North Forsyth High government and history students learned about Congress directly from one of its members Thursday.
During a visit to the school, District 9 U.S. Rep. Doug Collins fielded a variety of questions ranging from the Fair Tax to which hair products he uses.
The bulk of the conversation, however, was on key issues currently facing Congress, including the minimum wage debate, legalization of marijuana, the budget, social issues and the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
A conservative Republican from nearby Gainesville, Collins said he stands with his constituents on social issues, particularly pro-life.
Though he didn’t say he was against legalization of marijuana, the congressman said there are many issues to consider, including rights for those who smoke legally in another state but get fired from a job for testing positive on a drug test.
Republicans, he said, have “done a pretty bad job” of communicating the importance of conservative issues, adding they’re not keeping up with the “change in the dynamic of our country.”
Collins, whose district includes north Forsyth, said he was in favor of the Fair Tax, doesn’t see enough of a benefit to outweigh the downside to a minimum wage hike and called Obamacare a disaster.
When pressed by a student for a different health care remedy, Collins said major government intervention isn’t necessary. Smaller changes, such as adjusting reimbursement rates and allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, would be enough.
Collins was asked several times about the partisan politics and constant bickering across the aisle. He compared it to buying a car.
When a deal is struck between the $22,000 sticker price and the $18,000 counter offer, both sides say they’ve lost. But in the end, the consumer bought a car and the dealer made a profit.
“We all have a difference of opinion, but how we express those is what I think is missing from civil discourse [in Washington, D.C.],” he said.