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Posted: September 1, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Jim Marshall holds town hall meeting in Porterdale

U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Macon) visited the city of Porterdale Friday to hold a town hall meeting to field questions from concerned citizens. Marshall has been on a town hall meeting tour in the last couple of months as he seeks reelection in November.

He began the meeting explaining the critical nature of the current economic climate.

"When you hear that the economy is flat, then that lowers your confidence and lowered confidence becomes factored into the model," Marshall said. "It's this cycle that says it's going to get worse."

On the subject of rising cost-of-living and social security concerns, Marshall cited his record of cost-effectiveness and his role in Congress during the financial collapse. He voted in favor of TARP, and also stated that be believed the stimulus bill helped the country avoid falling further into depression.

One resident asked Marshall to elaborate his thoughts of the long-term consequences for the U.S. engaging in both the war and international aid to victims of the recent Pakistan flood.

"We're just not in the position to police the world," Marshall replied. "We got to have partners. We got to have people who are interested - they don't have to like us, they just need to have a reason to meet our strategic needs."

Marshall explained how providing Pakistan with aid relief has helped build relations with the country. He believes the relationship between the Pakistani army and the U.S. military is still on good terms, though the general populace still held grievances.

The congressman went on to say the primary objective in Afghanistan is to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban, not to execute a nation-building plan. However, he did feel that some infrastructure like roads would be beneficial to the security of the troops.

A question was asked if U.S. efforts in Afghanistan would have been less strenuous had the U.S. not been involved in the war with Iraq. Marshall said the war in Iraq certainly complicated the efforts in Afghanistan, but this is a situation our country had to deal with.

"A lot of people say that we should have concentrated in Afghanistan instead of Iraq," Marshall said. "But most of them are saying that for political reasons. It is what it is. We made the decisions that we made. It's water over the dam and we're not going to be able to get it back. So we are where we are and we just have got to live with it."

Marshall supported the surge in Iraq but felt that it would not have worked if the Sunni had not turned on the Taliban.

The subject eventually moved on to healthcare, as a fellow resident, who is a small business owner and physician, asked if any of the congressman's concerns with the controversial health care bill would ever see the light of day. Marshall was a one of the 39 Democratic "blue dogs" opponents of Health Care Reform passed earlier this year.

The congressman then handed out an op-ed article he had written for the National Review, in which he wrote about problems with the country's third-party payment system, which he said has caused health coverage prices to rise dramatically. Marshall believes the biggest issue with the current health care system is Medicare; the cost of which makes up a large chunk of the country's deficit. He expects the current system to eventually lead to bankruptcy.

"The real problem with the health care bill goes well beyond the speaker," Marshall said. "The president decided he wasn't going to follow the same mess Clinton got into. So instead of drafting a bill with a group of smart people to understand what's really wrong with the system and dropping it on the House and Senate, he laid out a set of principles and let the Congress take over."

"The problem with that is you've got senior committee members on both sides who have been there for a long time that are completely wed to the current system; it's all they know. And it's the current system that's fundamentally the problem with healthcare."

Asked about his views on illegal immigration, Marshall believes the root of the problem is with the employers who have created the market. He feels a tough law to fine and punish employers will slow, if not reverse, the flow of illegal immigration.


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