Westmoreland ducks question on onion-odor illnesses

Tue, 04/10/2007 - 4:14pm
By: Ben Nelms

The meeting room at the Fayette County Commission was full April 3 as Congressman Lynn Westmoreland fielded questions and comments during a scheduled town hall meeting.

Topics at the meeting ranged from Iraq to immigration and the Fair Tax to Darfur. Amid the many questions and comments by Fayette residents, there was one comment in particular that had purely local significance. Notably, it was the only question or comment for which Westmoreland gave no response.

Sitting near the back of the room with hand raised during the entire meeting was South Fulton/Fayette Community Task Force Chairman Connie Biemiller.

When recognized at the end of the meeting, Biemiller made her request. Representing more than 700 residents of both counties that suffered illnesses in 2006 from what they claim were emissions from the Philip Services Corp. waste treatment plant on Ga. Highway 92 in south Fulton County, Biemiller said the task force was aware that Congress would be holding hearings on the inadequacies of federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and wanted Westmoreland to stand with local citizens with regard to how EPA had failed them.

Biemiller said that many Fayette and Fulton residents might not be sick today if EPA had responded and worked to protect the health and welfare of these communities.

At the end of her statement, Westmoreland stood silent for a moment, then ended the meeting, turning to speak with others near the front of the room. It was the only question or comment posed by constituents during the town hall meeting for which he offered no comment.

“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue,” Biemiller said later, noting that several people approached her at meeting’s end to express concern for the illnesses of so many and to apologize for Westmoreland’s behavior.

“This is about real people and real harm and it is time for Congressman Westmoreland to make a public stand for what is right,” Biemiller said. “I really fear not only for our community but the other communities that he represents because this is not a man who is willing to serve for a higher purpose, but one that serves for his own welfare and benefit. Our task force has met with his staff via phone and in person to make him aware of the dangers to the people he represents and yet he will not defend us. He has a real opportunity and is in a position of power to make a positive impact but that would mean he would have to step out of his comfort zone. We are all called at different points in our lives to step out of our comfort zones.”

Earlier in the meeting, Westmoreland had opened the discussion with his thoughts on the situation in Iraq. He referenced a recent trip there, reiterating his support for American forces on the ground.

“Going to Iraq was a life-changing experience. Those guys became my heroes,” he said. “Those men and women are putting their lives on the line every day.”

Westmoreland complimented the Iraqis for taking the steps necessary to form a government, but had strong words for those bent on destroying that fragile government and killing American soldiers.

“They don’t just hate us, they hate our way of life,” Westmoreland said, comparing the religious practices in the United States to the adherents of Islam that call for the destruction of the West. “As for us, we don’t take RPGs to other churches and shoot out their windows.”

Westmoreland likened a premature pull-out in Iraq to the debacles in Vietnam, Somalia and the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon.

“We’re going to show this world that we’re willing to stick by our friends,” Westmoreland said emphatically.

Also in the forefront was illegal immigration. Referencing his stand for strong borders, Westmoreland was asked about his views on amnesty and other issues.

“We don’t know how many people are here. Reagan gave amnesty in the ‘80s, but we’ve got to come up with a program to identify those who are here today,” Westmoreland said. “Until we secure our borders and until we know how many how many people are here we can’t address the problem. This didn’t just happen. It’s been going on a long, long time. We need to seal the north and south borders, then take a census of those who are here to find out who they are so we’ll know what we’re dealing with and how to deal with it.”

Others at the meeting surfaced questions and concerns about the Fair Tax, with several speaking in favor of transitioning to what they believed to be a more equitable method of taxation.

“We don’t think it would pass, but we couldn’t convince the leadership to have a vote,” Westmoreland said. “We’re on a withholding system. The Fair Tax would be pay as you go. Some have a fear of how it would affect them, so we need to educate people.”

Responding to questions on the lack of effectiveness of Congress and the outlook for the future, Westmoreland said the efforts of individuals across America are required to make Congress accountable and responsive to the people.

“It’s going to take people to make the real change,” he said. “We are a self-governing nation. If the people aren’t involved in the process it’ll be broken. Without 218 votes all you’ve got is a good idea.”

Fayette residents were at no loss for surfacing other concerns. Some of those included the line item veto, the victimization resulting from identity theft and the status of the healthcare system.

Also at the meeting, three students asked Westmoreland about his stance on the genocide in Darfur and why his voting record indicated he was against providing aid for the region. Westmoreland said the United States had attempted to work with a weak United Nations to help resolve the issue, noting that the United States cannot right all the wrongs in the world.

“We look at the facts and the funding of the United Nations and the countries that vote against,” Westmoreland said. “If you look at my voting record, I vote to have the U.N. make countries more accountable.”

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Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 5:07pm.

This guy (Westmoreland) doesn't want anyone to check on industry in order to try amd prevent accidents. It is his theory that industry will police themselves as necessary.
The worst he hopes will happen as far as a law is that it will be local only. He knows that local people will not shut down a factory that is providing local jobs, not if they want to get re-elected.
Dumb stuff.

Submitted by chugalugalug on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 3:24pm.

We here in Texas have a state sales tax and it has resulted in NONE! of the dire predictions some have foreseen. There has been no scandal, corruption, or cheating in relation to it. It has funded our state government SPLENDIDLY! We Texans, tourists, illegal aliens, criminals, etc. are all in INSTANT COMPLIANCE!! every time we go through the "cash-register-check-out-line". Virtually no one escapes paying. If it works for Texas it will work for the nation.

THINK ABOUT IT MORE...................................................

Read and Enjoy..................................................

APRIL 15TH????? Let's make it just another Spring day.

HR 25, the Fair Tax Act, is in the House Ways and Means Committee of
congress, waiting to be passed into law. If passed, the Income Tax &
IRS would be abolished and replaced with a national (retail only) sales

Everyone shoud go to: www.congress.org and tell their congressmen that
they want HR 25 passed into law ASAP!!!! If we all "push together", we
can make it happen. There's nothing to it, BUT TO DO IT!!!!!!

Read and Enjoy.

The FINAL SOLUTION!! for the IRS & Income Tax Problem

50 Reasons I Support the FairTax
(How many reasons can you give for supporting the present obsolete IRS
& income tax system?)

Those Who Know the Facts Love the Fair Tax
"Family Friendly Tax Reform"
Tax Reform with far less pain and much more gain!
Out with the Old Code and in with the New (national RETAIL ONLY sales


1. It allows you to keep 100% of your paycheck, with nothing withheld
for Social Security and Medicare payments.
2. It eliminates the regressive payroll tax that hurts the poor.
Currently, every one of us is taxed a minimum of 7.65% on our first-dollar of
wages up to $90,000, if we earn that much.
3. It assures that the wealthiest Americans will be voluntarily helping
to fund social security with every last dollar they spend above the
poverty level. Today, earnings are subject to payroll taxes only up to
$90,000. The wealthiest Americans therefore do not pay into the system
above that amount. If their earnings are from investments, no earnings
fund the Social Security system. Under the FairTax, a single purchase
(regardless of the source of the earnings) can result in greater
contributions to the Social Security system than would be paid by an individual
under the payroll tax of today.
4. It provides funding for Social Security and Medicare at a level
equal to or greater than at present, with a stronger and broader tax base.
5. It secures the future of Social Security and Medicare because all
spenders fund it and not just the workers.
6. It eliminates all personal income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate
income taxes, gift taxes, death taxes, and capital gains taxes.
7. It eliminates the income tax and the IRS. Members of Congress and
the public overwhelmingly agree that the current internal revenue code is
cumbersome, intrusive, coercive, and inefficient.
8. It is revenue neutral with the present income tax system, funding
the federal budget at current levels.
9. It will remove an average of 22% of the cost of American made goods
by removing the built-in payroll tax (the other 7.65% of earnings that
employers pay) and other business taxes that are now passed to
consumers as an "embedded" tax of approximately 22% due to the cascading of
income and payroll taxes paid by U.S. employers, at every step of
production, to the U.S. Treasury.
10. It doesn't tax used items ? clothes, cars, homes. Only new items
are taxed when sold by a business to an individual.
11. It is progressive, a "prebate" of the tax amount up to the poverty
level is given to everyone. This means that those spending below the
poverty level have a net gain because the "prebate" exceeds the amount
paid in taxes. (Under the present system they pay the payroll tax even if
they get a full refund of income tax withheld.)

12. It eliminates 90% of the cost of compliance. American families and
American businesses waste an estimated $250 ? $600 billion per year
doing the paperwork necessary to comply with the tax code. That is roughly
$1,000 ? $2,000 annually for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
13. It creates an opportunity for our products to leave this country
costing an average of 25% less, thus increasing our exports, lower our
deficit balance of trade, and increasing employment at home.
14. It encourages investment in companies located in the U.S., thus
providing a home for money already in the US and attracting more. The U.S.
will be the most attractive tax-free haven in the world for doing
business. American companies will return from offshore and overseas.
15. It encourages repatriation to the U.S. of money held by U.S.
individuals and companies now in foreign countries, with no tax consequence.
16. All 290 million Americans and 51 million visiting tourists fund
Social Security and Medicare with their purchases. Today only 110 million
workers fund these programs via deductions from their paychecks.
17. The broader tax base includes the ten percent of our economy, an
estimated $1 trillion, that today is underground or under the table.
Under the FairTax, the illegal drug dealer will pay his tax just like the
rest of us when he buys his sunglasses, BMW, and other items, as will
those who do business for cash.
18. It allows families to save more for home ownership, education, and
retirement. An average family making $50,000 will have $7,500 more
spendable income.
19. It makes educational tuition a tax-free expenditure of tax-free
20. It makes American products more competitive overseas by removing
the embedded tax from them, thus lowering their prices, which compensates
for low foreign wages.
21. It makes American products more competitive at home by removing the
embedded tax from them, compensating for the low cost of imported
products not burdened by taxes imposed by exporting countries.
22. It removes the need for formal 401-K's, IRAs, HSA, etc. Anyone will
be able to set up any kind of savings or investment account without
regard to taxes or the government.
23. It frees churches and other non-profit organizations from the
expense of filing tax returns and paying their half of Social Security and
Medicare payments for employees. There will no longer be any 501.c.3 or
501.c.4 non-profit tax status, because there will be no more tax to be
exempt from.
24. It restores to churches and non-profit organizations the 1st
Amendment right to engage in free speech, without fear of losing their
tax-free status.
25. It gives individuals and businesses the right to donate as much as
they want to in a given year to charitable causes.
26. It restores the 4th Amendment, protecting against unreasonable
searches and seizures, from which the IRS presently is exempt.
27. It restores the 5th Amendment, which guarantees the right to due
process. Under current systems the IRS has their own courts with their
own set of rules not included in the 5th.
28. It cleans up a major flaw in campaign financing, eliminating
campaign donations for "tax favors".
29. It eliminates wrangling in Congress over tax cuts, the tax code,
and who is or is not paying a fair share of the tax bill.
30. It encourages work by letting workers keep 100% of their earnings
and giving a rebate, to boot, making the notion that the more you work,
the more money you have, a reality, unlike the current system where
welfare is lost when you go to work, so your first dollars earned after
taxes just offset what you were currently getting in welfare, making you
no better off.
31. It allows more of the lower income families to become home owners
by allowing a second job income above their current income (all tax
free) to be applied to a mortgage. Money for down payments for homes is
also saved totally tax free so that it will accumulate faster.
32. It allows families to retain farms and businesses in the hands of
those who built them through the elimination of the death tax.
33. It allows families to help each other out tax-free, by eliminating
the gift tax.
34. It encourages individuals to self-insure, making the health system
more direct pay (no 3rd party pay), thus bringing costs down.
35. Without FICA to pay, most states, counties, municipalities, and
school districts will see a large increase in their state budget revenues,
additionally lowering the overall tax burden (State & Federal) for most
36. It assures that no American will find, at the end of the year, a
need to get a loan to pay taxes as an alternative to penalties, interest,
or cheating.
37. It restores individual privacy. The government no longer needs to
know where you work, what you are earning, and what you are doing with
38. It eliminates the need to have a "marriage" clarification declaring
who you live with, as that has no bearing at all on a state or federal
sales tax.
39. It eliminates the need for courts to decide which divorced parent
gets to take the tax deduction for children.
40. It reduces production costs for farmers and other subsidized
businesses, leading to a reduction in subsidies, thus reducing the federal
41. It eliminates the administrative costs incurred by states in
collection of state sales taxes because states will piggyback the state tax
collection onto the national tax collection, for which they are
compensated by the FairTax ?% administrative cost give-back. [Doesn't this go
to the retailers?]
42. It results in a windfall profit for many of those holding taxable
corporate high interest bonds at the time of passage of FairTax, since
they will not be taxed under FairTax. (A higher interest rate is usually
paid to entice investors to buy the corporate bonds rather than go with
the lower interest, but tax free, municipal bonds, now.)
43. It shifts the tax to consumption, which consumption tables over
time show is more stable than income, therefore the tax revenue stream is
likely to be a more stable and predictable amount.
44. It results in Federal Reserve rates being based on current
consumption, which is rather stable, instead of future earnings, which are less
predictable, resulting in surer inflation prevention.
45. It allows for better planning by businesses, because they no longer
have to consider tax implications for everything they do.
46. It makes higher employment or better compensation possible in the
small business sector where today it costs approximately three dollars
in compliance costs to pay one dollar in payroll and income taxes.
47. It moves many now providing tax preparation, advice, accounting,
planning, and records maintenance into an expansive economy where they
will be producing goods and services. There they can add to the standard
of living of all Americans and likely earn more than they do currently,
instead of shuffling paper for the government (and not contributing
anything economically to society).
48. It relieves citizens of the risk of facing the shift in burden of
proof that is so common with the current system, i.e., the taxpayer is
guilty unless innocence can be proved, when even IRS staff sometimes
give conflicting interpretations.
49. It's simple, unambiguous, and certain, the opposite of the current
tax code.
50. It's good for the environment. It reportedly would save about
300,000 trees a year that are needed to produce the paper for the IRS
compliance and tax forms, enough to reach around the equator placed end to
end 28 times. Also, since it taxes only new items, it would encourage
buying tax-free pre-owned cars, clothes, furniture, houses, etc. Reuse is
good for the environment, too.

Best Regards,
John Paul McDaniel

Go to: www.fairtax.org

Submitted by new2ptc on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 6:50pm.

Consider this:

10. It doesn't tax used items ? clothes, cars, homes. Only new items
are taxed when sold by a business to an individual.

The Consumer Tax taxes prescription drugs for the young and old. There are virtually no imbedded taxes in the current retail cost of prescription drugs. The additional tax will be an additional burden

14. It encourages investment in companies located in the U.S., thus
providing a home for money already in the US and attracting more. The U.S.
will be the most attractive tax-free haven in the world for doing
business. American companies will return from offshore and overseas.

That’s right it encourages investments since no taxes are paid on investments including stock purchases and profits.


I have many more reasons why the Consumer Tax is a bad idea.

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 9:17pm.

Is the consumer tax the fair tax? If so how is encouraging investment bad if American companies return from offshore? I think I missed or misunderstood your point.

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 4:16pm.

Here's the thing about the Fair Tax that seems magical to me:

9. It will remove an average of 22% of the cost of American made goods
by removing the built-in payroll tax

and it will tax everything at about 22%. Essentially a wash.

However, we already pay that 22% embedded AND we are already paying all of our income taxes AND we have run up an additional $3 trillion in debt since 2001. In other words, all of what we now pay, embedded and income, still isn't covering the bills.

So, how can it possibly work? It seems to defy logic.

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 4:29pm.

The Magic Tax also completely destroys the existing Social Security system, as current monthly benefits for retirement, disability and orphans are now based on a taxpayer's past taxable income, and once the government loses track of how much people make the formula for determining their monthly Social Security benefits can't possibly work.

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 4:31pm.

The Magic Tax will make DRUG DEALERS pay taxes! Sure, it will wreck the homebuilding industry by making new homes 20-40% more expensive than existing homes, but the DRUG DEALERS will pay taxes!

Where are your priorities, man?

Get your Klanpoints™ today!

Submitted by Rock on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 6:02pm.

Our current system works so well! Our system is so cost efficent and timely!

Seriously, I have seen your argument and it could be factual. Although it is impossible to see how the fair tax will affect our economy. Adam Smith had a theory here...something about an invisible hand. If you don't feel the market will adjust to the new pricing levels then your econ 101 score could not have been very high. In terms of the SS point, perhaps it holds water. Although a simple W2 from your employer could solve the problem. JC's post is the only factual point. Without putting the system into place, there is no way of determining the actual percentage of embedded tax needed to cover expenses.

I am quite surprised that you are not in favor of the system. It is the only system that completely removes a tax burden from the "poor". Then again, it was introduced by a republican. Enough said.

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 10:35am.

Rock, I agree that the Magic Tax eliminates the income tax from the poor. It also reduces the taxes on the Paris Hiltons of the world by 15% or more. Guess who gets to make up the difference? The middle class, who would have their effective tax rate RAISED under the Magic Tax.

Click here for my previous post on the subject

Get your Klanpoints™ today!

Submitted by Rock on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 12:32pm.

I have seen studies where all income levels will prosper. Though, it is a graded level with the lowest income prospering the most, while the higher income levels prosper the least amount. That said, forecasting is an inexact science. I would assume those with the highest income levels/disposable income would only spend more under the fairtax. One item I would hope that we can all agree on, is there must be some tax reform passed in the near future. I haven't reviewed the report in detail, but I wonder if their assumptions included the 25% of Americans who currently don't pay taxes?

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 1:15pm.

I don't know who has determined that 25% of Americans don't pay taxes. Children don't pay taxes. Are 25% of Americans children?

About the federal income tax itself, some people make money out of it through the earned income credit, as the system incorporates a welfare element designed to encourage people with children to go to work. (The Social Security system also includes a welfare element, by providing retirement benefits which are not directly proportional to the SS taxes paid and which favor the lower-wage-earners.) All these incentive and support features of our current system would be thoughtlessly swept away by those who pine for a high sales tax.

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 7:16am.

If I do work for someone else and get paid, am I not making a sale of my services?

Thus as a seller wouldn't I have to remit to the government, as sales tax, 30% of what I collect?

And isn't what I collect also called (from my perspective) "income" or "earned income"?

So am I not in effect paying 30% of my income to the government?

Isn't that a flat 30% income tax rate, with no deductions of any type?

In the end, isn't a sales tax pretty much like an income tax?

Aren't magicians sometimes called illusionists?

Submitted by Rock on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 10:27am.

posting about it. The fairtax essentially is a consumption tax. As far as I know, it has never been presented as a way to "get out of" paying taxes. The proposed consumption tax is 23%, not the 30% you mention above. Prebates are also offered to head of households to cover the taxes on basic needs. However, with that being said, I don't think the fairtax will ever be put into place. Really a shame when you think about it, both parties consistently preach transparency, but neither seem to make any true efforts to reform our system.

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 10:49am.

Rock, the proposed fair tax rate is 23% "Tax inclusive", 30% to most people.

If you buy an item for $1.00 and with sales tax that comes to $1.30, most people would say that is a 30% tax rate.

Neal Boortz and the Magic tax advocates would argue that you are only paying "23% tax inclusive", because $1.00 divided by $1.30 equates to a tax-inclusive rate of 23%. (1 - (1.00/1.30)) = .23

Funny how a number of Magic tax advocates manage to leave out that magic word "inclusive".
Get your Klanpoints™ today!

Submitted by Rock on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 11:43am.

You are right. On an exclusive basis, the fairtax does represent a 30% rate. However, we must compare apples to apples.

For instance, lets assume we have employee x who is currently in the 10% tax bracket. On an exclusive basis they currently are in the 34% tax bracket.

EX: (.10 + .15.3)/ (1 - .253) = .339

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 4:49pm.

Aren't drug dealers sellers? Aren't the sellers supposed to collect the sales tax from their customers (buyers)?

I suppose these drug dealers will just send it in to the government after the sale. Just like they report their income from sales now and pay their income tax. (No need to audit these guys.)

Some days I'm so slow... Pardon me.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 5:13pm.

You did misunderstand him on this one. He meant they will pay the tax when they buy things.
A 30%, plus sales tax won't run the country. It will cause a civil war.
The black markets will be awful.
I don't know how Texas running their state on a sales tax instead of income tax has anything to do with running the USA. Florida uses hotels and Lottery to survive but it soesn't help Washington.

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 5:56pm.

Yes. Also not mentioned is that Texas gets $2.524 Billion this year in oil and natural gas taxes.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 6:45pm.

Sounds a bit socialistic to me.
Couldn't we just take over transportation, utilities, natural resources, farming, all media, and just tax them before distribution and then do away with all other taxes?
In order to have capitalism we could allow some manufacturing by the public, along with the Universities, and then make that fence across Mexico go all the way around the USA (100 feet high and 50 feet into the ground)and charge for entrance.

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