By Jason A. Smith
With Election Day 2008 looming on the horizon, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) came to Henry County Wednesday to visit with supporters and continue getting his message out to the public.
Chambliss made a stop on The Square in McDonough, as part of a 12-day bus tour in his campaign to return to U.S. Senate. He will face Democrat Jim Martin in the Nov. 4 election.
More than 50 people braved the chilly weather to hear Chambliss speak, regarding the economy, and differences between him and his opponent. Chambliss told the attendees a growing "separation" exists in terms of the level of support the two candidates have among voters. "People are starting to make up their minds, if they hadn't before, about who they are going to vote for," he said. "Our numbers are moving in the right direction."
Chambliss noted recent ads released by the Martin campaign, which the senator said have been "misleading, and frankly false."
"[Martin] says we want to increase the sales tax to 23 percent, and that's just not true," said the GOP candidate. "We do want to put a national sales tax in place to replace the current income tax. What that means is, we would eliminate all income tax, Medicare tax and Social Security taxes."
According to the U.S. Senator, such a measure would result in people having "more money in their pockets with every single paycheck, thereby allowing them to control their own spending. Chambliss said he has "never voted for a tax increase," and will not do so if re-elected for another term.
He said Martin has "mischaracterized" the senator's views regarding the federal government's recent bailout of the banking industry. Chambliss said the purpose of approving the $700 billion proposal is to "provide liquidity" to banks, in an effort to ease credit woes in the country.
"Banks simply aren't able to borrow from other banks or the [Federal Reserve]," he continued. "If we don't do something, then banks are not going to have money to loan to people."
Chambliss said the country's financial state affects all Americans regardless of their background. "We're in a financial crisis like we have not seen in most of our lifetimes," he said. "It's a very serious situation, and it's not just a situation involving Wall Street, big banks or small banks. This is a global financial crisis."
Chambliss said he and other leaders in the Senate are working on a package to alleviate the current strain on the nation and the rest of the world. According to him, the plan will make the economy of the U.S., Georgia and Henry County stronger.
Another topic which drew positive responses from the pro-Chambliss crowd, is that of energy. The incumbent said recent drops in gas prices do not diminish the need for the country to work toward energy independence.
"This issue is not going away," said Chambliss. "One major difference between my opponent and me, is that he does not believe in drilling off-shore, or more drilling domestically. I am absolutely committed to drilling off the Outer Continental Shelf, and drilling everywhere, in an environmentally-sensitive way, that we can drill."
The Republican also addressed what he sees as a need to give full support to the efforts of the U.S. Armed Forces. Chambliss offered sharp criticism for a Democratic plan put forth earlier this month by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) regarding the country's military strength.
"He said if a Democrat is elected president and we have a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, the first thing they're going to do is cut the defense budget by 25 percent," said Chambliss, adding that the money would go toward social programs. "As long as I am a member of the United States Senate, it will be over my dead body."
William Woodall, chairman of the Chambliss campaign in Henry County, said the senator's support in the area is "strong," adding that the bus tour will also make stops in other parts of the district to generate further backing before the election.
"The bottom line is, whose policy is better?" he said. "Is it about raising taxes, more programs and more spending, or is it about reducing taxes and reining government in? Martin has proven in the legislature and through his work in the Department of Community Health, that he's not going to lower our taxes or cut spending. I'd rather keep my money to help this economy grow stronger, and I think Chambliss believes that as well."