By Toni Lepeska
A friendly crowd questioned U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee about spending, taxes, sequestration, the tax code and health care at a Thursday night town hall meeting.
Held at the Olive Branch Municipal Courthouse, the meeting attracted people from all over the region. It was a standing-room-only event to hear the Republican who represents the First District of Mississippi in Washington.
David Taylor, manager of the Olive Branch airport, was one of the first to address the congressman. Taylor asked for his support as the control tower at the busiest airport in Mississippi goes under the sequestration knife.
That led Nunnelee to criticize the way federal departments handled sequestration, or automatic spending cuts, with no long-term planning, he said.
Nunnelee contrasted the Republican-controlled House spending plans, "a balanced budget," passed before the congressional spring vacation, with the Democrat-controlled budget that he said raises spending by $1.5 trillion.
A local Realtor urged the congressman to support keeping the mortgage interest deduction, to which Nunnelee said he did, and the charitable deduction, too. Nunnelee expressed a desire for comprehensive tax reform.
"Our tax code is far too complex," he said. "We're right here in the middle of tax season. Men and women are spending far too many hours trying to complete their taxes."
Paula Stephenson of Southaven asked why Congress keeps giving millions of dollars in foreign aid to countries like Egypt and Pakistan.
"It does not make sense to me that we give money to people who hate us," Nunnelee said. "They'll hate us for free."
Asked about a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, Nunnelee said he believed the American people spoke on that issue in re-electing President Barack Obama. However, Nunnelee said the House will keep chipping away at provisions, in part by not funding them.
"We're going to continue to work for ways to weaken that plan," Nunnelee said. "It's a house of cards. It cannot stand under its own weight."