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Political notebook: Georgia's senators dismayed by budget

As state lawmakers hashed out the final version of Georgia's 2010 budget, national leaders were haggling over their own spending plan.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was able to get an amendment into the federal budget, but it wasn't enough to sway his vote.

In fact, both Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, Georgia's other senator, expressed dismay over the $3.5 trillion budget. They said Senate Democrats packed the plan with heavy spending and tax increases.

"The American people are facing difficult times. We are confronting difficult economic circumstances, and this Congress thinks the solution to our economic struggles is to dramatically increase government spending, raise taxes on American families and businesses, and put our nation deeper in debt," Isakson said. "That's absolutely the wrong answer. We must alleviate the tax burden placed on our citizens, not increase it. We must stop the reckless spending."

The budget resolution passed by a vote of 55 to 43, but both Republicans voted no.

"In this time of economic volatility, Americans are worried. They are concerned about their jobs, their mortgages and their mounting debts, and where our country is headed financially," Chambliss said. "This freewheeling budget that borrows too much and includes the largest tax increase in history will do little to quell those worries.

"I have four grandchildren - two of them are newborns. They are the ones that will be charged with paying this debt. With this budget, we are making no sacrifices. We are doing ourselves and future generations no favors."

The budget resolution increases discretionary spending by $490 billion over the next five years and adds $4.96 trillion to the gross national debt, the pair said in a press release. It also raises taxes by $361 billion and allows for $1.3 trillion in additional tax increases.

On one positive note for Isakson, the Senate unanimously passed his amendment to create a deficit-neutral reserve fund for providing a nonrefundable federal income tax credit for the purchase of a principal residence during a one-year period, allowing room in the budget for a future home buyer credit.

The Marietta man plans in the next few weeks to introduce his $15,000 tax credit bill in an effort to revive the U.S. housing market.

But the Senate rejected a number of other amendments supported by Georgia's senators, including the establishment of a bipartisan committee to examine fiscal imbalances, requiring 60 votes on earmarks for private entities and other earmarks. Other amendments to encourage exploration of oil and natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf, to stave off an increase to the alternative minimum tax for middle-income families, to fully fund a border fence with Mexico and health care provisions were also voted down.

The Senate and House have passed alternative budgets, which must be decided in a conference committee.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.