Third District Congressman Lynn Westmoreland came to Thomaston Monday night to talk with constituents in a Town Hall meeting at R. E. Lee Auditorium. Westmoreland answered questions and talked about the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, the IRS and NSA, protecting states rights, the national debt, Common Core, and veterans.
Rather than hosting a traditional question and answer period, Westmoreland had the attendees write down their questions as they came in. A group of fifth grade students from Upson-Lee North Elementary took turns handing the questions to him.
Q. Are you and your staff accepting Obama’s subsidy for Obamacare?
A. Westmoreland stated that he is on state insurance, but that for those members of Congress and their staffs whose states do not provide insurance coverage, they are on federal insurance and that a omission in Obamacare would have meant that on January 1, 2014, instead of the federal government paying 75 percent of the staffers’ premiums, the staffers would have had to start paying 100 percent of their premiums. He said the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) made a change to correct the omission, but that Congress and its staff will still be subject to Obamacare like everyone else.
Q. Where do you stand on voting to withhold money on Obamacare?
A. Westmoreland stated that he will not vote for the Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government running, because even though the CR is just a continuation of the programs running today, there is no guarantee Obamacare would not be covered by the CR.
Q. What are you going to do to abolish the IRS and the NSA? (Applause)
A. Westmoreland said we don’t need to reform our tax code, we need to replace it. He said the IRS is totally out of control and needs some work. But Westmoreland said he doesn’t agree on abolishing the NSA, because it does do some good things. He said there are answers to the questions about what the NSA is doing, but they can’t be revealed because they are classified. He said he is working to get it de-classified so the government can show the people what has really happened.
Q. Why aren’t our elected officials stopping all the criminal, treasonable things Obama has done and prosecuting him? The Republicans have lost our trust.
A. Westmoreland said in 2009 when Obama was first sworn in, he passed some executive orders that he knew would not pass in the Congress. Westmoreland said the Republican House, in turn, would pass some legislation that made his executive order void. He said it made everything they did look personal and partisan. He said a lot of truth is starting to come out now on what Obama has done, and is proving the Republicans a message that the Obama Administration is not a very straightforward administration. Westmoreland said he would love for something to be done, but that it is hard to do when you only control one-half of one-third of the government.
Q. What are you and other members of Congress doing to protect our states’ rights? (Asked by the fifth grade students from ULNE)
A. Westmoreland said the Republican Caucus believes that any right that is not given to the federal government should go back to the states. But he said the problem is that the states have become as dependent as a lot of people on the federal government, and that a lot of states will sell their independence for federal handouts.
Q. The National Debt in 2005, the year you came to Congress, was approximately $7 trillion. Today it is almost $17 trillion. All we hear is the Democrats talking. At what point do you admit that your presence in Congress has done nothing to stop the outrageous growth of the debt?
A. Westmoreland replied that in 2005 the U.S. entered into a new phase in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2006 Republicans lost the Congressional elections, and the Democrats had control of the House. In 2008 the President was elected and the Democrats controlled Congress. That’s when things started going downhill, he stated. Between the stimulus and their budgets, a lot of agencies got as much as 75 percent increases. Right now, due to sequestration and due to the budget, that deficit number has come down. But it took 50-60 years to get where we’re at, and it is going to take time to get back.
A. Westmoreland said he has voted against Obamacare 40 times and will vote against it again. He said it has cost the country about $2 trillion. A lot of people will lose their health insurance coverage if it does not meet the federal standards. Westmoreland said the worse thing is that we will become a part-time workforce, with people having to work second and third jobs just to meet their healthcare premiums.
Q. Why has the U. S. Department of Education partnered with a Muslim Brotherhood Foundation on Common Core?
A. Westmoreland said supposedly the states got together to develop Common Core in order to have similar standards. He said the federal government does not need to be involved in education. He said if the federal government got out of education, every student would get an additional $1,400 in classroom education. But, he added, in Common Core, the states buy the books, not the federal government, and that people need to ask their state legislators what they are doing.
Q. How are you, as a member of Congress, going to assure us that any abuse by the NSA will be stopped?
A. Westmoreland said they are going to do everything they can to make sure the people are protected. But, he added, what the NSA does is a covert, secret intelligence agency which can’t reveal too much information. He said if the NSA is doing their job and doing the procedures they are supposed to be doing, we need to let them do their job.
Q. Does the VFW have any support in Congress?
A. Westmoreland said he supports the armed services. He said the VFW has a presence in Washington, but they only come up once or twice a year and doesn’t really have a lobby group. Westmoreland did admit that the government is not doing a very good job treating veterans, and said changes needs to be made.
Q. Why don’t the Republicans push back against the Democrats?
A. Westmoreland said the ones who are really trying to push an agenda for America get caught up in political correctness. He added that some people in the media also have problems with people telling the truth. He said the Republicans are not running away from the fight, but are fighting people with a lot more ink that they do, and that people tend to believe a media source more than they do Republicans.
Q. How did you vote on the Amash Amendment and what are you doing to protect our 4th Amendment rights against big government?
A. Westmoreland said the Amash Amendment did away with the surveillance program. But he said Congressman Justin Amash is not on any of the committees dealing with intelligence and homeland security. Westmoreland said he voted against the amendment and will not vote to do away with a program that is protecting American lives. But, he added, he will work to make sure that the program does not violate the 4th Amendment.
Westmoreland ended the Town Hall meeting by stating that any questions he did not answer during the meeting will be answered in writing and mailed to the person who wrote the question.