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Congressman offers update on fiscal cliff

Final telephone town hall nears

POSTED: December 14, 2012 12:32 a.m.
 

Fiscal cliff negotiations haven’t progressed much since District 7 U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall held his first telephone town hall meeting last week.

And the congressman’s not optimistic that will change before his third and final talk Saturday morning.

“What we found is there’s not a lot of talking going on at all,” Woodall said shortly before addressing the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning.  “I’m optimistic that the quiet of this week is really producing some headway.”

Woodall, a Republican from Lawrenceville, represents a district that includes the southern half of Forsyth County and a large portion of Gwinnett.

The northern half of Forsyth is in District 9, which covers much of northeast Georgia.

During Tuesday night’s town hall, Woodall talked to constituents about the lack of progress, the “real disagreement in Washington” over the fiscal cliff and other budget issues, including the next hurdle of needing to raise the debt ceiling to pay off money borrowed.

Woodall took multiple polls from the hundreds of constituents who’ve called in during the first two meetings, including asking if the tax burdens are fair and if an increase in taxes is acceptable if it’s accompanied by an equal decrease in spending.

The congressman conceded to make progress in the House, “I can’t enforce the will of the 7th District all the time,” he said, noting he would support raising revenue in exchange for serious spending cuts from the government.

“We didn’t get into this mess overnight and we’re not going to get out of this mess overnight,” he said. “When you borrow money, the day of reckoning comes.”

Despite the hype of the fiscal cliff, the $500 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to automatically start at the new year if congress can’t reach a compromise on spending, Woodall said the money involved is only the halfway point toward reaching a balanced budget.

“It solves only half of the problem we’re going to have in 2013,” he said. “One of these days, we’re going to have to pay our bills … we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. We absolutely have to take a stand.”

If no deal is reached, speculation is that a recession would be the likely outcome of the fiscal cliff.

“I think that’s probably true,” Woodall said. “The president is using the word recession to scare the American people.”

But really, he said, a recession is just when the economy shrinks three quarters in a row, and with government spending being 26 percent of the economy, while it would hurt the economy short term, it would also mean less government spending.

About 54 percent of those polled during the town hall Tuesday said they’d support tax or revenue increases if accompanied by spending decreases. Wednesday morning, Woodall spoke on the House floor, challenging Democrats to “make it hard on me as a freshman and a conservative.”

“Lay out those tax increases right beside solutions to the real problem, which is spending, and make those spending reductions so large, and so helpful to the American economy, that I would have no choice but to agree to your tax increases so that we can save the country from the real problem, which is spending.”

 

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