On Aug 13, 2013 the Rutherford County Tea Party and 9/12 chapter hosted their monthly "Conservative Conversation and Cocktails" (aka 3C's) meeting. Their featured speaker was US Congressman Scott DesJarlais from Tennessee's 4th Congressional District.
Around 200 people showed up to hear the Congressman speak and to participate in a Q & A session with him. Of the 200 attendees, roughly half came out to press the Congressman on his views on immigration. Although the room was deeply divided on this issue, people were very courteous to each other and the Congressman was able to answer a number of questions on a wide range of topics.
Below is the list of questions and his answers. For full disclosure, these are not direct quotes, but are based on the notes I took during the Q&A session. I've done my best to accurately relay the spirit of the questions and his answers, but there may be differences between this and any full transcript/recording of the night.
Q 1. Why can't we de-fund Obamacare?
A 1. I would like to de-fund Obamacare, however there are a series of obstacles and due to the language and complexity of the law it isn't as simple as just "de-funding" it. On top of that, there is the Senate. Unless it can pass the Senate, constant votes in the House to de-fund it aren't going to work.
Q 2. If Obamacare was such a great thing, why are the unions and congress trying to opt out of it?
A 2. Simple, Obamacare isn't a great thing. I'm actually in favor of ending all "special" congressional benefits and lifetime pensions.
Q 3. Where do you stand on the internet sales tax, aka the Marketplace Fairness Act?
A 4. I would vote against it, I think it's a bad idea.
Q 5. Where does Obama get the authority to delay any law which was passed by Congress?
A 5. The short answer is, he has no authority to do so. The President has run roughshod over the Constitution with endless executive orders but frankly, many in Congress support that kind of action which is how he gets away with it.
Q 6. Why is that non-citizens, who want to contribute and join the military, aren't allowed to simply because they don't have documentation? What about all of the families that want to stay together?
A 6. America was founded by immigrants and we have a rich history of positive immigration. I applaud anyone who wants to come here and serve in our military and contribute to our country. However, they need to follow the rule of law. Millions of people came here, stood in line and earned their citizenship; that kind of behavior should be rewarded. In the end, we need to enforce the laws already on the books.
Q 7. Why aren't veterans allowed to use medical marijuana for disabilities the government admits that we have?
A 7. First, let's all thank this man for his service. Marijuana has been available for cancer patients for years. Recently we've looked at the effects the war in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on our troops. The suicide rate is horrible. As a doctor, all I can go on are the studies and I don't have all of the information required to say it should be legal for other things. You can always move to another state, like Colorado, where it's legal.
Q 8. There is a lot of talk about ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, this could put an end to the 30-year mortgage and hurt a lot of people. What are your thoughts on this?
A 8. The housing crisis was caused by too much government interference in the marketplace. Fannie and Freddie were too big and their responsibilities should be left up to the private sector. Anytime we can get government out of the way and turn things over to the private sector, I think that's a good thing.
Q 9. What would you do to help "Dreamer's", like myself, to stay in America and continue earning our education? (the lady was referring to the DREAM Act)
A 9. Again, I think it's wonderful that people want to come here and get an education. However, you should not be allowed to jump in front of the line and people need to follow the laws we have.
Q 10. Why do you deny climate change? 97% of scientists agree that it is real and that carbon emissions are harming the planet.
A 10. There are just as many studies showing different results. What specifically would you like to see us do?
Q - I would like to see us cut carbon emissions and produce more wind and solar power.
A - I think renewable sources of energy are great, however we do not need to have tax payer subsides for them. And if you're suggesting Cap & Trade, I'm completely opposed to that.
Q 11. Where do you stand on auditing the Federal Reserve?
A 11. I think the system we have now punishes success. We need to get the government out of the way and allow businesses and individuals to thrive.
Q 12. Are you open to immigration reform?
A 12. We need to avoid falling into the same trap as with Obamacare. We don't need 2,000 page bills that no one can understand or knows what's in it. First, we need to secure the border and enforce the laws we already have. Then, if we need to make small, specific reforms to make the process simpler, then we can deal with that. But first, we need to follow the laws we already have.
Q 13. Most Americans support universal background checks. The gun-show loophole is a dangerous thing and needs to be addressed. Where do you stand on this?
A 13. I am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment. It is easy to have a knee-jerk reaction after a tragedy like Sandy Hook. Places like Chicago and DC have some of the strictest gun laws in the country and they also have the highest number of crimes. More laws aren't going to prevent someone intent on doing harm from going out and hurting people. We need to allow individuals and families to be armed so that they can defend themselves from those who would do them harm.
Q 14. What can kids do to help keep their daddies (who aren't documented) with them? (this was asked by a young girl)
A 14. First, I want to thank everyone who's come up here to ask questions. It's a big crowed and I know it can be intimidating. But really, my answer is the same. Everyone needs to follow the laws already on the books.
Q 15. Where do you stand on Common Core and what can Congress do about it?
A 15. This is largely a state issue and no state is being forced to approve Common Core. The government always follows the "one size fits all" policy and if you look at the $1 trillion the Dept. of Education has spent and you look at the test scores over the years, the Dept. of Education has failed. We don't need to be mandating anything to the states on a federal level when it comes to education.
Q 16. Could you give us an update on Benghazi?
A 16. We are continuing all of the investigations. The administration has been trying to mislead the public and hide the truth so we have had difficulties getting all of the answers we've sought. This, the IRS scandal, and the other "phony scandals" are important and we're going to keep investigating.
The Q&A session lasted about an hour and I feel that Congressman DesJarlais did a fine job answering most of the questions. He didn't directly answer the Audit the Fed question and I really wish he had.
Afterward, the "protesters" left and everyone else broke off into private conversation. If you haven't attended a 3C's I strongly urge you to. They're a great place to meet new people, to find out how to become involved in local and state issues, and in the case of town halls, make your voice heard.