The crowd at the Thomson Depot on Tuesday evening expressed concern about government spending and the federal deficit.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., polled the audience of about 80 people, and 29 said the federal budget is their top concern. Ten said they are more concerned with jobs and the economy.
The 10th District Republican listened to applause and dissent, and invited questions, but left no question about his position.
"If you want big government," he said, "I'm not your man."
A second poll found 26 in the audience favored raising the federal debt ceiling, but with conditions. Another 16 opposed any increase in the national debt. Only two favored allowing the debt to increase without limits.
"This isn't about party," said the Athens physician, who first was elected in 2007.
"Both parties are guilty," he said. "It has to stop. If it doesn't, we're all gonna be broke."
Broun rejected the budget policies of President Obama, but didn't limit his criticism to the first-term Democrat. Broun said George W. Bush and other presidents allowed the deficit to grow.
"You see, we are getting the kind of government that the American people have demanded," he said.
He also criticized Obama and Bush about the undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Broun said most in Congress believe in larger government, in solving every problem from Washington.
He said most law schools do not teach the original intent of the Constitution.
"We have domestic enemies of the Constitution, and they're in both parties and they're sitting on federal benches," he said.
Constituents voiced concern over the economy, Social Security and other programs. Some had specific worries.
Joseph Fitts of Martinez, who is between teaching jobs, urged Broun to devote more money to education. He said more emphasis should be placed on social studies, so graduates are equipped to make the right choices.
He said the heavy emphasis on testing is "just scratching the surface" of education.
Broun told the audience that he calls the No Child Left Behind Law the No Teacher Left Unfettered Law.
"We have to get rid of those fetters," he said.
Washington, Ga., taxidermist Lloyd Johnson said more money needs to stay in the private sector and circulate in small towns.
"I have never been hired by someone who had no money," he said.
Broun repeated his call for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. He said unless spending is contained, Medicare will fail within 12 years and Social Security will be gone in 25 years.
"Your Obamacard is gonna be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the War Between the States," he said.
After the meeting, Broun, too, had his critics.
Bishop Herman Gilmore of Temple Prayer Ministry in Thomson said Broun's assessment of the economy was unfair to Obama.
"Bush got us into this mess, and Obama's trying to do the best he can," Gilmore said.
Ashley Morgan of Thomson said Broun's assertion that nine Supreme Court justices do not understand the intent of the Constitution is "a very bold and unfounded statement."
Thomson teacher Barbara Wilcher told Broun that more people need to be put to work. She said economic recovery would follow.
"We passed jobs bill after jobs bill in the House," Broun told her. "It's never gone anywhere in the Senate."
"He knows how to stand his ground," said Avis McGahee, of Dearing, who emphasized that she is the women's chair of the McDuffie County Farm Bureau.
Broun later said that he is accustomed to hearing differing points of view in his town meetings.
"I see that all the time," he said. "Some people like to think that the government has to be the whole solution to all problems. We've got to change that. The outrageous spending has to stop."