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Kingston Offers Legislative Update at HunterMaclean Forum; Predicts No Reduction in Local Troops

Savannah Business Journal Special Report

Nov 14, 2011 - Congressman Jack Kingston, U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, said he believes the federal government needs to focus, first and foremost, on fiscal responsibility at a forum Monday morning in Savannah hosted by HunterMaclean.

“For every dollar we spend, 40 cents is borrowed,” he told an audience of approximately 100 local business leaders at HunterMaclean’s Critical Issues Forum at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto. “We have a lot of work to do. The stakes are very high for the United States of America right now.”

Kingston considers getting Americans back to work, expanding domestic oil production and advocating tax reform to be on the top list of initiatives he supports in Washington, D.C. “Tax reform will help create jobs,” he said. “The top 10 percent currently pays 40 of the income taxes. That’s not good or healthy for the system. Everyone needs to have some skin in the game.”

He said he supports tax credits for business depreciation for small businesses, repealing the 3 percent withholding tax portion of President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation and providing up to $5,600 in tax credits to companies hiring veterans.

The Republican Congressman also addressed several Georgia issues, acknowledging that community banks are struggling across Georgia, which is putting a serious strain on small businesses around the Peach State. “I represent lots of small towns, and I can tell you that community banks are more important than City Hall,” he said. “They’re having difficulty lending money to their customers, and that is really hurting business.”

He also criticized big-government regulation, particularly the Dodd-Frank Act, a federal law enacted in July 2010 which implemented financial regulatory processes enforcing transparency and accountability while implementing rules for consumer protection. “Dodd-Frank is one of the biggest problems,” he said. “We need to back off on some of these regulations.”

Kingston expressed optimism about federal support for the deepening of the Savannah Harbor, saying he considers the fact that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation was scheduled to visit Savannah this week to be an encouraging sign. “I am very positive about it, but I don’t know the timeframe,” he explained. “We are working like the dickens to get it on the federal budget.”

Known for his strong support of the military, Kingston reported that he is committed to ongoing reductions of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “I’m tired of writing sympathy notes to widows and wives and going to memorial services for soldiers,” he confessed, adding that he is an advocate of cross-training on military bases in coastal Georgia.

But, he also made clear that he is “looking for other missions” for the active duty personnel in the area. In an interview after the forum, Kingston said that he believes that the changing face of the military will result in bases being closed in other states, and troops moved to Hunter and Ft. Stewart. Therefore, even though there will be reduction in forces, including with the traditional missions of the 3rd ID headquartered at Ft. Stewart, the Savannah area will not see a reduction in military personnel living in the area.

A member of the House Appropriations Committee, Kingston serves on the Defense Subcommittee, which oversees military-based funding, and is the chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee, which oversees agriculture-related funding. He was recently appointed to serve on the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee. Repeatedly named a “Taxpayer’s Hero” and “Guardian of Small Business,” he has been honored with the Watchdog of the Treasury Award and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award.

Attorney Brooks Stillwell, a partner at HunterMaclean, praised Kingston’s commitment to supporting issues that affect local companies. “Jack has been known as a fierce defender of economic opportunity,” he said. “He’s a recognized leader on budget and economic issues. He has a world of experience at building relationships and getting the job done.”

Ultimately, Kingston encouraged Savannah’s business leaders to pay attention to the issues at hand and to get involved.

“The stakes are very high,” he told the audience. “We all need to be engaged.”

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