Greeneville Sun: Alexander Is Critical Of Obama Priorities

Major Issues Are Jobs, Terrorism, Reducing the Debt

Posted on January 29, 2010

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Wednesday afternoon that President Barack Obama should focus his first State of the Union Address on three issues: jobs, reducing debt and terrorism.

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, spoke to media in a telephone conference call hours before the president's address and following the annual meeting of Republican senators in the Library of Congress.

In that GOP meeting, he recalled, the senators discussed their plans for the year, based on what he said they are hearing from Americans, especially from voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

In November elections, Republicans won the governors' seats in Virginia and New Jersey.

Last week, Scott Brown, another Republican, was elected to fill the U.S. Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy.

Those voters, Alexander said, were saying they are tired of government spending, high taxes, increased debt and Washington takeovers.

In an e-mail message sent after the conference call, Alexander said, "My hope is that the president now will focus on jobs, debt, and terror. And it would suit me fine if he would stop right there until he has all three headed in the right direction

"On jobs, that means lower taxes instead of higher taxes, cheap energy instead of a national energy tax, reducing health care costs instead of increasing them, and ending TARP (stimulus spending) instead of spending TARP.

"And it means getting the government out of the automobile business. All of that would create an environment in which Americans could create more jobs."

Asked what Republicans want to hear the president say on health care reform, Alexander said they hope he will say its time to put the latest reform package "on the shelf" and "start over again."

He said President Obama should set "a clear and unambiguous goal of reducing health care costs."

He said Republicans have proposed a six-step plan to reduce health care costs by:

* allowing small businesses to pool their resources to purchase health care plans;

* reducing junk lawsuits against doctors;

* allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines;

* expanding health savings accounts;

* promoting wellness and prevention, and;

* taking steps to reduce waste, fraud and abuse.

Alexander said he supports President Obama's decisions on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Overall, however, he said the president's policies are "too far to the left."

"He's bitten off more than he can chew at one time," Alexander said. Some of those problems were inherited from the previous administration, Alxander ackowledged, but Obama sought to do too much.

Hopefully, he said, the president will move back toward the middle and focus on jobs, reducing debt and terrorism.