- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

Johnny Isakson has devoted nearly 20 years of public service to education reform, and says he will continue to do so as Georgia’s newest senator.

Former head of the Georgia State Board of Education, Mr. Isakson was a key player in crafting 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act when he was a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Now that he has moved to the other side of the Hill, the 60-year-old Atlanta native has been placed on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which was his first choice.

“I’ve dedicated a significant part of my public life to protecting the welfare of children and their education and I care deeply about those issues,” he said.

Mr. Isakson will continue to push for education reform and welcomes President Bush’s commitment to maintain it as a policy and budget priority in the 109th Congress.

His second priority will be affordable health care. The senator wasn’t one of the band of Republicans whose arms had to be twisted for support during a three-hour House vote for the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill last year, and are now criticizing it.

“In the interim period since we passed it, the drug discount cards are already saving seniors money,” he said.

Mr. Isakson is expected to be a strong new Senate ally — one of seven new Republicans — strengthening the majority for Mr. Bush’s policies in the chamber, and supports of nearly all of the administration’s initiatives.

“I think if you look over the last four years I have sided with the administration on most of its policies,” he said. “But I will be the first to tell you I am against their immigration policy; we have to stop rewarding bad behavior.”

He said Mr. Bush’s guest-worker program, what some Republicans have called “amnesty light,” is nothing more than a Band-Aid in lieu of a more comprehensive immigration policy for the long term, but added that it’s doubtful there will be any movement on it this year.

Tax reform, another top priority for the senator, is not likely to happen. Mr. Isakson was one of 54 House members to co-sponsor a so-called fair tax proposal that would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and business taxes in favor of a consumption-sales tax based on the purchase of nonessential goods and services.

“It is not good for America for less people to pay more taxes and more people pay no taxes at all. We need a system that has all people participating where you can, and I will, work to those ends,” he said.

Mr. Isakson served eight years in the Georgia Air National Guard and owned a real estate company for 23 years. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, he said he wants to see a more civilized relationship between environmentalists and business.

He said his conservative values are important to him, but that he will not shy away from breaking with the party on issues he knows are the wrong approach.

“I want them to say I did the right thing. I just hope people look on the 28 years I have served and say on every issue that mattered I tried to do what’s right.”


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