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Senators Isakson, Chambliss visit YHC

September 16, 2011 Comments off

Senators Isakson and Chambliss shake hands with students and community members at the Town Hall meeting held in the Recreation and Fitness Center. Photo by Ashton Jones

By Ali Neese, Staff Writer

Georgia’s two senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) came to the Young Harris College campus to host a town hall meeting on August 30.  The senators discussed current issues and gave both students and the townspeople an opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions.

YHC President Cathy Cox opened the assembly by greeting the students and members of the community. Rev. Dr. Tim Moore, campus minister, led the invocation and Student Government Association President Emalyn Cork led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Local elected officials from Towns and Union Counties were recognized.

The senators began by sharing a bit of their background. Chambliss and Isakson graduated from the University of Georgia in the same year, both with business degrees. Chambliss received his law degree from the University of Tennessee and Isakson served in the Georgia Air National Guard. Each shared stories about their political careers and their rise to the Senate before the start of the meeting.

Isakson began his address to the audience by saying that town hall meetings are “about you and us listening to you.”

Isakson spoke about the importance of living within one’s means and the U.S. government’s need to do the same, reforming Social Security, fixing Medicare and advocating for tax reform.

Isakson then turned over the floor to Chambliss, who stressed they were “here primarily to hear from you.”

Chambliss went on to say that the United States is in a lot of trouble that had been building up for years. He identified the national debt, as opposed to terrorism, as the number one security concern for the country.  Chambliss said if the debt problem is not fixed, then his will be the first generation in history to leave the country in worse shape than when they received it. Chambliss reiterated they have to find a way to increase revenue in ways other than raising taxes.

His suggestions for increasing revenue included reducing tax rates, invigorating the economy and expanding the tax base of people going to work.

After the senators spoke, they opened up the floor for questions from the audience.

One question, asked by junior history major Ali Manzanares from Chatsworth, dealt with controversy over immigration. Manzanares asked the senators if immigration had  impacted the country at the national level.

The senators said border security needs to be put first and then they need to figure out how to deal with the people who are in the United States illegally. The senators said it is a huge problem in Georgia that they believe that it should be dealt with “quickly and frankly.”

Both senators believe there should not be 50 different immigration laws across the country.

Another question dealt with the Pell Grant, which many YHC students benefit from, and asked if funds for the scholarship would be cut. The senators answered that the government needs to prioritize the money that is spent, investing money in education instead of the Middle East.

Many other questions were covered in this hour-long meeting, including one man making the claim that he knew of more than 20 nuclear bombs west of Mississippi, though his claims were quickly dismissed by the crowd.

After the questions had been asked and the discussion time had come to a close, the senators thanked everyone for coming and encouraged them to feel free to contact each of them.