Johnson City Press: Alexander: Congress hurting job creation

Senator also says drilling for oil in Gulf should continue.

Posted on July 7, 2010

 Helping create private-sector jobs and an energy policy largely free from foreign oil while not increasing the national debt are among the priorities of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. 

     But those priorities are somewhat frustrated by Congress, the Tennessee Republican said shortly before a Johnson City Rotary Club luncheon Tuesday where he was the guest speaker.  

   “The problem we have in Washington right now is that jobs are No. 1 but everything the Congress does seems to make it harder to create new jobs,” Alexander said. “I mean, the higher debt means fewer jobs. The new health care bill taxes job creators, that means fewer jobs. Higher taxes on small business people, fewer jobs. The new financial regulation bill makes credit harder to get in Johnson City, Elizabethton and Kingsport and that means fewer jobs.”    

Alexander said if a climate change bill (which is being discussed) were to pass Congress, it would send businesses and jobs overseas for cheaper energy.  

   But there are plenty of other issues to consider too, including the war in Afghanistan, the BP oil   spill in the Gulf of Mexico and immigration. Alexander addressed these issues in a brief session with local media before speaking to the Rotarians and fielding questions from them. 

    The oil spill spewing tens of thousands of barrels of crude into the Gulf each day is a disaster that must be handled quickly by President Barack Obama, but not at the expense of continued drilling, Alexander said.      Alexander said it was important to continue producing oil and natural gas from the Gulf because the price of energy could increase otherwise.      sumption. He said over several decades about half of all vehicles on the road could be electric, which would reduce the use of oil by a third.   to say that we may begin to transition to a different sort of presence in Afghanistan as we did in Iraq, which has been reasonably successful.”   to Congress any steps he needs to secure our border,” Alexander said, adding he would support measures to accomplish that goal.     Sending additional National Guard troops to the Mexican border, along with increasing surveillance and constructing walls where needed were all measures Alexander recommended.    

He said the single best thing that can be done to protect borders is to enact a secure work card, which means an employer could not   hire a person unless the card had been issued to them authorizing them to work in the country.    

Alexander said the problem is with Democrats who want to lump in the roughly 10 million to 15 million illegal aliens in the country in some form with any immigration reform legislation rather than dealing with border security as a separate issue.  Sen. Lamar Alexander, left, talks with East Tennessee State University President Paul Stanton at the meeting.

   “I mean, the focus of the president ought to be cleaning it up, stopping the leak and helping the people who are hurt before we do anything else,” Alexander said. 

    Alexander compared the Gulf disaster to that of 100 airplanes crashing on a single day. 

   “So if 100 airplanes crashed in a day, we’d stop for a while and see what went wrong but we wouldn’t stop flying and we can’t stop producing oil in the Gulf of Mexico, because we’ll be relying on oil from Arabia on tankers which are more unsafe than drilling,” he said.

   “We produce a third of our oil and natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico and as soon as the government figures out what went wrong and does its best to make it as safe as we can, we need to resume exploration for natural gas and oil,” he said.

    But Alexander said he wanted to encourage the widespread use of electric cars to reduce oil con-

   “That would help with clean air,” he said. “It would help with climate change worries, it would reduce the cost of fuel and it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”


   Alexander was also asked about the war in Afghanistan. He said America’s enemies in Afghanistan should not be given the message that the country will withdraw all military forces from the country by next summer.

    “I think it is important that we not just say to our enemy that we’re gone in a year,” Alexander said. “It’s important


   Another issue presented to Alexander was immigration.


   Alexander said it is Obama’s job to secure the nation’s border by enforcing laws that already exist.


   “And he (Obama) should recommend

   “And the American people don’t trust the Congress to do both at once,” Alexander said.