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Congressional candidates cite federal agencies, programs theyd end
I-9th District Forum pic
9th District U.S. House candidates Mike Scupin, Bernie Fontaine, Roger Fitzpatrick, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun listen to a question during a town hall meeting Monday night at the Brenau Downtown Center in Gainesville. - photo by Erin O. Smith DCN regional staff

Get rid of the IRS, the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Education and even U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has waffled over his support for Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president.

Removal of established programs and people was a common theme during a town hall meeting Monday night at the Brenau Downtown Center, featuring GOP candidates seeking the 9th District seat in the U.S. House. The primary is May 24, and early voting runs through May 20.

"While we're at it, let's get rid of the (Environmental Protection Agency)," said former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, after listing departments he'd put on the chopping block. "Would you all like to see that?"

"There are a lot of departments that need to be cut, but if you want to get at the real costs, you're going to go after the big drivers - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid," incumbent Doug Collins said.

"I think the (Department of Veteran Affairs) needs to be privatized because the private sector can render medical care better, and that means we need to get rid of Obamacare totally," Roger Fitzpatrick said.

Bernie Fontaine, a Vietnam veteran, talked about the long distances veterans have to go for health care. As to the VA: "We need to roll some heads at the top and kick some butt at the bottom," he said.

"One of the worst things this country ever did was implementing the income tax," Mike Scupin said. "...We need to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service; we need to go to the (national retail sales tax)."

The event got heated when the federal omnibus bill, which fully funded Planned Parenthood, was mentioned in a question by one of the audience members.

"If you would have gotten Planned Parenthood out of the omnibus, then you would have done it, but you couldn't," Collins said.

Before he could explain his answer further, he was loudly booed by several audience members.

The audience reaction drew a sharp response from Fitzpatrick.

"Show some respect, please," he said.

In his allotted time to respond to the question, Fitzpatrick said he wouldn't have voted for the bill. "Anything that would violate the moral conscience ... you cannot vote for those sorts of things."

"I would not have voted for the omnibus bill," Broun said. "The way I vote is (based on whether a bill is) biblically correct, constitutional, do we need it and can afford it."

Fontaine said Congress in general has a "systemic problem."

"We need to get a whole lot of new people ... and new leadership up there and change the system," he said.

Scupin ramped up criticism of Collins in his response.

The "Doug Collins dog-and-pony show doesn't just happen with Planned Parenthood," he said. "It happens with nearly every vote he makes up there."

One thing the candidates were unanimous on was their support for Trump.

"Of course, I support him," Fontaine said. "... What we have to do is look at not what you like but what the country needs."

Scupin gave his support but said Trump "rose to the top ... because of the (GOP's) failure to do the right thing when they had the opportunity."

Trump is "the people's choice," Broun said, adding he didn't want to see "the establishment in Washington try to steal (it) away."

"Here's the deal: There's nobody in this room that's going to be happy with Hillary Clinton in the White House," Collins said.

"Whoever (wins) ... you've got to work with, and if (Trump) does something I don't like, he needs to be called out on it," Fitzpatrick said.