Johnson City Press & Kingsport Times News: Alexander wants Obama’s focus to be on jobs, debt, war

Posted on January 28, 2010

President Barack Obama needed to focus his State of the Union speech on creating jobs, reining in the federal debt, and dealing with the War on Terror, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said Wednesday. 

    “If (Obama) stopped right there, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit,” the Tennessee Republican told reporters in a conference call before Obama’s remarks to a joint session of Congress.

    When Alexander, the Senate’s GOP Caucus chairman, was asked how Republicans will work with the Democratic president, he said: “If he’s ready to go to work on jobs, we’re ready to go to work with him. But we want to make certain that we do it in the right way. For us that doesn’t mean creating a lot of new government jobs, adding to the debt or a lot of new spending.”

    Alexander said Senate Republicans favor ending the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which has poured billions into the banking industry, and also getting   the federal government out of overseeing major auto companies. by the president that w e ’ r e spending too much is welcome because we’re being asked to raise the debt limit by $1.9 trillion, an amount that’s equal to the entire federal   budget in 1999, which is a stunning fact,” Alexander explained. “A freeze on such a small part of the federal budget, while it might be a useful first step, is only a very small step and doesn’t begin to deal with the real cause of runaway debt and runaway spending, and that is the automatic entitlement spending.”      All those ideas, he noted, have been previously rejected by congressional Democrats.  

    Alexander said he’s introduced one legislative amendment that would declare a stock dividend and give General Motors stock to all Americans who paid taxes last year.

    Obama can also create jobs with a balanced labor environment and extending a research and development tax credit, Alexander pointed out.

    Alexander indicated Republicans would be leery of a second federal stimulus package with additional spending and Obama’s call for a three-year freeze on some domestic spending.

    “My attitude and that of most Republican senators is any indication 

    As for what will happen with health care reform, Alexander said Republicans continue to advocate small business health plans, allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines, reducing “junk lawsuits” against doctors and expanding health savings accounts. 

    When asked to reflect on Obama’s first year in office, Alexander said he likes the president personally and called him a delightful individual.

    “(But) his policies are too far to the left, and he’s bitten off more than the nation can chew at one time,” Alexander added. “It seems like every other day we’ve got a new plan to raise taxes, increase spending or another Washington takeover, whether it’s banks, student loans or car companies. Some of that he inherited (from GOP President George W. Bush). Most of that he started. That’s why I hope he gets back to the middle of the road.”