Senator Chambliss makes rounds in Morgan County
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
United States Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) made a whistle stop in Madison last week, dropping by the home of Wilson and Patricia DuBose to chat with constituents for an hour or so.
Chambliss is up for re-election in Georgia this fall against an as-yet undetermined Democrat opponent. Chambliss served four terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives (Georgia's 8th Congressional District) before winning his seat as a Senator in 2002.
Nearly 50 local residents came to hear Chambliss speak.
“True to it's party reputation, Madison turned out—even at 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon,” said Wilson DuBose in his introduction of Senator Chambliss.
“Madison must be shut down,” joked Chambliss.
In remarks over approximately 30 minutes, Chambliss touched on a number of issues important to local voters, first pointing out that history is being made during this election season.
“This is the first time in the history of our great country...that we have three sitting members of Congress running for President,” he said. “We know that one of our [Senate] colleagues is going to be the next President.”
Chambliss talked about the new Farm Bill (more formally known as the Food, Conservation, and Enegry Act of 2008) which just passed into law in May.
“One out of every six jobs in Georgia is directly related to agriculture,” said Chambliss. “Farm bills—and particularly this one—are vitally important to you.”
The five-year, $300-billion-plus Farm Bill includes monies for, among many other things, the nation's food stamp program.
“Now why does a conservative Republican get excited about food stamps?” asked Chambliss. “One out of 10 people in Georgia is a recipient of food stamps. And when those citizens use their food stamps to purchase approved foods like cereal, milk...farmers benefit.”
Chambliss said that prior to his running for national office, waste, fraud, and abuse in the food stamp program was estimated to be account for 25-27 percent of the cost of the program. But after working to overhaul the system, said Chambliss, in January of 2006 those numbers were down to less than five percent of the program.
Chambliss said that he has also been a supporter of a program that will allow school lunch programs to buy local fruits and vegetables to be served in local schools.
Another part of the Farm Bill that Chambliss mentioned was the Energy Title, in which Chambliss said the federal government will work to incentivize the manufacture of alternative fuels such as ethanol, particularly ethanol that is not corn-based.
“Corn costs $6 a bushel right now, corn that's normally $3 a bushel,” said Chambliss. “That's a direct result of corn going to [ethanol-producing facilities].”
“We don't grow corn in the southeast in the quantities that they do in the Midwest,” said Chambliss. “But there's one thing that we grow that they can't, and that's pine trees.” He said that “cellulosic-based” ethanol—from pine trees—is currently being produced in a Soperton, Georgia, plant.
“It's an amazing process,” said Chambliss.
The senator also affirmed his support for drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northern Alaska.
“Why...are Democrats against drilling?” asked a member of the audience Thursday.
“We have fought hard to prevail on the right to drill in ANWR,” said Chambliss. “The entire ANWR region...is the size of South Carolina. The portion that we want [to drill in] is the size of a golf course...the drilling would go on for a good many years. But when we leave, and pull that equipment out of the ground, no one will ever know we've been there,” said Chambliss.
After taking further questions from constituents on globalization, China and Cuba, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, and the Clean Water Act, the senator closed with a few comments on universal health care.
“We have got a real problem, and a runaway [healthcare] system, from a financial perspective,” said Chambliss. “The federal government has got to have a role in health care, but we don't have to dominate.”