Ga. congressmen to face constituents this week after voting no on debt deal

Several Georgia congressmen are set to face their constituents for the first time this week after voting no on a controversial debt-ceiling deal and then watching as one of the nation’s top credit ratings slipped a notch.

Republican Rep. Paul Brounof Athens has announced he will hold a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Plaza Arts Center in Eatonton. He voted against Congress’s plan to reduce spending and increase the federal borrowing limit.

"We need to start doing the hard work of cutting the scope of government,” he said last week. “I cannot vote to raise the debt ceiling at all. I think it's wrong to make your children have to pay debt that they cannot afford to pay.

Republican Rep. Tom Gravesof Ranger, who also opposed the debt compromise, is scheduled to host a town hall meeting at 2:30 p.m. Monday in Catoosa County at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He is set to hold a second town hall meeting at the Dalton Freight Depot in Whitfield County Tuesday at 6 p.m.

In a posting on his Facebook page Saturday, Graves said he was not surprised Standard & Poor's lowered the nation’s credit rating for the first time, bringing it one notch below AAA.

The ratings agency said “political brinksmanship” in the congressional debate over the nation’s debt “highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable.” Observers have warned the downgrade in the nation’s credit rating could make it more expensive for the government to borrow money, costing taxpayers more.

“With over $14 trillion in debt and no long term strategy for debt reduction, the S&P downgrade is not a surprise,” Graves said.

Graves said the House Republican “cut, cap and balance” plan “remains the only plan available that solves our debt crisis… The president and congress must find the will to make the tough decisions necessary to get our fiscal house in order.”

Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta, who also opposed the debt ceiling compromise, is preparing to host a forum on voting rights Monday, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He issued a statement last week, saying he voted against the deal partly because of how it will affect the needy.

“This bill will bring a bitter harvest to millions of Americans who are already falling into debt, foreclosure and poverty,” he said. “All in all, the price of this bill is too high. It asks too much of those who are left with almost nothing to give, and it requires the least of those who have the most surplus. In the end, I decided that is not right. That is not fair. That is not just. I could not in good conscience vote for this bill."

Republican Reps. Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, Austin Scottand Lynn Westmoreland also voted no. Fellow GOP Reps. Tom Priceand Rob Woodall voted yes. Democratic Reps. John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson and David Scott voted yes. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson voted yes. Fellow Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted no.

A recent New York Times/CBS News poll shows 82 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job, the most since The Times first began asking the question in 1977. More than four out of five people polled said the recent debate over the nation’s debt was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country, The Times reported. And nearly three-quarters said the debate had harmed the image of the United States in the world.