U.S. Rep Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) rubbed elbows during the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Roundtable hosted at the chamber’s offices.
Most of the business owners told Gingrey they had concerns about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to by many Republicans as “Obamacare.”
While Gingrey said the business owners’ concerns about what he characterized as the law’s overreach, he said he felt the reigning issue of the day is the state of the economy.
“What we are faced with in this election on Nov. 6 is all about the economy,” he said.
Beginning in 2013, Gingrey will represent all of Cherokee County because of reapportionment.
Chamber member Mandy Chapman of Roytech Industries said rising health care costs are the primary concerns of her and her business. Chapman said her costs have increased 33 percent.
“We are really nervous about what is going to happen in the next couple of years,” she added.
Larry Underkoffler with North Georgia Staffing added he felt the federal government continues to grow “so far out of control” with its size and scope.
However, Nathan Smith of New Horizon Home Services reminded Gingrey that many small business owners do not want handouts from the federal government.
“We just want to work,” he said, adding he hopes Gingrey will remain unafraid to speak his mind.
While some business owners expressed fears about the cost of the federal health care law that was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Steve Sandridge of Pied Piper Pest Control said access to health care is a concern for him.
Gingrey agreed, adding he is convinced that most Americans “don’t want the federal government to take over one-fifth of the economy.”
He also said many Americans are not open to the idea of allowing bureaucrats to make decisions between patients and doctors.
If nothing changes by 2012, “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
“That is what we will have to deal with,” he added.
Stan Zawisza of S&J Environmental Products said he believed the federal government is “losing the war on globalization.”
He noted the United States is not producing an educated workforce to be competitive in the global economy.
“We’ve got to come to terms with globalization,” he said. “It’s a fact.”
Gingrey, who noted he served one four-year term on the city of Marietta’s school board, said he agrees with the need to focus on improving the education of American children, particularly in the math and science fields.
Gingrey also promised the small business owners he would stand up against any plan to increase the debt ceiling in Congress. Gingrey added he would vote against any debt ceiling increase as long as there is no proposal from the government to create a balanced budget.
He also said he expects Congress will soon tackle tax reform, including a possible “flat” tax and a “reasonable” death tax.
Describing himself as a “hawk,” he didn’t shy away from saying the country needs to look at its defense budget.
“I believe in a strong national defense,” he said, adding he felt the budget could still withstand some cuts, but not to the tune of $600 billion.
For Jennifer Anglin, she said she is tired of the partisan bickering.
Anglin, of Alfa Insurance, said she feels the debate surrounding the health care law is missing the biggest point, which she said is the increased cost of actual health care. She said one procedure her husband received rose considerably and she also was forced to sign up for a $5,000 deductible for her health insurance plan.
She said she wants to see a compromise in Congress to address the problem of rising costs.
“The extremism is not working,” she said, referring to both Republicans and Democrats.