Houston & Peach

Marshall talks issues in Houston

PERRY — Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., spoke to about a dozen Houston County residents at the Perry City Hall on Friday in an open discussion of national issues. The small audience with diverse opinions lent itself to back-and-forth banter between the four-term legislator and the residents.

Warner Robins resident Richard Nadler confronted Marshall about his often right-of-center voting record. “Why do you call yourself a Democrat?” Nadler asked. “Did you even vote for Obama?”

“I’m in the Democratic Party,” Marshall responded without answering Nadler’s second question. “It’s fair to say I’m a conservative Democrat,” he added.

From the other side, Marshall defended his votes for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program bill and President Barack Obama’s January 2009 economic stimulus bill. “We are in such better shape than we would have been had we not taken the steps that we took,” he said.

“You have no facts to support that,” Jack James, an attorney in Perry, quickly retorted. James, a Republican, and Marshall had a friendly disagreement on just how many jobs the stimulus plan created.

Marshall did concede that the economic recover is “not as fast as people would like.”

Marshall, who is in a battle for a fifth term in Washington with state Rep. Austin Scott, again took aim at the heath care reform bill that Obama signed into law earlier this year.

“It is going to increase costs and a lot of people are going to be disappointed,” Marshall said.

Without a moderator, the group quizzed Marshall on a range of issues, including:

n First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent vacation in Spain: “I thought it was inappropriate, bad judgment, to take a trip to Spain,” Marshall said. “It just opened up pot-hots that get picked up and repeated.”

n The war in Afghanistan: “Some Americans are expecting the surge to have the same results as the surge in Iraq,” Marshall said. “The conditions that existed in Iraq before we surged there don’t exist in Afghanistan.”

n The proposed “cap and trade” energy bill: “I voted against it because I thought it was very unfair to the South,” Marshall said. “I’d much rather see federal investment in making clean energy cheaper.”

n The rising national debt: “I’ve voted against every Democratic and Republican budget,” he said. “I did that because I didn’t think they were realistic in terms of long-term budget concerns.”

n On the influence of money in campaigns: Marshall said that he’d “be pleased to see publicly financed campaigns.”

In a brief interview after the town hall discussion, Marshall said that he favored extending all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts when the House of Representatives reconvenes next month, including the tax cuts for the wealthiest tax bracket.

“I don’t think it’s advisable to slow the recovery by increasing taxes,” Marshall said.

To contact writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.