Debate shows Broun, Fleming on same page

Republican opponents for the 10th U.S. Congressional District agreed more than they differed during a Saturday debate at the Columbia County Library in Evans.

Incumbent Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, and state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, fielded questions from a group of panelists on gas, the Middle East, illegal immigration, medical school expansion, child predators and taxes.

Both said they are proponents of a "Fair Tax" amendment that would eliminate federal income taxes and abolish the Internal Revenue Service.

"I believe adopting the fair tax would be one of the biggest economic boons to this nation," Mr. Fleming said.

Such a national sales tax would force everyone to contribute to the system, he said.

Dr. Broun agreed, but said government needs to cap a sales tax to just 10 percent of the total purchase amount.

Perhaps the most contentious part of the evening was the candidates' differing stances on the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act. Mr. Fleming supported it while Dr. Broun voted against it.

Mr. Fleming said he would support any legislation that "cracks down" on child pornographers.

Though he said he believes in being tough on sex offenders, Dr. Broun called the SAFE Act a bad law that allows too much government intrusion into the private communications of residents and unfairly punishes Internet service providers.

The candidates for the July 15 primary agreed the U.S. should be prepared to do what is needed to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

"Iran having nuclear weapons is totally unacceptable," Dr. Broun said.

Mr. Fleming said the U.S. needs to stands by such democratic allies as Israel in that region.

"The last thing we need in this world is a nuclear Iran loose in the Middle East," he said.

Until Iraq is capable of standing on its own, Mr. Fleming said he supports keeping American troops in the region.

Without citing a source, Dr. Broun said Saturday he has been rated the No. 1 toughest federal lawmaker against illegal immigration. He said illegal immigrants are destroying the nation's health care and education systems. He proposes tighter security on the country's borders, ending birthright citizenship, and adopting English as the official language in the U.S.

Mr. Fleming agreed with sealing the borders and adopting English as the official language, and also with keeping illegal immigrants out of federal housing.

A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Broun said he would like to see Augusta become a "destination city" for medical care and research for civilians and military.

During the most recent session of the state Legislature, Mr. Fleming said he formed a committee to examine the state's medical school facilities and believes in expanding MCG and establishing satellite campuses in other Georgia cities.

To ease burdens at the gas pump, Mr. Fleming agrees with presidential candidate John McCain in temporarily suspending the federal gas tax, drilling for oil inside the U.S. and off the coasts of Florida and California and advocating nuclear power.

Dr. Broun agreed with Mr. Fleming's points, especially domestic drilling.

The candidates will have a final area debate July 7 on Comcast Connect Live on Comcast Channel 4.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.