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Callahan speaks at town hall meeting

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
U.S. Congressman Sonny Callahan was upbeat Monday as he talked about the new attitude in Washington, D.C.
Callahan held a town hall meeting Monday morning at Poarch. It was an early meeting – 8 a.m. – and the turnout was relatively small. Only 50 people attended.
Jo Bonner, Callahan's Washington chief of staff, said it was a typical crowd on this circuit of town hall meetings.
Bonner said the small number is indicative of people's attitudes. Smaller numbers usually indicate that people are satisfied with the way things are going. A larger number of people usually means that people have problems with the way government is being run.
Callahan touched on a number of issues.
On inheritance tax, Callahan said he feels that legislation will be successful in some form.
He also expects changes in the marriage tax. In a lighter moment, he said, "If there were not a reporter in the room, I'd say, It's taxing enough.' We're penalizing people for being married. It's wrong and we're going to correct it."
Fielding a question on prescription drugs, Callahan said the president is expected to send legislation to Congress in the next 30 or 40 days.
Callahan spent much of the meeting talking about the economy.
Social Security is solvent through the year 2040, making it more solvent now than it has ever been, Callahan said.
About the recents ups and downs of the stock market, he said, "The stock market has nothing to do with the economy … There is nothing wrong with our economy except consumer confidence. The stock market is correcting itself. That's all …
Callahan does expect President Bush and the Congress to shore up the national defense.
Poarch Creek Tribal Chairman Fred Lee McGhee asked Callahan if the tribe could expect any cuts coming out of Washington.
Callahan said that he does not expect any cuts to entitlement programs, although he has not seen the president's budget in detail.
Turning his attention to the tribe, the congressman said, "I'm very proud of this tribe here. This is the epitome of what a tribe should be … You're a model for the nation."