Looking over a full room at the Columbus Municipal Complex, Congressman Alan Nunnelee asked if the crowd thought their children would be better off here than they were.
Not a hand.
That, Nunnelee told the crowd at the town hall meeting, is why he ran for office: Because he was concerned for the welfare of future generations.
He then went on, in answer to audience questions, to attack President Obama”s health care plan, irresponsible federal spending and giving borrowed money to any foreign countries except Israel while in a financial crisis.
“We feel like we”ve been dropped behind enemy lines,” he said of himself and other freshmen representatives.
The previous Congress, he said, was an “abject failure” that played fast and loose with taxpayer dollars.
“The mess we”re in is not because we taxed too much,” he said. “It”s because we spend too much.”
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Nunnelee said he and his fellow committee members planned to look more closely at cutting down spending, especially on foreign governments.
“I don”t think it”s necessary to give billions of dollars to people who hate us,” he added. “They”ll hate us for free.”
When asked about the debt ceiling, Nunnelee said he would likely vote to raise the ceiling, but only if the Obama administration made key political concessions.
His response — that Congress was faced with a choice of having to raise the debt ceiling, cut Social Security benefits in half, or cut military spending — was met with criticism by some of the audience and disbelief by some others.
But Nunnelee, who took the oath of office Jan. 5, said he was still committed to lowering the national debt over time.
The debt issue is not going to be a quick fix, he continued. Democrats in the Senate are just biding their time and hoping the conservative Tea Party movement will lose steam, he said.
In the meantime, he said he would also focus on other, less partisan issues, like energy security.
Although there isn”t “one silver bullet” to solving the nation”s foreign-oil dependency, Nunnelee said he wanted to open the country to drilling in the Dakotas, Alaska and “anywhere else” there”s oil.
The Obama administration isn”t doing anything about high gas prices, according to Nunnelee, because its officials are driven by a “radical environmental agenda.”
Nunnelee said that the administration hopes rising gas prices will drive people away from using fossil fuels.
He concluded the town hall by promising more question-and-answer sessions here in the future.
“As long as I”m your hired hand, I”ll do that,” he said.