The good news, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss said, is that Congress has been on break for about two weeks.
“Therefore we have not been able to do any damage to you,” he said. “The bad news is we’re back in session next week.”
Chambliss, one of Georgia’s two senators, spoke Thursday to members of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce during a barbecue lunch at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.
He covered topics ranging from the price of gas and the skyrocketing deficit to transportation and health care.
John Rasper, owner of DeKalb Office, found Chambliss optimistic.
“He was very upbeat talking about the changes that are going on and most of it is going to be good for business, which is good for everybody,” Rasper said.
Chambliss, a Republican from Moultrie, was frank with the crowd. With primary elections a few months off and the presidential election in November, Congress is “not doing much of anything.”
But he did highlight some accomplishments before Congress went on spring break, including reauthorizing a transportation bill.
“We now live in a post-earmark world,” he said, meaning the two-year renewal of the transportation funding does not include special pet projects. Instead, the allocated funds go directly to various state transportation departments for projects deemed important.
“We’ll find out whether that works better than the earmarking system, and frankly I think it will,” he said. “We’ve got more highways promised around the state of Georgia than we can possibly ever build in the lifetime of all of us in this room.
“We need to get some of the politics out of it.”
Chambliss also touched on the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing. There are no guarantees, but the senator expects the individual mandate requiring people to buy insurance will be overturned.
Whether it’s the whole law or just parts, Republicans need to be ready.
“The health care system in this country has got to be reformed and the worst thing we can do is just sit around and gloat about ObamaCare being declared unconstitutional and not be prepared to come forward with some sort of proposal that lets us move health care in the right direction,” he said.
Chambliss also noted his work in the “Gang of Six,” a group of legislators on both sides of the aisle who came together in an attempt to address the nation’s debt.
It was a message Marc Morris, president of The Talmadge Group, appreciated.
“But what I would like to hear from our government as a whole is … if we sacrifice, what’s going to be the payback? Are we going to pay down the debt,” he said. “It seems like we have a good vision for identifying what’s going to be cut, and we have a good vision for spending, but we never talk about how the two are going to meet in the middle.”