An estimated crowd of 200 showed up to hear and question Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) during one of his four town hall meetings. Woodall fielded questions and waylaid concerns about healthcare reform, government spending, energy and the economy.
“You would have been proud to witness what happened last week on the floor of the House (of Representatives). For the first time in quite some time the floor was open to any member to bring forth ideas to get things moving with the economy. Democrats, to their credit had an open floor, but the Republicans did not want to cooperate in order to make the Democrats look bad,” said Woodall. “But last week ideas came from both sides and decisions were being made with people talking and working together.”
Woodall told audience that while the 7th Congressional District is far more conservative than the rest of the country, the country is a “center right nation." He said opportunities to turn corner to make things better in the days ahead, will come from the house willingness to work from the middle because that is what the people want.
“If we continue to work together, as the people expect us to, we won’t have to shut down the government. And the House will work the way our founding fathers intended,” said Woodall.
Repealing healthcare reform
After being asked if he would join Republicans in repealing healthcare reform, Woodall asked the audience if they believed cost of health insurance was to high. The majority of audience agreed. When Woodall asked if pre-existing conditions should be done away with, the audience also agreed. And when asked if parents should be allowed to keep 26-year-olds on coverage, the audience signaled being in favor.
“The President identified the right problems with healthcare, but applied the wrong solution,” said Woodall.
When pressed about how insurance companies should be regulated, Woodall said, “States are the proper regulatory authorities. Most states have an elected insurance commissioner. Why not let them do what the people elected them to do? To work with other state regulators to make good decisions. I want healthcare to stay local and not transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Gas prices and the environment
Asked if growing would encourage the House to pressure the Department of the Interior to start drilling now, Woodall said “absolutely."
“We have an executive that is not willing to expand because options are too carbon intensive. Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security issue. We don’t need to be dependent. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have natural gas and oil deposits to make us independent. As for solar energy, we weren’t ready, under the (Jimmy) Carter administration, and science wasn’t ready. But today we working to make viable alternatives,” said Woodall.
Robert Thompson, Fleet Manager at Honda Mall of Georgia, attended town hall meeting to ask about the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He cited EPA regulations that are prohibitive to selling Honda GX, its “greenest” manufactured automobile.
“I came because I participate in the process. The EPA is an impediment to economy recovery because they are tasked with making the U.S. energy independent, but they have made us more dependent. And they are costing us more money with little benefits,” said Thompson.
Woodall, whose parents are organic farmers, said as a conservative he will not be afraid to put his environmental record up against anyone. He went on to say that a strong economy, in any country, must include successful green programs.
In response to a question as to why the taxpayers are responsible for defaults of mortgages and student loans, Woodall said it is because we made promises that we can no longer afford to keep. As a country, Woodall said, we fell asleep at the wheel. Now we need to stop making promises that gets us into these financial situations.
He told the audience that zero down mortgages are being offered again. “This district voted against bailouts. We are a group of risk takers. And we understand that freedom means freedom to fail.”
“It is the regulations that run businesses out of this country. The President, in efforts to grow economy, lowered corporate taxes rate by 10 percent. I would like to abolish corporate taxes rates. They are job destroyers,” said Woodall.
Woodall told the audience that conversations will start next week to address tax reform. Woodall, during the campaign, said he will get a FairTax hearing. He is also credited with reintroducing FairTax legislation, H.R. 25.
“We elected a new congressman to get some movement on fair taxes issues. I am concerned with the way the middle and low classes are being taxed,” said Jack Shulin, fair taxes community activist.
After an audience member said she believes Obamacare is an entitlement, but that Social Security is not because she paid into social security, Woodall explained. He told the audience that entitlements are government funded programs, but healthcare is individually funded.
“The 1.6 trillion dollar deficit is due, in parts, to one-third of new spending programs, one-third due to lost revenues and one-third due to entitlements. Social Security is not going away. In 2027 recipients will get 80% instead of 100%. Medicare is the problem, because we made it a problem. We do these things to ourselves,” said Woodall.
Woodall touted the recent visit by , to Gwinnett County as proof of having the best education system in the country. But his comment caused one audience member to shout disagreement. The congressman extended an invitation to discuss their difference in opinion after the meeting.
“I do not like No Child Left Behind. I like the Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich comprised approach. I believe local control is better. Local control knows how to measure performance better. Locally school systems are better at aggregating data,” said Woodall.
He referenced as an example of education excellence.
In concluding this town hall meeting Woodall extended an invitation to the audience to make appointments for one-on-one discussions about issues and concerns. He also encouraged the audience to continue to stay involved and engaged in the political process.
“It was a magical day the day President Obama was sworn in. I was there. People came from all over the country to see this history making event in 2008. Then the Tea Party showed up and caused change in 2010. I can’t wait until 2012 when the Obama supporters and the Tea Party will all come out for what could be the biggest demonstration of democracy this country has ever seen,” said Woodall.