Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

The Impossible Political Dream?

November 7, 2012


Courtesy: U.S. Government

Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader in the Senate, can now focus on something other than making sure that President Obama is a one-term president. That issue has been settled. He can start making reasonable compromises with the president and Democrats in the Senate to do what is best for all Americans.   He puts the burden on the president, telling the Louisville Courier- Journal, ” To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way.” That offers some hope.

Speaking of hope, let’s hope that more senators, Republicans and Democrats, turn more toward statesmanship, and less toward vindictive partisan politics.

Let’s hope it is not futile to think that reasonable  compromise can also become  the new norm in the  House, too.  It’s time to put the nation first, not the  party.

This may be too much to hope for, but if it doesn’t happen,  this country faces even tougher times.  The fiscal crisis cannot be solved without both spending cuts and increased revenue. The trick is to make sure those spending cuts don’t put more of a burden on Americans who need help right now, and to increase revenues without putting more of a tax burden on the middle class.  Taking more money from the middle class means it has less to spend.  Our economy is consumer driven, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen if middle-class consumers have fewer dollars to spend.

Senatorial Candidate Josh McKoon’s Solutions to the State Budget Crisis

March 26, 2010
With attorney Ron Mullins out of the Georgia Senate District 29 race, Josh McKoon, former chair of the Muscogee County Republican Party, could be the replacement for Sen. Seth Harp, who is running for Georgia Insurance Commissioner, but who is still a state senator and has to deal with the budget crisis at the state capitol. Feeling that the crisis will continue if Josh takes Seth’s seat in the Senate, I decided to find out where he stands on the issue. The online interview follows:

1. How do you feel about cutting $300 million for Georgia’s universities and colleges?

Candidate Josh McKoon and the man he could replace in the Georgia Senate, Sen. Seth Harp (Photo was supplied by the McKoon campaign)

No one feels good about reducing funding for our institutions of higher education or K-12 education for that matter. It does appear that the additional reductions that were being discussed will be less than originally anticipated. It is going to be important as we go forward to continue to make education a top priority in building future budgets.

2. Are there other cuts that could be made instead of draconian cuts in the education budget?

Education needs to be at the top of our budget priority list. I’m not sitting around the table at the budget meetings, so it is difficult to second guess what additional cuts might be made at this time. I do believe that if we start with the proposition that we are going to focus funding on core functions of government instead of personal pork projects that we can identify more money for education.

3. How about the water and transportation problems? They are still very much with us.

We must improve our bargaining position in the water discussions. I plan on working with Republicans statewide to make sure our region has a seat at that table. We also can improve our bargaining position by moving aggressively on conservation measures, increasing our capacity through permitting of new state reservoirs and research of additional ways to bring new capacity online, such as desalination.

Transportation as an issue involves two primary problems, governance and funding. We are in a much better position on the governance side after the adoption of legislation last year to streamline operations at GDOT as well as the welcome move of bringing one of the most experienced legislators on transportation issues, Vance Smith, into the Department as the Commissioner. I have proposed increasing funding for GDOT by adopting legislation that would require revenue generated by the unit tax on motor fuel to be spent on DOT Project List items instead of being put into general appropriation where the revenues may be used for personal pork projects.

4. Would you support a tax hike of some sort?

I am a fiscal conservative. I believe trying to tax your way out of problems causes more problems. We need to focus our spending only on core functions of government and if we prioritize in that fashion we will identify more tax dollars for education, transportation and infrastructure.

5.Is the legislature to blame for not being better prepared to handle this budget crisis? Surely they had to see this coming.

In hindsight, one can always identify other things that could have been done to prepare for a crisis. Unfortunately our legislators did not have the benefit of that hindsight prior to the budget crisis. This is the worst economic slide since the Great Depression. No one could have predicted the extent and nature of these economic conditions. I think it is far more valuable for one seeking to set public policy to focus on the future and how we get out of this mess. Focusing on the core functions of government reduces the need to impose tax liabilities to our citizens. This allows the introduction of tax incentives to stimulate economic activity and get things moving again in the right direction.

6. Are there any statesmen left in the Georgia legislature?

Senator Seth Harp for one. Seth has done a great job of serving our district and I am proud to have his support. Yes I believe there are many good men and women working hard to improve public policy in Georgia.

Michael Bishop: New Gun Bill Violates States Rights

July 17, 2009

My good friend, respected teacher, and award-winning  author of a number of books,  Michael Bishop, who lost his son Jamie to the mass murderer who took 32 lives at Virginia Tech in 2007,  is urging us to contact our U.S. senators and urge them to vote against an amendment that will allow people to carry concealed weapons from one state into another.

Michael and Jeri Bishop at their son Jamie's memorial stone, Virginia Tech, Virginia

Michael and Jeri Bishop at their son Jamie's memorial stone, Virginia Tech, Virginia

He said proponents claim this is a states rights measure, when it is just the opposite.  It would mean that a federal law would override state laws on concealed weapons.

“The gun lobby is attempting to force our communities to permit untrained and dangerous individuals from other states to carry loaded, hidden handguns in public,” Michael writes.   

He also says, “Legislation has now been introduced as Amendment No. 1618 to the defense authorization bill (S. 1390) by Senator John Thune (R-SD) and the Senate will vote on it on Monday evening, July 20.”

He says the Senate will vote on it Monday so you need to call your Senator now.  It doesn’t matter that it is the weekend; you can leave a message on his or her answering machine. It’s numbers that count.

“If you are a Georgian, please call both Senator Saxby Chambliss (202-224-3521) and Senator Johnny Isakson (202-224-3643) and urge them to stand up to the gun lobby on this issue, at least, and to prove that they are not entirely in its pocket. Let them do something to promote the safety of all this nation’s citizens and not simply to appease that portion of the gun crowd that thinks carrying in bars and volatile athletic venues, among other places, is just hunky-dory. If you live in another state, please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard TODAY at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your own senators.”

I called my senators.

Josh McKoon: “High speed rail will be the interstate of the 21st century.”

June 18, 2009

One of the great tragedies of the do-nothing Georgia legislature is that it did nothing about a state transportation plan again in the last legislative session.  Nothing in face of a monumental transportation problem, especially in the Atlanta area is incredibly irresponsible, in my book. Nothing means the same old same old in dealing with the problem.  Nothing means continuing to spend hundreds of millions on widening lanes even though that simply is not going to solve the problem, especially on the long haul.

Josh McKoon announces for Ga. Sen. Dist. 29, Government Center, Columbus, GA

Josh McKoon announces for Ga. Sen. Dist. 29, Government Center, Columbus, GA, Courtesy: Josh McKoon

Josh McKoon  says that is one of the issues on which he will concentrate if elected to fill Seth Harp’s Georgia Senate District 29 seat, the one Seth Harp is giving up so he can run for state insurance commissioner.  I am glad to hear that Josh plans to squarely face the transportation problem  because he will probably be District 29’s next senator.  29 is a strongly Republican district and Josh got a lot of publicity as chairman of the Muscogee Republican Party, and for his fight as an attorney for the group taking action against the city of Columbus to force it to spend SPLOST money to build a park in back on the new library.  

Sam Rawls, Josh McKoon, Government Center, Columbus, GA

Sam Rawls, Josh McKoon, Government Center, Columbus, GA

Josh sent me a few pictures of his announcement kickoff, which, as you can see, I’m using.

Josh McKoon, Georgia state Sen. Seth Harp, (R) Dist. 29, Government Center, Columbus, GA (Courtesy: John McKoon)

Josh McKoon, Georgia state Sen. Seth Harp, (R) Dist. 29, Government Center, Columbus, GA , Photo Courtesy: Josh McKoon

We’ll get into the insurance commissioner’s race later. There’s a lot I don’t know about it. I’m going to study up on it to decide what to ask about it.  Insurance plays one heck of a role in our lives.  Just look at the health care mess.  We’ll definitely be looking into it.

While, I’m having to work on the insurance commissioner questions,  I don’t have the same problem with the issues that Josh McKoon faces if he gets elected.   We are talking transportation,  water allocation, health care,  energy,  election reform,  to mention a few. 

I decided that I would concentrate on one issue in the upcoming state election one at a time on this blog.  That’s why when I thanked Josh for the pics, I asked hin for his position on transportation.  He said some things that I wanted to hear.  Here is the email he sent me in response to my question.

Josh McKoon: “Thanks for your e-mail.  I said in my speech announcing my candidacy last week that high speed rail transit linking our cities will be the interstate of the 21st century.  We need transportation solutions now and I will be supporting all of our alternate means of transit, including rail.

” Of course roads will continue to be important and funding for road projects will continue to be an issue going forward.  One proposal I have made to insure a steadier and larger revenue stream for all transportation projects is to dedicate the revenues from the unit tax on motor fuel for transportation projects only.  Currently those funds go into general appropriations and can be spent on pork projects.  We need to make sure transportation funds go for transportation needs.

 “We must confront the transportation issue now both as to passenger and cargo traffic.  A robust transportation infrastructure is the key to our continued economic growth and if we continue to rest upon infrastructure investments made in the 1960s and 70s we will see our growth choked off by an inability to move people and goods efficiently around and through our state. 

“Please let me know if you have any follow up questions. 



Anybody have any follow-up questions.  If so,just click the “comment” button and ask it.  I’ll make sure Josh gets it.

Chair of U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Comes to Columbus

November 25, 2008

  It’s only a few days before voters go to the polls to decide an election that is being watched by the nation, and the parade of political celebrities continues in the state when Congressman Bennie Thompson,  chair of the Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House comes to Columbus to campaign for Jim Martin, the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat held by Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Rep. Thompson will be joined by 2nd District U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop for an appearance at Democratic Campaign Headquarters on Macon Road at 5:15 p.m. , Tuesday, November 25.

Rep. Dennis Thompson, (Dem) Mississippi, Chair, U.S. Homeland Security Committee (Official photo)

Rep. Dennis Thompson, (Dem) Mississippi, Chair, U.S. Homeland Security Committee (Official photo)

  Former Vice President Al Gore came to Atlanta Sunday to campaign for Martin. According to the Atlanta Hournal-Constitution he said of Chambliss, “It’s time for him to go. The Bush-Cheney-Chambliss philosophy has been tried and has not only found out to be wanting, it has been found out to be a catastrophe.” Before Gore, Former President Bill Clinton came to Atlanta to add his support for Martin.

  Sen. John McCain has also been in Georgia campaigning for Chambliss, and President-elect Obama made a radio commercial that is being played on Atlanta stations asking for Georgians to return to the polls Tuesday to support Martin.

Mitt Romney website)

Mitt Romney, Former Governor of Mass. (Courtesy: Mitt Romney website)

  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in Atlanta Friday campaigning for Sen. Chambliss, urging Georgians to keep the two-party system alive in Washington by sending Chambliss back again. If Chambliss loses in Georgia and Sen. Norm Coleman loses in Minnesota, where votes are still being recounted, Democrats will have a 60-vote filibuster proof Senate.  That’s why the stakes are so high next Tuesday when Georgians decide the runoff election between Martin and Chambliss.

Is Georgia Purple Now?

October 2, 2008
   Republicans may be in for a surprise in Georgia on November 4th. No, Barack Obama will probably not carry the state, but it’s going to be closer than a lot of people think, says Bill Shipp in a column for the Athens Banner-Herald.  And -Shipp didn’t mention this, but I will – Jim Martin has a good chance of unseating Saxby Chambliss. Martin has been steadily climbing in the polls and he is only two points behind Chambliss now.

  The reason that it is going to be close is because of increased voter registration. One report has it that 300,000 new voters have been registered this year in Georgia.  Also, the state’s demographics are changing; the white majority is lessening.

  Voter turnout is expected to beat all records.

  Check out the column at this link.