Isakson talks about the economy, rail and water

When it comes to the economy, it might take five years before the United States finds “the new normal,” U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson told the Atlanta Press Club Monday.

Isakson said he believes we currently are experiencing the economic “trough” right now, and that will continue until Americans start purchasing homes again.

But Isakson said that when the U.S. economy finds the “new normal,” it’s a “good normal,” one that will be healthier for society. It will hark back to the times when people would save their money, pay off their debts and “always have some skin in the game,” he said.

Meanwhile, Isakson has called for the establishment of an independent comission to do “forensic audit of all the things that contributed to the historic mistake.” Isakson said this would not a “finger-pointing commission,” but a “fact-finding” one to make sure that there will not be a repeat of the same mistakes.

Isakson also has created a new word. Instead of inflation, deflation or stagflation, Isakson has coined the word “reflation,” getting the economy pumped back up to former levels.

At 65, Isakson said he is committed to helping the economy rebound for the sake of his eight grandchildren plus another one on the way.

In other topics, Isakson said he is hopeful that the latest judicial hearing on the tri-state water waters will determine that Atlanta is entitled to get more access of Lake Lanier’s water. Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been fighting over the region’s water for more than a decade.

If this hearing fails to find a compromise, Isakson said it’s time to get the governors in the three states together with their U.S. senators to work on a solution.

“We have had far too much litigation and far too little conversation,” Isakson said.

On high speed rail, Isakson said he would like to have government invest in the infrastructure to create a state-of-the-art rail system, but then let the rail service be run by private companies, paralleling the way that airports and airlines operate.

Asked about whether Georgia would be able to keep the endangered federal allocation of more than $80 million for a commuter rail line between Atlanta and Lovejoy, Isakson did not sound optimistic.

“The closing of the Ford plant was very problematic for that,” the senator said about not having that job center and its potential commuters along those tracks. “Losing the Ford plan on that line did not help at all.”

Federal transportation officials have let in be known that states not actively using allocated dollars stand to lose out. Georgia has had access to those federal funds for more than a decade, but it has failed to get the commuter rail line moving ahead.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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