Westmoreland covers issues with supporters, critics
by Clay Neely
Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga. Third District, addressed a multitude of issues during a town hall meeting at the historic Coweta County Courthouse in Newnan Tuesday evening.
Speaking to a capacity crowd, Westmoreland addressed many of the hot-button issues of the day.
Questions ranged from the boundaries of the NSA (as Westmoreland serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight) to issues such as health care reform, student loans, the ongoing investigation into Benghazi and the identity crisis the GOP appears to be undergoing.
The initial questions for the town hall were written down and placed in a basket prior to the event in order to preserve a sense of fairness for the meeting, although it did not stop several people from asking questions or expressing their own views from the floor.
In regards to his position on immigration reform, Westmoreland reiterated explicitly, 'I will not vote for anything that creates amnesty.'
'Until our nation's border guards are allowed to do their job, there is no point in employing more [guards].'
Questions regarding the NSA were also abundant, with Westmoreland explaining the process in which the NSA keeps track of phone records without any personal data, strictly numbers. When a suspect is seized, he said, the NSA will run their phone contacts through the database for any numeric matches. Only when phone numbers match are warrants issued to determine to whom the phone numbers belong.
'No one trusts the government,' noted Westmoreland - a comment which elicited great applause from the standing-room-only crowd. In regards to the congressional exemption from the Affordable Care Act, Westmoreland simply answered 'no,' also citing his work on the 'Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013.'
One question directed toward Westmoreland was in regards to the inability for any kind of legislation to move forward from the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. One town hall participant asked the fifth-term U.S. Representative: 'Is this the most unproductive Congress ever?' Westmoreland responded by comparing the ongoing work of the House of Representatives to driving golf balls at a driving range.
'A person can hit a ball 350 yards straight on a driving range. But when they're on the actual golf course when it counts, you don't get a second chance if the ball hits the rough. The House is essentially hitting 'range balls' when it comes to legislation.
'Unless the Senate acts upon it, all that we have worked for is for nothing.'
This analogy segued into another comment regarding the overall dissatisfaction of elected officials, focusing mainly on their inability to bypass the current state of gridlock that appears to have ground Washington, D.C., to a halt. Westmoreland imparted the fact gridlock is not necessarily a bad thing since no poor legislation can get through.
'In what we're dealing with right now, the best offense is a good defense. It's like a game of football. If the other team can't touch the ball, they can't score,' Westmoreland said.
He empathized with the frustrations of his constituents in regards to his colleagues in Washington, D.C., and stated Tuesday that if the public wants real change, it's up to them.
As the meeting progressed into the evening, questions and comments from the floor became more frequent and emotional, with multiple inquiries on the possibility of impeaching the president - which drew resounding applause from many of the attendees.
The question-and-answer period lasted a little over an hour-and-a-half before formally adjourning. Westmoreland remained to speak one on one with attendees.
Following the meeting, attendee Don Latham was unimpressed with Westmoreland's responses to several key issues that concerned him.
'Problems, problems, problems ,' groaned Latham in regards to the representative's view on the gridlock in Washington, D.C. 'He says, 'It's the Senate, it's their fault. Someone else needs to do something?' What the h--is my congressman supposed to be doing?'
Latham shook his head. 'So we're supposed to watch it all go down the tubes then have him say it's up to us to fix it? Unbelievable.'
Another town hall attendee, Erica Morris Long, was unsatisf ied with Westmoreland's response to her questions regarding the Affordable Care Act and what her options were as a small business owner who is looking for health insurance.
'The option he mentioned to me was a health savings account. Even if I had one, it would not allow me to obtain the preventative care that one can get under the Affordable Care Act without having to come out of pocket. He didn't consider that a young person could have a pre-existing condition that would block them from a lot of the options that are out there.'
Long continued, 'I thought he was misleading his constituents. I'm sure there are a lot of people here tonight who may own their own business and shouldn't have to have a job with a big corporation in order to receive affordable health care.'