Thursday May 28th, 2015 7:56AM

Collins town meeting draws small but inquisitive audience

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - From Iran to Benghazi, from catfish to cars and from immigration reform to the budget, it came up Monday night in Gainesville at 9th District Republican Congressman Doug Collins' first town hall meeting since he office in January.

The Congressman from Gainesville had a lot to say about the budget, telling his audience at Riverside Military Academy that Washington reminded him of 'Alice in Wonderland.'

"The reality is it's bad," Collins said. "That's the one thing that people need to understand when they look at the federal government, it's not an easy fix."

Collins diagrammed and commented on mandatory spending, discretionary spending, and, as Collins put it, the 'upside down nature' of the budget as it stands currently. Collins also said federal borrowing for vital services that are listed as discretionary, but should be mandatory, is too heavy.

Collins said it is generally understood in Congress that 'we can't keep doing what we're doing.' To do so defines insanity, he said, adding that the government cannot keep spending more than it makes.

"Revenue is not the problem," Collins said. "Spending is our problem."

He added that while this generation can 'get along and make it' with the current situation, if not remedied, it is going to affect this generation's children and grandchildren.

As a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Collins said he learned about the extensive and expensive departmental inspection of catfish, and a subsidized program for 'green plug-in sports cars' that left taxpayers on the hook for $200-million.

Collins also pledged to work with the Army Corps of Engineers for better management of Lake Lanier to ensure future adequate water supply. He called for consistent and up-to-date management instead of the current Corps plan for the 35-year-old lake.

The audience was sparse but inquisitive. Jennifer Thompson from Gainesville was disappointed with the small turnout but said Collins was an excellent communicator.

"I'm embarrassed like other constituents who wanted more people here, but I think every congressman should be this accessible to his district," she said.

Ray Sigmon from Buford said he got the answers he wanted.

"I got answers that pretty much enlightened me to what's going on here," Sigmon said. "We've got some serious problems and it looks like we've got a start."

Collins holds his second town hall meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the North Georgia Community Center in Ellijay.
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