Politics & Government

Scott takes swing through midstate high schools

WARNER ROBINS -- U.S. Rep. Austin Scott spoke to a group in Warner Robins on Monday, but it wasn’t a fundraiser or a campaign appearance.

Instead, he was addressing an Advanced Placement class on U.S. government at Warner Robins High School.

“I think it’s one of the most important things we do as members of Congress,” said Scott, R-Ga., pointing to the growing disenchantment with some aspects of government. “These young people need to know that they matter.”

Scott, who represents a district that spans from Monroe County through parts of Bibb County and south toward the Georgia-Florida border, came to Louis Leskosky’s class at the suggestion of Carmen Foskey. The Warner Robins graduate worked on Scott’s campaign as an intern while she was a student.

He also visited Veterans and Mary Persons high schools to deliver letters for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy to Michael Taylor, Brett Decker and Jason Hightower.

Scott spoke to the Warner Robins High students mostly about the process of getting legislation through the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“That’s really sort of what we touch on in the class,” Leskosky said.

One of the first things he discussed with the class was the way the representatives interact during the session. While Scott recognized that the legislative branch is often depicted as a dysfunctional, bipartisan body, he said the group is usually able to come together for the greater good.

The representatives that are brought in for cable television interviews, he said, often represent the most polar ends on a topic, which creates conflict -- and interest.

“It’s not as bad as it seems on TV,” Scott said. “For the most part, we’re able to solve some problems.”

He also talked about the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual measure that will be discussed this week. While a Base Realignment and Closure initiative will not be a part of that act, Scott said he felt good about Robins Air Force Base’s future if one does come up.

Such a process might have been cause for concern a few years ago because of production levels at the base at that time, but not now.

“Today, productivity is way up,” he said. “I actually expect that our base would grow now.”

The students were given time to ask the congressman questions, and they got specific. A couple of them asked about the future of the Social Security program and how it can be fixed for future generations.

“The problem is there are fewer people working per person that’s retired,” Scott said, suggesting a model where the retirement age would increase relative to a person’s current age. “The fact is, the formula today is not sustainable.”

Scott described the students’ questions as “wonderful” afterward.

“I thought they were exceptionally well-thought-out questions,” he said.

Junior Courtney Crossan also appreciated the chance to hear Scott’s responses live.

“You read about what he stands for in the newspapers, but it’s different hearing it in person,” she said.

That experience is exactly what made the presentation worthwhile, said principal Steve Monday. Instead of studying hypothetical scenarios or the legislation of the past, the students got to hear about what’s going on now in the federal government.

“To have a sitting congressman come in and bring in real-life situations to the students, there’s no substitute for that,” Monday said.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.