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Straight from the Mike: A grand pair of patriots


Our nation lost a pair of significant statesmen, gentleman leaders, and family men recently. Senator Robert Dole and Senator Johnny Isakson represented so much of what we need today and how important being a relevant representative of the people was ‘back in the day’.

First, I would like to share some observations about Senator Dole. I never had the privilege of meeting the senator. However, I saw up close his unique dry wit and vision that made him an exceptional leader during a critical time in our nation’s history. He unselfishly offered himself to the country in his run for president in 1996.  I do know he had a superb sidekick in tandem for his White House race by the name of Jack Kemp.  Fortunately, I became aware of Senator Dole’s desire to assist small businesses and the working class by trying to address the burdensome federal tax code. 

Senator Dole commissioned a group to meet with elected officials and respected business leaders to find an alternative to the tax code. As I recall, the esteemed group I met in Boston decades ago consisted of Massachutes Governor William Weld, Honorable Jack Kemp, National Restaurant President Herman Cain, and Atlanta home builder John Wieland. They received testimony from centers of influence in Boston and several other cities across the country. Surprisingly, the most impactful recommendation put forth was for the elimination of the payroll tax. Senator Dole used part of the findings from the task force to formulate the Dole Kemp American Dream Plan, which included a portion that called for the replacement of the tax code.

Interestingly enough, our tax code still goes begging, in my opinion, for real change.  I am not referring to mere simplification, not the usual political speak or another 2,000 page document that no elected representative will even read.  A friend of mine reached out to remind me that I did not reveal my preference in a prior column I penned mentioning taxes and my disappointment with the current tax code.

Bulletin, bulletin: I have been a Fair Tax Plan supporter ever since it was introduced by Congressmen Linder (R-GA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN). No, it is not perfect but it does get to the nemesis group – the underground economy. 

This is the very contingent that is ripping us down with little pangs of conscience, to say the least. Yeah, you know the folks that don’t hesitate to take money ‘under the table’ or ‘off the books’. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and we will have to see what the future holds. 

Something has got to give. Senator Russell Long perhaps put it best, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.” Let me hasten to point out, the Fair Tax Plan had a carve out for lower income wage earners in their purchase of stable items.

Now, the other patriot who deserves our respect and special mention for his years of tireless service and representation for our state is Senator Johnny Isakson.  He was a senate stalwart and served with distinction as Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. His office assisted several veteran friends of mine that had literally hit the wall and was viscerally frustrated from the red tape of the Veterans Administration. 

It was one call and that’s all it took for his team to get to work and make things happen. Additionally, I can recall meeting and chatting with the Senator in Savannah a number of years past where he hosted a forum for nonprofits to get access to government grants and capacity building support.

It would be the greatest tribute to the legacy of these two political giants for us to somehow return to the politics of solutions, regardless of party, to address the challenges at hand. They both mastered the art of finding common ground and compromise. 

Name-calling and personal attacks were simply not in their vocabulary or repertoire.  It is quite clear that this current day ‘bridge out’ road is not connecting for our country’s best interest.

Perhaps former Congressman, William Clay, (D-MO) put it best in his book titled, “No such thing as permanent friends, just permanent interest.”

RIP mighty servants, you stayed the course and served us well. You will be missed.


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