Sessions speaks at Chamber breakfast

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reassert control over the country.

That’s what the American people need to do with their votes in the November elections, said U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.Sessions, speaking to a group of business leaders at the Pike County Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Wednesday, reiterated a common theme: it’s time for Americans to speak up and take back control.

“If the American people engage themselves and assert themselves, I believe a message will be sent this fall,” Sessions said.

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“I don’t know that the majorities (in the U.S. House and Senate) will change, but maybe a message will get through to Washington that this is not what we want.”

Sessions harkened to the upcoming general election, in which Republicans are battling to gain more representation in Congress – representation that Sessions said better reflects the mindset of Americans.

“There is a big decision to be made in November: Americans are either going to have to ratify the historic alteration in the understanding of what America is about … or not,” he said. “And I feel you confident you didn’t send me there to oversee the massive expansion of government.

“Right now, the country needs to hear from mainstream America.”

Sessions cited several key issues in his call, chief among them policies that are not “job-creating” and an unsustainable increase in the national debt.

He described the economic stimulus package passed in 2009 “a tragedy of monumental proportions.”

“To spend that amount of money ($1 trillion once interest expense is factored into the total) and get so little for it is wrong,” he said. “The debt when President Obama took office was $5 trillion. It will double in five years and by 2019, it will be $15 trillion. The interest alone that debt will go from $170 billion to $800 billion.”

And, he cautioned, much of that debt is held “by countries that are hostile to us.”

That reality in turn causes worry among Americans, particularly those in the business community, who have to face increasing tax rates and concerns about the future economic climate. “The biggest problem fundamentally is that we need to start creating jobs,” he said.

“Why are we creating jobs? Because we’re raising taxes and threatening to raise taxes even more.”

He recalled meeting a woman in Dothan at a similar event who talked in simple terms about the mindset of what Sessions sees as the average American.

“She said, ‘I think government’s taking over too much, spending to much money and can’t sustain this debt. We need to return to our Christian roots.’ And that’s what I’m hearing all over the place.”

Sessions’ message advocating lower taxes, smaller government and fiscal responsibility was well received among his audience of business and local civic leaders, who offered the senator questions about everything from the health care legislation to a national sales tax to the status of the war in Afghanistan and the timeline for American withdraw.

Dr. John Schmidt, a retired Marine Corps colonel and a senior vice chancellor at Troy University, raised questions about the end of the “death tax,” a 10-year tax break on inheritances and estates ending this year.

“Here we are hard-working Americans, trying to make life better for our children, and it’s going to end up in a tax,” Schmidt said.

“It seems like Congress could do something about that.”

Concurring, Sessions “It’s a tax on the American dream,” Sessions replied. “You’re not include to frugality and conservation if you know the government is going to get half of what you’ve got” when you die. Instead, Sessions said he advocates a return of the estate tax, something he said will not significantly impact tax revenues for the federal government, and he said he continues to work to build bipartisan support for some type of new estate tax break.

Chris Schubert, who owns the Sears franchise in Troy, asked about the “WikiLeaks” situation in which hundreds of pages of classified information regarding national security was leaked via the Internet.

“I hope somebody goes to jail for that,” Sessions said, reiterating that while he supports freedom of speech he believes government ought to be able to “have secrets,” particularly in defense of the nation.

“I think the American people are not as weak-kneed on this as some people might think.”

Also the topic of foreign relations, he discussed the “window of opportunity” facing the United States and Israel as relates to an attack on potential Iranian nuclear facilities.

“There are no good solutions,” he said. But, “we recently bombed a plant in Syria that was a nuclear plant that had been put together by the North Koreans, so there you go.”

Ultimately, the senator said America is in a “painful period” that could define its future. “We’ve got to go through a painful period of everyone getting their personal houses in order, of corporations getting their houses in order” to refocus. “We’ll work through it, if government doesn’t go crazy.”