Congressman Tom Graves said he's concerned that 23 million Americans are still out of work while the nation's government is on the edge of a so-called "fiscal cliff," but he said the "clear answer" to those problems and others is for the economy to expand.
That means government should institute policies to get out of the way so people can do business, he said, including eliminating "unconstitutional" mandates such as the health care plan critics refer to as "Obamacare." Graves, considered by many to be a champion of the Tea Party movement, talked with constituents one-on-one over cookies and coffee at his Dalton office Monday evening.
Asked what he thought of the fiscal cliff -- a set of $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January if Congress doesn't act -- Graves said his plans to address the situation don't include new taxes.
"I want to see tax rates stay where they are," he said. "I don't want to see them raised in any way."
He added he wouldn't be opposed to cutting them. As for expanding the economy, Graves said he wants to reduce the size of government. Asked which programs or other facets of government he would cut, he said the plan "is really not about eliminating."
"Let's just agree that government should only be so big," he said.
He said government officials should empower the private sector through government policies that are less intrusive so employers are better able to create and retain jobs.
Dalton resident Wally Campbell bemoaned the fact the United States is divided into "two countries" -- Democrat and Republican -- who can't seem to find common ground.
"It's not a big concern," he said when asked which political issues concerned him most, "but the biggest concern is just working our way back to where we can unite."
He cited the nation's financial situation and lack of enough federal funding for schools as two issues he believes need attention.
Gordon County resident Pat Jennings said she's concerned about the federal government's budget "or the lack of," and only halfway jokes that she could fix it herself if allowed to. She said she's concerned about the government's treatment of veterans, like her son who she said retired from the Army a year ago but has yet to receive his retirement pay.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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