And that applies here in Ga also. The new tax bill, not released on Friday, will be voted on in committee Monday! And what about the immigration bill; it must have the requirement of e-verify, sizeable fines for businesses who hire illegals, and a path to get work permits for illegals in agriculture and other employment. Governmnt: do your job!

Last Man Standing

April 9th, 2011
9:51 am

The problem in Washington D.C. can be summed up in only two words: “career politicians”. America desperately needs citizen statesmen focused on the survival of the country and uninterested in buffing their egos.

There is no need to even discuss raising taxes until spending has been drastically cut. Taxation, combined with a global view and NAFTA, is responsible for the loss of manufacturing and many other jobs in our country. Until (if) this issue is addressed, we will watch other businesses relocate to other countries.

Straight Talk

April 9th, 2011
9:55 am

What a leader! LOL Isakson is a day late and a dollar short. Too bad Herman Cain didn’t beat Isakson in the last election. We need Herman Cain as our next President in 2012. He is a real leader with integrity, common sense and business success built on his abilities and not on his father founding a business like Isakson. Check Cain out at and sign up for his newsletter.


April 9th, 2011
9:59 am

All you right wing nuts, Isakson is the closest thing we have to a statesman in this country. It would be a tragedy if you tea baggers try to replace him. The likes of Rand Paul and Michelle Bachman will never have any real influence because they are too far out the mainstream. But, of course, you don’t really care what’s best for the country as a whole. All you care about is your narrow, radical agenda.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

April 9th, 2011
10:04 am

Former Cong. Ed Jenkins said it best… DC knows exactly what it will take to get a balanced budget..(1) Cut defense (2) Cut Social Security (3) Raise Taxes…and nobody..NOBODY..has the guts to do it.

No wonder he got weary, retired and went home.


April 9th, 2011
10:06 am

I guess all you astute observers didn’t forget that the Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and White House until January, when the Republicans reclaimed control of the House.

The Democrats had many months in full control of the process back in 2010 to pass a budget. They chose not to do so, in order to posture for the Nov election. They got slaughtered anyway, and we still have no budget.

If we’re assigning blame, let’s assign it to the party and people truly responsible. They have a “D” after their names.

Straight Talk

April 9th, 2011
10:18 am

Janie – Quit foaming at your liberal mouth and think about what you are saying. Since when is supporting a BLACK man for President – Herman Cain – racist?


April 9th, 2011
10:30 am

Interesting how ole Johnny always has something to say at the end of anything that happens in DC. I guess it is more important to put the screws to the middle and lower class people of this country. The sad thing there are a lot of people who believe the rhetoric to blame all ills on the Dems and President Obama. Vote the repubs in and see where it gets this country. A preview should be the state of Georgia. Last in education. Behind TN, AL and SC in economy. Leader in raising taxes but telling the public the opposite. And still no job improvements other than family members and friends of the last elected. Always first in criticizing and blaming the other party for what they themselves are not doing as well.

blue dog

April 9th, 2011
10:31 am

I argued with my GOP co workers for the 8 years when Bush was in office that the deficit was not getting the attention it required, and that the huge tax cuts would be paid for by our children…They could not have been more unconcerned.
I was appalled to watch as Bush turned a 300 Billion surplus into a fat tax cut, mainly favoring the rich. The Democrats pushed to spend most of the surplus on paying down the debt…but the GOP was in control of both the House and Senate…so they got their tax cut.
This is history…I lived thru it…that is what happened.
These facts have been blurred by the Right Wing talking heads who place no value on history.
This year 2011, this same GOP (who now have “morphed” into deficit fighters), “forced” Obama into continuing these deficit driving tax cuts for the wealthy, or they would force a government shut down…Temporarily extending the cuts until 2012.
I am beginning to see bloggers from the “Right” blame Obama for “allowing” the tax cuts to remain…Apparently taking their cue from their lead dogs…Rush, Beck who are now heavily invested in the lunatic fringe…the Tea Party.
This revisionist history making is maddening to watch. Give it a few more years and the talking heads will have you believe the GOP “opposed” the tax cuts.
The Tea Party has at least created a paradox for the mainstream GOP…how do we defend these budget busting tax cuts…when our new top priority, the Tea Party’s top priority, is ….
The deficit.
Here we have Senator Isakson, new champion of taxpayers for debt relief, finally crawl out from the shadows and attempt to lead the charge.
It would be funny to watch, if it were not so pathetic…what leaders. A handful of Tea Party voters has hijacked their agenda.
At least someone is finally making, reducing the deficit, a top priority….after 10 wasted years.
We will just have to see what the Wealthy Elite’s have to say when in 2012 the GOP quietly allows their precious tax cuts to expire…They won’t be happy.


April 9th, 2011
10:40 am

So question for Mr. Isackson, what are we going to cut? No one wants their Social Security or Medicaid cut. You guys in Washington certainly want our military involved in everything under the sun. So what you come up with is to cut only the programs that help the least among us or are we going to share the pain across the board. I don’t have a problem with cutting, I think we need to, but the cuts need to be fair. If we only cut discretionary spending, as this bill will and don’t even discuss raising taxes on the wealthy or fixing some of the corporate tax loop holes, then what are we doing? We have money to protect Libya, but can’t extend unemployment benefits to fellow Americans who are hurting?
Cutting spending is fine; all Americans are doing it. I know I have cut my own budget. However, I have used priorities in what I have cut. I didn’t only cut things my wife wanted to do, we shared the pain together. Until we as a country share the pain then we are never going to fix our financial system.


April 9th, 2011
10:54 am

Johnny-boy used to be pro-choice, way back in the ’80s. He lost his balls back then and hasn’t found ‘em since.

Last Man Standing

April 9th, 2011
10:57 am


“All you right wing nuts, Isakson is the closest thing we have to a statesman in this country.”

That is exactly the problem! We have voted for and elected career politicians and what have they done for us? They have given us a national debt of over $14 trillion and are currently running a deficit of over $1.4 trillion. In short, janie, we know what we have had and we know that isn’t working out too well for us.

Last Man Standing

April 9th, 2011
11:00 am


When the real cutting begins, they need to cut their salaries, benefits and retirements first. They can set the example by leadership!

Are you willing to hold your breath until that happens?

Last Man Standing

April 9th, 2011
11:04 am

blue dog:

“The Democrats pushed to spend most of the surplus on paying down the debt”

Can you provide your source for that information? I’d really like to see it for myself.