MOULTRIE -- Congressman Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, visited Moultrie Thursday -- the hinterlands of his new district.
Part of Moultrie and Colquitt County are now in District 1, which now extends "from my driveway to Saxby (Chambliss') driveway," Kingston said. The redrawing of district lines became a sore subject when Republicans accused Democrats of tailoring districts to gain more control.
So far nobody has announced to run against Kingston -- a colorful, four-term, fiscally-conservative statesman.
Kingston visited Moultrie Thursday to discuss issues with the people he'll represent should he win reelection in November.
He's been talking with senior groups about protecting retirement and Social Security and lowering prescription medicine costs. Kingston advocates buying prescriptions internationally over the Internet. He says his mother does it and saves $1,000 a year on one prescription alone.
Kingston sponsored a past bill that supports re-importation. A new version of that bill may be introduced next week in the House, he said. Re-importation would allow people to buy medicines on the Internet from Canada and other countries, he said.
"It's just been an issue we've worked on for a long time," he said.
The congressman also thinks that prescription drug patents may need to be shortened. Right now, an average patent is held for 17 years, he said.
"I think the government has a right to do that, because it sanctions the patents and we do a lot of the basic research on illnesses," he said. "I think we need to look at what constitutes the right for a new patent."
Education is big to Kingston. He advocates channeling local dollars to schools enabling greater flexibility in funding their needs, and bringing back discipline in school, including corporal punishment.
"I think we should have a dialogue about it and not be afraid to discuss it. I went to public schools in Clarke County, and I was spanked my fair share, and it did not damage me psychologically or physically. I think we should talk about it," he said.
More local flexibility could lead to more creative solutions to local needs, he said, holding up Brantley County as an example. Brantley County is eliminating middle schools and going back to junior high schools for grades seven through nine.
"If that works for them in Brantley County, great. It might not work in Colquitt County, but you should be able to make that decision what's best for Colquitt County as they should be able to make decisions for Brantley County," he said.
Kingston also pointed out a survey that suggests that children perform better academically and behave more if they are separated by gender.
"To me, in the name of discipline, you should be able to make some of those decisions locally," he said.
Kingston, who sits on the House appropriations committee, advocated a bipartisan, bicameral effort to look at increased national spending due in part to the war.
Congress should reign in a lot of spending now, he said, because increased military and domestic security spending creates a ripple effect that leads to increases in non-terrorist and non-defense spending.
Regarding Bush's move to raise the national debt limit by $750 billion to $6.7 trillion, Kingston said, "If we're going to do that for the war on terrorism, we should also look at cutting out the pork any way we can and move us back to paying down the debt. We've paid off $253 billion in debt, and we need to get back on that. Our budget does move us in that direction, but we're still right now in the red, and we've got to get back in the black."
Agriculture is another big concern of the Savannah man. He supported the farm bill, which has a provision allowing certain non-nationals food stamps.
He advocates programs that aid and educate farmworkers but was unaware that Bush's 2003 budget discontinues funding the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), which financially assists migrant and seasonal farmworkers. NFJP is the primary funding source of Telamon Corporation, and the budget cuts will slash the t
hroat of its Georgia operations, the group's executive director told The Observer in April.
Unlike Bush, Kingston is not in favor of fell-swoop amnesty for illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to have immediate amnesty and "jump in line in front of those who have been waiting years to become American citizens," he said.
In the last two years, Kingston was named a "Taxpayer's Hero" by the Citizens Against Government Waste, received by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Spirit of Free Enterprise Award," named a "Friend of the Farmer" by the Georgia Farm Bureau and designated as "Senior Friendly" by the 60-Plus Association.