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Political Notebook: Isakson's housing measure stripped from stimulus

The conference committee report on the stimulus package didn't change any votes from Gwinnett's representatives in Congress.

In fact, even though Sen. Johnny Isakson voted against the plan both times it was up for a vote in the Senate, the new version was even less likely to get his nod, since an amendment he offered to boost the housing market was "watered down" in the conference committee.

"This economic stimulus bill is yet another example of Congress throwing money at the symptoms but not getting to the root of the problem," Isakson, a Republican, said before Friday's vote. "This economic decline began in housing and it will only end when the housing market rebounds.

"I'm extremely disappointed the members of Congress negotiating the final package decided to eliminate my $15,000 tax credit for all Americans who purchase a home. I will continue to pursue my housing tax credit proposal as stand-alone legislation. We have historical precedent that shows this idea works and there has been so much public support for it. I believe my colleagues will go home next week and their constituents will ask them why a tax credit for all buyers and all homes wasn't included in the final stimulus bill. I'm optimistic it can still be done."

His colleague in the Senate, Saxby Chambliss, also said he would vote no again.

"Two days ago, I became the proud grandfather of two twin granddaughters. It saddens me to know that the ultimate cost of this bill will be borne by those two little girls," he said Friday. "We are saddling the next generation of children and grandchildren with an unbelievable debt while trying to stimulate the economy in a nickel-and-dime fashion.

Chambliss commended Isakson for his work on the housing tax credit. "It is disheartening that my colleagues in the majority did not choose to include that provision," he said.

Republican Rep. John Linder of Duluth also voted against the stimulus package.

"Under the guise of 'economic stimulus' that demanded our immediate attention, President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) successfully approved a Democratic wish list that starts us down the road toward universal health care and a more pervasive welfare state, the burden of which will be carried by our children and grandchildren," Linder said.

"Even though the president has been on a whirlwind tour of the U.S. this past week, visiting small towns and industrial manufacturers to talk about the positive effects that this 'stimulus' will have on transportation and infrastructure, only 6 percent of this bill is spent on transportation projects. Perhaps it should have focused less on Frisbee golf courses and more on solutions that will elevate us from real economic difficulties."

But Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat whose district includes a portion of Gwinnett, again voted in favor of the bill.

"The package, which is a balance of tax cuts and investments, is an effort to help lift our sagging economy and put people back to work," said Johnson, adding that the loss of jobs is his biggest concern.

He said the package should create 105,000 jobs in Georgia, although he warned it would not solve all of the nation's economic woes.

"The economic problems weren't created in a day, and they won't be solved overnight," the Atlanta man said. "But with unemployment in Georgia rising above 8 percent and climbing, I cannot sit idly by while so many of my fellow Georgians struggle to pay bills, keep their homes or businesses and pay for college."

Isakson to begin

2010 campaign

This week, Isakson plans to launch his 2010 re-election campaign for Senate.

He is expected to announce his intentions to return to Washington during a press event at the state Capitol in Atlanta Tuesday. Then he will take off on a tour of the state with rallies planned based on the issues facing the nation.

He'll talk about the economy and housing market in Augusta, energy independence in Albany, water in Columbus, education in Macon and transportation in Savannah, according to a media advisory.

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.