U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Sea Island, said when it comes to the nation’s Confederate monuments following the protest-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, the rest of the U.S. could learn something from two Southern cities’ leaders.
Perdue praised Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach and Charleston (South Carolina) Mayor John Teckelenburg for saying those cities should tell the full story behind its Confederate monuments, add context to them and open a dialogue with each city’s residents about the issue.
“Personally, the monuments and that whole memorabilia … (are) a part of history, but it needs to have context. … It can’t be offensive. We need to be sensitive to the emotions and concerns of everybody involved,” he said, adding he’s as a native Southerner but grew up in Warner Robins, a military town with a very diverse population of people from all over the world, he’s seen both sides of the issue.
Perdue spoke on that topic and much more both during and after the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber’s monthly luncheon Aug. 23 at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North hotel in Sandy Springs. Elected to his first term in 2014, he has been compared to President Donald Trump because of his business background. Perdue was the CEO of both Dollar General, a chain of discount retailers, and Reebok, an athletic shoe and apparel company, and is the only member of Congress who is a former Fortune 500 company CEO.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, who introduced Perdue before his speech, talked about the senator’s role in helping Trump “drain the swamp,” referring to the phrase the president has used about eradicating Washington of political corruption.
“He’s got a hand on the plug on the swamp. He just needs a little help pulling it up,” Paul said.
Perdue, Georgia’s junior senator, said since Trump took office in January, he has done all he can to try to repeal or scrap Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and make other positive changes to the nation’s health care system.
“I dived right into the swamp up there,” he said.
Perdue was praised in July for getting Congress to delay its annual August recess so it could pass more legislation, since the group has been criticized for a lack of action due to squabbles between Democrats and Republicans.
“People expect us to get results, and we want to make sure we pass this (set of bills). … Hopefully this will set us up going back (in September),” he said.
One issue Perdue said he hopes to tackle is the national debt, which has exploded from $5.76 trillion in 2000 to $19.85 trillion as of Aug. 23.
“With our commitments today with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, pension benefits and interest on the debt, those five things, it will cost us $130 trillion over the next 30 years, $4 trillion a year,” he said. “There’s no way bond markets will be able to support that.”
Approving a budget, which must be done by Oct. 1, when the next federal fiscal year begins, is another priority, Perdue said.
He was criticized earlier this year for not hosting town hall meetings to hear constituents’ concerns, something some of his fellow senators, including Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, do. Perdue said he has no plans to start hosting town hall meetings but his staff receives feedback from Georgians daily and addresses their concerns.
“We get a lot of input every day from people here in Georgia, on both sides of the issues,” he said, adding he does speak at events and meet with people all over the state.
Perdue praised Trump for the progress the country has made with illegal immigration, the economy and other issues since he took office.
“We have fewer illegal border crossing on the southern border, something like a 50 percent reduction,” he said. “… Consumer confidence is at a 16-year high. CEO confidence is at a 20-year high.”
Regarding Trump’s plan to send 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where the U.S. has fought a war since 2001, Perdue said, “First of all, you have Georgia troops about to leave sometime in September to Afghanistan to relieve some other troops. What this president has done is what we’ve been asking for, for 15 years, both Republican leadership and Democratic leadership.
“And now we have this guy, who has no political background and says, ‘I just want results.’ He goes to the military people and says, ‘What’s the mission? How do you define victory? If that’s the victory and the mission we agree on, how do we achieve that?’ Here’s the mission: We want to deny radical Islamic terrorists a platform from which they can cause harm in the United States.”