Gingrey Hears Anger, Impatience at Kennesaw Town-Hall Meeting
The 11th District congressman said today's gathering was "different" and was the most serious of those held in his recent memory.
Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) was on the defensive for nearly all of the town-hall meeting held today in Kennesaw. Near the end of the 1½-hour session, the Republican was asked if this is the best he and other Republicans can do.
"I know what they're talking about," Gingrey said of many of the comments made. "They are frustrated, and I don't have any ready answers. They're telling me the best you can do isn't good enough."
Below is the blog of the meeting:
1:45 The town-hall meeting has concluded.
1:35 Speaker said she is concerned with dependency on foreign oil. What is Gingrey doing regarding this issue? He has been on Energy and Commerce Committee for three years. The approach they are taking is to ask the President to reopen drilling in the Gulf and near California. We are using 10 million barrels of oil a day and get 60 percent of that from OPEC nations, he said. There are lots of domestic resources for energy and that’s what they are fighting for. “I would love to be the President of the United States, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Gingrey said. “Every day I get up saying how can I serve this country and this state?” Gingrey said he’s doing the best he can do and will continue to do that.
1:27 Speaker says the Republican Party needs to take action and “attack” and not just look into things. Put people back to work, he said. Bring back the common sense, he said. “We’re tired of the blame game.” He said 50 million Americans receive Social Security. Don’t cut the buying power of the American people, he said. The audience applauded the speaker’s comments. Gingrey said he will take those comments to heart.
1:24 Speaker asks about hearing about foreclosed homes being rented out by the government. Gingrey asks one of his staffers to answer because he has background in real estate. He said it’s highly unlikely the federal programs will become landlords. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to sell homes at the market price, he said.
1:20 Speaker asks about Gingrey’s views on environmental issues. Gingrey said he wants clean air and water. To not consider expanding nuclear power and other energy sources is not wise, he said. Maybe 75 years from now, our dependence on fossil fuels will be much less, he said.
1:14 Speaker said she “is disgusted with Republicans.” She is from Cherokee County and will soon be in his district. “You’re not doing any more than you have to – you have to stand up and call a liar a liar.” Gingrey said that’s a profound statement. In 9 years, Gingrey said he has seen some changes. He said we’ve been spending too much money for far too long. He gives tremendous credit to grassroots groups like the Tea Party movement.
1:07 The speaker asks about the way physicians are paid under the Medicare program. There is a formula, Gingrey said, but it’s complicated. The fee for all different services is based on what was spent to pay doctors in the previous year. For last 6 to 8 years, the formula has resulted in doctors being paid less. Congress finally said they have to be paid at least the same amount. Doctors could face a 30 percent cut in their pay, he said. Where is the money going to come from? Then Obamacare passes and says they will make cuts and Congress can’t stop them, Gingrey said.
1:00 The speaker asks why we continue to subsidize large corporations when we need to put our monies elsewhere. Gingrey said that’s a good question. They are looking at overhauling the tax code and closing some of those big loopholes. He said there may have been a reason to subsidize in the past, but not now. Big oil companies are one example, he said. “It’s really important to get it right,” Gingrey said. He said he read today where Exxon has formed a partnership with Russia to drill for oil.
12:58 A speaker brings up the issue of a bill regarding obtaining patents. Gingrey said he will look at the issue more closely.
12:50 The next speaker asks about an update on the situation with Social Security. Gingrey said there are several proposals on the table. Some programs include personal accounts owned by the person. In the Republican budget for this year, there were no proposed changes to Social Security, nor any changes by the President. There were changes to Medicare - $8,000 premium support instead of $12,000 per year. This is a baseline for a healthy retiree at age 65. That premium would go up as they age. Why change anything? By 2024, the trust fund will be insoluble and won’t be there for our children and grandchildren, he said.
12:47 The next speaker talks about illegal immigration. Gingrey says this is a timely subject. He talks about those who are charged with illegal immigration but are still able to stay in the U.S. and work. He is against that. He said to secure the borders and everyone who applies for a job must be pre-screened so you know what their immigration status is. He said he is not opposed to a temporary worker program. The crowd applauds.
12:40 The next speaker calls for eliminating all the waste in the federal government.
Gingrey says there is a lot of waste. He said he doesn’t believe in not giving foreign military aid and support to such countries as Israel. He said they will look at the President’s proposal to increase the debt ceiling. There is a group of 12 looking at this proposal – 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans. If they can’t come to an agreement, there will be across the board cuts – 50 percent coming from the Department of Defense.
12:37 Another speaker asks why there is such disparity in salaries. What can the government do about this? Gingrey says the federal government workers make more than private sector workers.
12:35 Gingrey says there is no special health care program for members of Congress. Retirement program for federal employees is similar to private programs. It may be 20 years before a member of Congress receives retirement benefits, Gingrey said.
12:28 Next speaker has been out of work for two years. Why does Congress have cuts for all kinds of benefits for others but no cuts for Congress members themselves? Also, he asks hasn’t another layer of government been added?
Gingrey said many folks ask him this same question. He has been in Congress 9 years. His salary is $170,000. That salary has been frozen for past two years. Each member of House of Representatives depends on their staff and is able to travel to their district once a week.
12:25 The first question is about the Regulatory Commission czar and other unfunded czars. Gingrey agrees this is a problem.
12:25 It’s question time.
12:22 Unemployment in Cobb is above the national average.
12:21 He is explaining how the country cannot sustain the current burden of debt.
12:20 More than 80 people have turned out and are listening to Gingrey’s slide program.
12:13 He is making the same presentation he had in Cartersville – a slide presentation.
12:11 Gingrey says everyone is concerned about the unemployment situation. Our Georgia unemployment continues to be above the national average. He doesn’t want to paint a picture of doom and gloom but knows everyone is touched by unemployment.
12:10 Congressman Gingrey is introduced and asks speakers to keep comments brief.
12:09 Mayor Mark Mathews is introduced to give a welcome from the city.
12:07 Pastor Andy Smith of Gateway Church is introduced and will be bringing the invocation.
12:02 p.m. We're live at the town hall meeting waiting for Phil Gingrey. The crowd is estimated to be around 80 people, including Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews.