The event, Washington, D.C. Comes to Polk, was organized by the Polk County Chamber of Commerce. The visit substitutes for the chamber's usual annual visit to Washinton -- this year, instead of local elected officials and business leaders heading to the nation's capitol, Gingrey, along with representatives from the offices of Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Sen. Johnny Isakson, came to Rockmart instead.
Gingrey spoke about the current public perception of Congress,which he described as "down ... for both parties."
Gingrey cited earmarks -- extra spending attached to bills, often to benefit a particular Congressman's district -- as an example of practices that have led many of the public to believe that many of their elected leaders "are feathering their own nests."
Gingrey said the Republican party has proposed a temporary moratorium on local spending requests, to provide a "timeout" until a longterm solution to the issue is agreed upon.
Gingrey also took an opportunity to take a dig at the Democratic party. He said in 2006 elections Democrats promised to bring a "common sense energy policy." Gingrey noted that gasoline was selling for an average of $2.66 per gallon of regular unleaded in January 2007 when many newly elected Democrats took office. Now gasoline is selling for a national average of $4.05 per gallon.
"Whatever that 'common sense plan' happened to be ... it hasn't worked," Gingrey said.
Gingrey also answered some questions from the audience. He spoke in favor of a multi-pronged energy policy that would include increased drilling in coastal waters, and he supports opening up the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) region to exploration.
Gingrey said that he supports other alternative energy proposals, such as wind generation farms, along with increased nuclear generation, and scaling up of efforts to produce petroleum products from oil sands, oil shale and "coal to liquid" technologies.
Gingrey said the country must move away from its dependence on imported oil -- now 60 percent of the nation's supply.
Gingrey said critics say such a plan would take many years to have any impact on oil prices. They're wrong, he said.
Gingrey said once the country makes a serious move toward energy independence, "I guarantee the (oil) speculators would start selling immediately," and the price of fuel would come down.
Gingrey also spoke briefly about the No Child Left Behind Act. He agreed that changes need to be made so that the program continues to make strides in improving the education of all children, but without "embarassing good schools."
Also during the luncheon, Engineered Fabrics Corp. President John Skubina presented a slide show detailing the Rockmart manufacturing company's growth. The firm makes fuel tanks, de-icing equipment and other parts for helicopters and airplanes. Skubina said at present, about 92 percent of the company's output is devoted to military aircraft. Gingrey was applaused as a supporter of several of those projects, including the V-22 Osprey infantry transport craft and the F-22 Raptor jet fighter.