Meeting with residents who packed the Forsyth County Administration Building Wednesday night, U.S. Rep. Tom Graves said jobs and the economy are the top issues the government should be dealing with right now.
"That's where we should be putting all our time, all our emphasis," said Graves, who represents House District 9 that includes Hall County. "And how do we get jobs and the economy back on track? Get government out of the way. That's the only answer that's out there."
The Ranger Republican explained that solving the nation's financial crisis would take more than increasing taxes and would require making revenue and spending match.
"You can raise taxes as much as you want today and you'll never catch the spending line," he said. "It is rising too fast and taxes cannot catch it, so you've got to bring that line down. When you do that, you can bring the revenue line up without increasing taxes because of economic output, economic productivity."
He added that part of the reason the revenue line is down is because of the sluggish economy and the best way to improve revenue is through job creation. He said he also supports bringing companies back from overseas instead of increasing taxes on individuals.
Forsyth County resident Mark Andrews suggested kicking lobbyists out of Washington, D.C., and asked about the Fair Tax and why existing immigration laws are not being enforced.
Graves said he's a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax and that it will take time to explain to other constituencies what the proposal is. The Fair Tax plan is a comprehensive proposal that replaces all federal income and payroll based taxes with an integrated approach including a progressive national retail sales tax, according to its supporters' website.
"When you get that Fair Tax code - you get rid of 60,000 pages of income tax code and all the compliance costs that go with it and all the embedded taxes that go with it and the loopholes - you're going to get the economy moving again," Graves said.
He noted that he supports enforcing existing immigration laws and the protection of federal borders.
Bob Morrison, a local certified financial planner, said 10,000 bankers went to jail for fraud as a result of the savings and loan crisis of 1989 and questioned how the nation's most recent financial calamity has been handled.
"We had the AIG crisis, the Lehman Brothers crisis, we've had the mortgage tax security crisis ... The fraud this time is 100 times what it was in 1989 and not one banker has been even investigated," Morrison said.
Graves said while he doesn't serve on the financial services committee, he agreed the issue should be followed up on.
"That's something we can certainly ask about," Graves said. "Now you look at who's being held responsible or who's being constrained and it's the community bankers who had nothing to do with it."
Graves was limited in addressing another resident's question about what's being done in the nation's capital to keep Lake Lanier full.
He said the state's delegation is working very closely with the governor's office on the issue, but couldn't go into detail about it because of ongoing litigation.
"There is a great working relationship with everyone knowing the needs as well as the economic impact it has, the natural impact it has on everyone," he said. "It impacts the whole state of Georgia as well as (this) region of the United States, so it's a positive thing that I think is a very good working relationship between Republicans and Democrats to make sure there is a positive outcome."
Graves will hold meetings today in Lumpkin and Fannin counties.
For more information, visit www.tomgraves.house.gov.