On the heels of President Barack Obama's stated support of gay marriage, Congressman Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, addressed the issue during a town-hall meeting Monday night at .
“I don’t like the secularism that’s occurring in this country one bit and I think it is incumbent upon those of us [that] stand strong, to stand very strong, in regard to that and say ‘look, Billy and I believe that marriage is a sacrament,’” Gingrey said. “I’m not ashamed to say that, and I won’t be ashamed to say that, and I hope our nominee on my side of the aisle will not back away from saying that and stand strongly.”
Gingrey, who is up for reelection this fall, said he will continue to “stand strong for Christian, conservative, moral values,” stating that what he perceived as the nation’s shift towards secularism was “probably the biggest fault” with the country.
He also said he was unsure how Obama’s recent comments in support of gay marriage would influence this November’s outcome.
“I have always felt, as a Roman Catholic, that marriage is one of our sacraments in my church, and possibly the most important,” he said. “But this is an election year, and sometimes, you play to a certain constituency, and the president certainly has the ability to do that, and we’ll see whether that’s to his advantage politically or not.”
But , the focus of the evening remained largely on unemployment numbers, job creation and the state of the economy.
“The unemployment numbers have not improved nearly as fast as we were promised when the 44th President of the United States was elected in 2008,” Gingrey said. “Three and a half years later, we’re still at eight percent plus.”
“Georgia has been hit as hard as any state in the country,” he said. “By any measure, any set of parameters, the stimulus did not work.”
Gingrey criticized several European countries for failing to adhere to austerity programs, stating that the fallout from recent political turnovers in France and Greece could have major repercussions on both this year’s presidential election and the United States economy.
Gingrey said most Americans are “sick and tired” of the continual gridlock in Congress. He said that of 28 “jobs-promoting" bills passed by the Republican-controlled House, 27 of them have stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“That’s why I guess our approval rating is 11 percent,” he said.
Gingrey, who serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, said he does not believe the United States has a sound energy policy.
“Whatever we’re doing in this country in regards to controlling the price at the pump is not working,” he said. He blamed a number of factors—from reduced oil exploration to “failed Green Energy” projects, such as Solyndra’s solar energy initiatives—for the government’s inability to surmount rising energy prices.
Gingrey said most people are unaware of the pull the Committee on Energy and Commerce has on many aspects of healthcare in the United States, stating that the Committee has jurisdiction over the entire “Part B” portion of Medicare law.
“All of Medicaid, Peachcare, the state’s children’s health insurance program,” he said. “It’s all under the authority and jurisdiction of the [Energy and Commerce] Committee, and I am on the Health Subcommittee, so we have been able to be very, very involved in health care.”
Gingrey said he was adamantly opposed to President Obama’s health care reform plan, stating he felt that proposed entitlement program was unnecessary.
“The thing that bothered me the most regarding money was $575 billion was taken out of the Medicare program, which according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare trustees [and] the actuaries for Medicare, says this program will be insolvent as early as 2016, and no later than 2024 at the most optimistic estimate,” he said.
Gingrey concluded his lecture by discussing the country’s surging national debt.
“When you have a budget deficit, red ink in any one year, that just adds to the debt,” he said. “Since Barack Obama has become president, we have added $5 trillion to the national debt, which is now approaching $16 trillion.”
Gingrey said that he wasn’t very optimistic that the budget cuts proposed to pay off last year’s debt ceiling levels will ever come to fruition.
“The borrowing always occurs,” he said. “The cuts, hardly ever, which is so frustrating to you and to me, and is why I voted against this.”
Gingrey said that from the presidency of George Washington up until the Ronald Reagan years, the nation had accumulated about $5 trillion in debt. “President Obama has done it in three and a half years,” he said.
Gingrey fielded several questions from the audience, on topics as diverse as proposed Internet monitoring legislation to the possibility of a “balanced budget” amendment to the Constitution.
Gingrey said he felt this year’s presidential election was perhaps the “most important” in his lifetime, and one that will be anchored around the nation’s ongoing economic woes.
“This election is about the economy,” he said. “The most important three things in this election are jobs, jobs and jobs.”