U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican who represents the states 8th Congressional District and much of Middle Georgia, held a town hall meeting Monday at the Georgia Farm Bureau in Macon.
He discussed defense spending, the recently passed House of Representatives budget deal, a proposed farm bill and the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on Americans. He also answered questions from people in the audience, who numbered about three dozen.
If you listen to peoples concerns, its about health care, its about the economy, its about jobs, its about Robins Air Force Base, its about agriculture, Scott said.
While approval ratings for Congress in 2013 averaged just 14 percent, according to Gallup polls, Scott focused on the House of Representatives success in passing a bipartisan budget deal that would set spending for domestic and defense into 2015 and avoid another government shutdown.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the budget bill this week.
Scott said blame for congressional inaction should fall on the Senate, and he cited the House of Representatives passage of a National Defense Authorization Act bill, which specifies the budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Senates failure to bring that bill to a vote.
And although the House and Senate have not yet agreed on a farm bill for 2014, Scott touted the $40 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program included in the House version. The Senate version of the bill would only cut $4.5 billion to the program.
Scott said the cuts are necessary to prevent abuse, and so we get it back to where it was supposed to be, helping people at or below the 130 percent of the federal poverty level and making sure it is temporary assistance for needy families.
Scott critical of Affordable Care Act
Im one of those who would love to repeal it and replace it, Scott said Monday of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
In presenting the impacts of the law, Scott said 5 million Americans will lose their current health plans and that some Americans are seeing premium increases of as much as 400 percent.
Media reports suggest millions of Americans are being sent cancelation letters from their insurers, but estimates vary as to how many. Scotts 5 million figure comes from Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
The 400-percent premium increase figure also comes from the Energy & Commerce Committee, which sent letters in March to 17 of the largest health insurance companies in the country and asked them for an analysis of possible premium increases. The report, published in May, estimated premiums for Georgians would increase between 15 percent in large group markets to 145 percent in individual markets.
Robins Air Force Base
Part of the House budget deal, which Scott voted for, would restore $31 billion in sequester cuts to defense spending.
We have made significant progress in halting the decline in our military strength and the erosion of defense readiness, Scott said in a news release last week.
We dont need to think that we dont have enemies out there, he said Monday.
To protect jobs and the economic impact of Robins, Scott said he wants approval for the base to compete for business across all armed service branches.
If we can rebuild a C-130 for the Air Force, we can rebuild it for another branch, he said. If were able to do that, then quite honestly I think we would see growth in Robins Air Force Base.
To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.