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Friday, October 15, 2010 - 7:26am

Seniors Question Deal and Barnes

Georgia’s candidates for governor took questions on issues important to seniors in a ‘town hall’ phone conference with members of the AARP.

The hour-long phone forum had participation from all three candidates for governor: Democrat Roy Barnes, Libertarian John Monds, and Republican Nathan Deal.

Topics brought up by some of the group’s 16,000 members listening included: Fixed income and cost-of-living increases; would candidates oppose a potential tax reform council recommendation for a tax on groceries; concerns over how the state’s residents would be impacted by federal health care mandates.

Healthcare drew a handful of questions for the candidates. All three said they favor being able to buy health insurance across state lines.

But Nathan Deal offered a point of caution about mandates:

“Those mandates, many of which are very good and very necessary, they do drive up the cost. So we have to be careful that we don’t put our domestic insurance companies at a competitive disadvantage in that regard.”

A question on the amendment before voters to fund a trauma care system with a car tag fee was brought up. Candidates were asked what they would do as governor if it did not pass.

Democrat Roy Barnes said that while he’s generally been against dedicated funding structures in the past, he does now support the amendment to create specific trauma funding. He says he changed his mind after his daughter and two of his grandchildren were injured in a car accident almost a week ago:

“However, if it does not pass, the state has a responsibility to create a trauma network. And the state has to make it a part of its overall healthcare system.”

The three candidates were also asked about potential proposals to be offered by the tax reform commission. One is a plan to levy a 4-percent tax on groceries. Both Deal and Barnes said they would oppose such a tax. Libertarian John Monds said he would want to examine that proposal further, but any grocery tax should exempt fresh, unprocessed foods.

Monds in general for the hour, used his answers to try to push voters for a third alternative choice to the two major party candidates for governor:

“It’s up to the voting populace out there that if you see that what has been proposed, what has been done for decades now is not working, it’s not bringing the results you want, you need to go in a new direction…a better direction.”

Voters go to the polls in less than three weeks to elect a new governor, among other state, local, and federal races.

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