U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions today spoke to Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce members and guests on national and international issues including government debt, the slow economic recovery, immigration, Alabama’s military base presence, and the United States’ reaction to Russia’s intervention in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Sessions, R-Mobile, spoke at the chamber’s monthly Eggs & Issues forum at the RSA Activity Center. Much of his 30-minute address focused on economic issues including the $17 billion debt that will reach $25 billion in the next 10 years, eating up a significant portion of tax payments as interest payments.
Sessions was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and this year seeks a fourth term.
A hawk on balanced budgets, Sessions said President Obama’s $791 billion budget presented to Congress this year violates the budget spending agreement he signed by $114 billion, including $56 billion above the budget agreement spending cap. Increased spending adds $8.3 trillion to the nation’s debt and will require $812 billion in annual interest payments, up from $221 billion last year.
“Since 2009, the government debt has increased 64 percent, the total debt will be double by the end of 2018,” Sessions said. “The fastest growing item is interest on the debt. Balancing the budget is a positive step for America.”
Sessions said that since 2009 the nation has seen the slowest economic recovery since World War II, “really since the Great Depression.” He said the economy can be boosted by more energy production, less government debt, fewer inhibiting taxes and regulations, and revamped social welfare programs.
“Too many people are dependent and damaged psychologically from not being able to work and who are dependent on government,” he said. “We have way too many taxes, we need to eliminate every regulation that’s not positive. We should put this country on a sound financial path for the future – we should set spending limits that will put us on a sound path.”
Understanding Montgomery’s dependence on the financial impact of Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Sessions said he believes another round of Base Realignment and Closing recently advocated by the Obama Administration is not needed. “But there will be belt tightening,” Sessions said.
Turning to immigration, Sessions advocated a “lawful system of immigration.” “We need to decide how many workers we need and what skills they need that will serve the national interest,” he said.
Sessions said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s takeover of Crimea is “is very bad for the world and the United States and stability” but President Obama’s response so far has been “insufficient.”
“If you say, ‘okay Mr. Putin, you get to keep Crimea, but if you do it again, next time we’re going to be mean’,” he said. “This is not the way a great nation conducts foreign policy. (Putin) calculated this move that nothing is going to happen.”
Sessions drew a few cheers when asked if he will run for president in 2016. He deflected by saying that some issues he is discussing are resonating and they are “good, sound policy for America.”
But he drew laughter when he said, “I know I’m not qualified to be president … it’s a very tough job.” He said his focus is on spending and debt, and a sound foreign policy that serves the nation’s interests.