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Woodall talks issues leading up to town hall
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Newton County residents had a chance to tell U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) exactly what they thought at a town hall meeting Tuesday night, and he said he's thrilled to hear it.

"I want folks to know the only reason I have this job is to take their phone calls," Woodall said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. "Having these town hall meetings and being out and about, sometimes folks are upset, sometimes they're happy, it's the same emotions we all have in each of our own families. So to be able to get that message from voters completely unfiltered (is great)."

Woodall said he's always skeptical of aggregate views from organizations. He wants to hear from individual teacher and seniors, not necessarily from the teachers unions or the AARP.

Woodall represents the 7th congressional district in Georgia, which contains northern Newton County, as well as all of Barrow and Walton, most of Gwinnett and a portion of Forysth counties. Newton was the only county that Woodall lost in November's election.

"Folks very much responded to the Democratic message in my part of Newton County," Woodall said. "That always makes the conversation interesting, because balance is important. Iron hardens steel. You want folks to come out and share opinions. You represent everybody; it doesn't matter whether they voted for you or not. I always look forward to being in Newton, because I know I'm going to hear some things I may not hear in other parts of the district."

The federal budget has been a dominant political topic recently, and Woodall is in the thick of the discussion as he serves on the house's budget committee. He said he was pleased with the fiscal year 2012 version the house approved, though he participated in a budget version that had more aggressive cuts.

While promises for long-term budget cuts are all well and good, Woodall said the budget that is passed each year is always a 10-year bill, so year one is the only year that can't be changed after a budget is approved. He said the house's version makes tough decisions about the most important items like Medicare and Medicaid.

As for Woodall's most passionate topic, the Fair Tax, he said the bill he reintroduced this year has more support than ever, garnering backing from 61 house members and six senators. The bill has never previously reached the floor for a vote, but Woodall said with all the discussion on the subject, this could be the year for a vote.

According to Woodall's website, "the Fair Tax would repeal all Federal corporate and individual income taxes, payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, capital gains taxes, the death tax and gift taxes - and replace them with a revenue-neutral personal consumption tax."

He said if the bill is going to ever be signed into law it's going to need a president willing to make overhauling tax reform a crucial issue. Presidential candidates Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Mike Gravel supported the Fair Tax in the previous election.

"I'd like to have a vote on it even if it loses. So many people like to hide in politics, pay something great lip service. I want to see a vote on it so we'll know who the pretenders are and who the serious folks are who are willing to speak out," Woodall said. "If you want a jobs proposal, the Fair Tax is the biggest job proposal we have on Capitol Hill."

Coverage of the town hall will be in Friday's Covington News.