President Barack Obama may not want to negotiate over another increase in the federal debt ceiling, but Republicans nonetheless intend to bring him to the table, Johnny Isakson said this morning, in one of his first interviews as a member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Isakson was on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” and first was asked to explain his vote in favor of a fiscal cliff agreement that set tax rates – but failed to address spending. Said the Georgia senator:
”It gave certainty to American business, small business, and families on what taxes would be. It made them permanent for everybody except those at $400,000 – and $450,000 for a couple. It’s good policy to make your tax policy permanent, so there’s not uncertainty every year….
“That was the good part. The bad part is that it was done behind closed doors, between just a very few people, when the issue should have been debated before the American people. That I’m sure will happen on the debt ceiling.
“….You have three cliffs coming in the month of March. You have the sequester, you have the debt ceiling, and you have the continuing resolution…..The president can fold his arms all he wants to and say he’s not going to negotiate, but in fact it’s time we made permanent decisions on policy, to begin to amortize and reduce our debt over time, make our spending done on a cost-benefit analysis, and stop issuing continuing resolutions.”
In a morning telephone chat with a gaggle of reporters, including my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss had much the same message:
“Here’s my position: Mr. President, you have said you’re not going to engage in a protracted debate over raising the debt ceiling. My message to the president is you better strap on your chin strap very tight because this junkyard dog is going to address entitlement reform in the debt ceiling debate. … It’s time to get our arms around the debt and the time to do that is during the debt ceiling debate.”
And yet, over on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich disagreed, and theorized that it would be better for Republicans to think long-term. The former Georgia congressman predicted that a fight over the federal government’s credit limit would be another GOP debacle.
“They’ve got to find, in the House, a totally new strategy. Everybody’s now talking about, ‘Okay, now comes the debt ceiling.’ I think that’s, frankly, a dead loser. Because in the end you know it’s going happen. The whole national financial system is going to come in to Washington, buy television and say, ‘Oh my God, this will be a gigantic heart attack, the entire economy of the world will collapse. You guys can’t be responsible.’ And they’ll cave.”
Politico.com this morning focuses on U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s new role as chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act.
The Savannah Republican – who, like the vast majority of his GOP colleagues, has sworn to repeal the legislation — acknowledged that he won’t be making a lot of decisions by himself:
“You just have to be aware that on our side, people can’t stand it, and they have not grown used to it and they do not like it any more than they did when it was passed,” he said. “Therefore, whenever you’re touching it, Obamacare is as sensitive as gun control or abortion. It’s just one of those very difficult, political things where you’re all for it or all against it.”
Kingston emphasized that much of his role in guiding the financing for HHS and Obamacare will be defined by party leaders. “If I have a role of being a quarterback, then I’m not going to be the one calling all the plays,” he said. “I think a lot of what we do on the Affordable Care Act is going to be in coordination with the front office of Appropriations and presumably with leadership and with authorizing committees.”
Apparently, that ambassadorship to the Seychelles islands didn’t come through. My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin reports this:
Tharon Johnson, who led President Barack Obama’s re-election effort across the South and in the key battleground state of Florida, has joined McKenna Long & Aldridge as a managing director in its national governmental affairs unit.
Johnson, 34, an Atlanta native, was Obama’s 2012 national southern regional director and led the president’s campaign to a narrow win in Florida and a close loss in the other battleground state of North Carolina. Both states were decided by fewer than a million votes.
While he declared Thursday that state law won’t let him pursue the suspension of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, Gov. Nathan Deal has left himself a loophole. The governor declared that, because Hill was indicted for public malfeasance after he was out of office, the state law setting out the rules for ousting elected officials doesn’t apply.
A judge has thrown several counts against Hill out. If the special prosecutor pursues the matter, and obtains new indictments, then we have a new ball game.
Over at 11Alive, Jenna Herb reports that Kennesaw State University’s request to launch a football program will hit the Board of Regents next Tuesday, Jan. 8. There’s some indication that the decision isn’t in doubt:
President [Dan] Papp and KSU’s Director of Athletics Vaughn Williams will conduct a briefing on the Regents’ decision on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The event will be held at noon, in the Convocation Center on the Kennesaw State University campus.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider