During August 2011, Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia spoke at a series of town hall and similar meetings around Georgia, and presented his “Five-Point Plan” for how the Congress and Federal Government should address the national debt and deficit issues. The summary of the Isakson “Five Point Plan” given below is based on and quotes from a transcript provided by Senator Isakson’s office, of a speech Senator Isakson gave to the Rotary Club of Augusta on August 8, 2011.
Point One – Reprioritize expenditures and get the budget in line with available resources. Senator Isakson recalled his experiences cutting expenditures for his former real estate business during recessionary times, and cutting expenditures for his congressional office operations. “Cutting is difficult but it’s not as difficult as you think.” “I returned $3.1 million to the U.S. government out of my [congressional office] budget in 13 years. It’s about 12% of what’s been appropriated. That’s what we need to do across the board of the United States federal government. We can find those kinds of savings, we can find them through attrition, you can find them by slowing down growth, you can find them by getting more out of less, you can find them by doing more efficiencies, through adding better IT in your company and your country. We can do it, and so cutting is the number one thing we can do to put our expenses in line.”
Point Two – Social Security Reform. “We can’t deal with our long-term debt and deficit problem unless we deal with Social Security and we deal with Medicare.” Senator Isakson mentioned his public support of the Bowles-Simpson Commission proposals, but thought they could be improved by following the strategies used by Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil in their 1983 compromise that reformed Social Security.“You push eligibility out in the out years,” noting that the 1983 compromise moved eligibility from age 65 to age 67. “We have to do the same again today. Not to the current recipients, not to current people receiving benefits, but for those down the line like my children and my grandchildren who are probably going to live to be 100, work until they’re 80.”
Point Three- Medicare Reform. Senator Isakson stated “Medicare, depending on whose economist you want to believe, runs until 2017 which is only six years, maybe 2024….Now how do you fix this?…. One way is mean testing the benefit.” Isakson noted that all three of the Ryan Plan, the Bowles-Simpson Plan, and the Gang of Six Plan had proposed means-testing Medicare benefits, and noted that “[Y]ou’re going to have to do some means testing on benefits to get it back sound again.”
Point Four – Tax Reform. Senator Isakson named Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy as his two favorite presidents: “One, they were hawks, they were strong in the military, strong in defense, and two, they both inherited recessions and they both fixed it…. Primarily through tax policy.” Isakson stated that “Simpson-Bowles made a good recommendation to take all tax expenditures, which are known as deductions, and put them all on the table for cutting them out, and with every cut of those having a [corresponding] cut in the rate of your taxation.”
Point Five – Regulatory Reform. Senator Isakson noted that “[T]he regulatory environment in Washington is entirely too pervasive.” Senator Isakson recalled a recent encounter with an old friend and business owner. “[H]e put his index finger on my nose and said ‘I just fired a salesman so I could hire two compliance officers because of the current financial reregulation bill known as Dodd-Frank’. And I think most people in business will tell you that is what’s happening right now, if you’re in agriculture on the regulatory provisions being circulated, if you’re in the automobile industry if you look at the compliance regulations there, if you’re in public utilities you look at compliance regulations, if you run a real estate business or any other company that’s in sales and marketing, the compliance regulations are becoming overwhelming. We need to make sure that we mitigate risk for all Americans but you cannot regulate no risk.” “Too many people in Washington who think we can regulate ourselves into prosperity.”
by Mark Murphy