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Interview with Johnny Isakson, April 4, 2007

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Becoming interested in politics / Early political career

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Partial Transcript: We have as our guest today Senator Johnny Isakson, an old friend who has been down in his first term in the United States Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Isakson talks about his childhood and growing up in a family that was very politically active. He recalls going to the University of Georgia and becoming friends with politicians Pierre Howard and Alex Crumbley. He discusses running for office for the first time and the other elections that he participated in.

Keywords: Andy Young; Cobb County; County Commissioner; Herb Jones; Joe Frank Harris; John Kennedy; Quito America Hotel; Ronald Reagan; Roy Barnes; Sam Nunn; Zell Miller

00:07:35 - Thoughts on terrorism

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Partial Transcript: You became a senator during a very critical time. We have the war around the world on terrorism.

Segment Synopsis: Isakson discusses terrorism in the United States and the wars in the Middle East. He explains his belief that in order to win the war in Iraq, the United States should not withdraw from the war. He further explains that if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq, the terrorists might come back to the United States to fight a war on U.S soil.

Keywords: Al Qaeda; Anbar province; Baghdad; Bill of Rights; Guantanamo Bay; Mahmoun Ahmadinejad; Neville Chamberlain; WWII; Winston Churchill; first amendment

00:16:11 - Issues involving the elderly

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Partial Transcript: The part of our program at Young Harris College is a continuing learning system program.

Segment Synopsis: Isakson discusses two issues that concern the elderly citizens of the United States: social security and health care. He explains that the social security program needs to be modernized due the increasing life expectancy of U.S citizens. He also discusses his proposal to have anyone applying for Medicare to execute a will before they can become eligible.

Keywords: FDR; George Bush; disease management; time value of money; wellness

00:21:30 - Isakson's tax proposals

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Partial Transcript: You’ve brought forth some tax proposals that have piqued the interest of a lot of Americans.

Segment Synopsis: Isakson talks about some of his tax proposals, explaining how he believes that the current tax code is outdated. He also describes what his approach would be on creating a new tax code.

Keywords: alternative minimum tax; business; consumption tax; economists; fair tax; flat tax; progressive tax

00:25:24 - Republican-Democrat congressional makeup

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to reflections, when you first went to the House of Representatives, as I recall you were the only Republican in the body.

Segment Synopsis: Isakson reflects on being one of the few Republicans in the Georgia Senate. He says that he had to find common ground with the Democrats in order to get legislation passed. He recalls how he worked with Democrats in order to privatize Brasstown Valley into a resort and spa. He also shares his thoughts about the Republican loss of its majority in Congress in the 2006 national election.

Keywords: Brasstown Valley; Lake Lanier; MARTA; Stone Mountain; Tom Murphy; World Congress Center; Zell Miller; senior citizens; social security; war

00:34:22 - Rise of Republicans in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Were you surprised when the Republicans won the governor’s office?

Segment Synopsis: Isakson discuses the election of Sonny Perdue and the rise of the Republican party in Georgia. He explains that having a Republican governor helped Republicans gain control of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate.

Keywords: Bo Callaway; Eric Johnson; Roy Barnes; general assembly

00:40:28 - Issues with transportation in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: You’re on the Transportation Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Isakson talks about some of the issues with transportation in Georgia including the increasing cost of building roads. He also mentions some possible solutions, such as hot lanes and toll roads.

Keywords: gas; hybrid cars; infrastructure; privatization; tax

00:43:52 - Reflections on political career

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Partial Transcript: State legislator, chairman of the Education Committee, candidate for governor, candidate for United States Senate - - what has been the highest moment in your political career?

Segment Synopsis: Isakson reflects on the highest and lowest moments of his political career. He discusses how he handled his political career while also running a business.

Keywords: Board of Education; Brasstown Valley; Northside Realty; Zell Miller