Hayden Collins has established himself as a conservative voice with a sense of humor in Northwest Georgia with his Saturday radio show.
He is an Army veteran of the Persian Gulf War and remains involved with the military through the Georgia Department of Defense. He’s a project manager and facility analyst with consulting firm Intelligent Systems & Engineering Services.
The Cartersville resident and his wife of 24 years, Sandra, fostered 152 children in 15 years and adopted four of them.
AJT: The presidential primaries have revealed a lot of anger at the political establishment. Why are you the right candidate to respond to that sentiment?
Collins: A considerable amount of voters’ anger toward the political establishment is in response to elected officials devoting their efforts toward the political games of Washington, D.C., instead of the concerns of their constituents, and the ineffective political gridlock of recent years. I will work together with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who are committed to reducing the size and extent of our government and the tax burden that is enabling it. It is not about sustaining the establishment culture; it’s about serving the district.
AJT: What sort of strategies will you use against “establishment culture”? How does your background support this?
Collins: The Democrat in this race, you should meet him. He’s a heck of a nice guy. He served in the 82nd Airborne as well. He and I sat and talked over coffee and had a great conversation. We have things in common. We served in the same combat zone. He actually works with kids like I work with kids. I actually work with gang members down at Georgia Youth Challenge and help them out. We have a lot in common. This (gridlock) tends to disappear if you have a lot in common and common goals.
We’re spinning in our debt because we couldn’t make the tough decisions. This polarization that you’re talking about, it’s a result that I truly believe is individuals trying to legislate leadership instead of actually making the tough decisions.
AJT: Why should the Jews in your district support your candidacy?
Collins: Jewish voters in the 11th Congressional District are likely to share my positions in a number of areas, including my regard for Israel as our most important ally in the Middle East and that our president and elected officials must extend the same respectful welcome to Israel’s prime minister as we do to other heads of state from around the world.
From my Army service in the 1991 Desert Shield and Desert Storm missions, I gained firsthand experience of both the tensions and difficult living conditions resulting from the long-term hostilities in the region and also the need to allow Israel, Palestine and other sovereign entities to make the decisions about the peace process.
AJT: Democratic Congressman David Scott recently advocated increasing the amount of U.S. foreign military financing received by Israel from the current $3.1 billion a year to $7 billion a year. What level of U.S. financial aid do you feel Israel should receive and why?
Collins: The large majority of U.S. aid to Israel is currently in military assistance. These grants represent the U.S.’s support for establishing and sustaining stability through our alliance with Israel. As a member of Congress, I will support continuing this aid and a renewed MOU with Israel.
I’m not interested in cutting back. The current level of investment that we’re putting in seems successful without interfering with the economic structure that’s there, and we’re not damaging anything. I think that’s extremely solid. Now considering this, all bets are off if the balloon goes up. If war breaks out, there is no doubt: There is no limit.
AJT: What do you think is the solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and how do we get there?
Collins: The U.S. has long provided support for the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Palestinian entities over the control and governance of territory to which both make claims. While the U.S. and the United Nations desire a peaceful resolution for the disputed land and an end to the decades of violence over it, the United States needs to continue in the role of encouraging and facilitating bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestinian entities for the resolution of possession of the disputed territory, while maintaining the U.S.’s commitment to establishing and sustaining stability in the region.
AJT: What do you see as the primary domestic policy challenges of the next decade?
Collins: Our first concern should be our nation’s economy and its long-term health. This must include reducing our federal budget by cutting back the overreaching extensions of federal government administration and move as much decision and spending authority as possible back to the states.
AJT: How should we approach smaller government?
Collins: First of all, let’s not go into the polarized mantra of “kill the EPA, kill the Department of Education, kill the IRS.” That’s polarized mantra. Have we got so many bureaucrats doing the EPA stuff that it’s become — instead of helping the people take care of the environment, it’s forcing the people to take care of the environment. It’s become an enemy. Has the Department of Education gotten to the point where they’re trying to justify their own existence by testing everybody to death so the last nine weeks of school is nothing but testing, so they’ve become an enemy instead of helping? Yeah. If you allow government to grow, it’ll grow. They’re not going to sit around. They’ll do whatever they’re told to the point of extreme. I do not want the government to be the enemy of the people. Because of the restrictions and empire building of these organizations, we are there.
AJT: As you know, Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed H.B. 757, the religious liberty legislation, drawing criticism at Republican district conventions around the state. Do you see religious liberty as being threatened?
Collins: Whatever their personal convictions, with regard to the recent proposed legislation on religious liberty, I uphold the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion in our country and of keeping separate the operations of the church/religious organizations and those of the state. Let’s put it this way: If there was an oppressed church in the United States, would it not be all over CNN and Fox News? There’s no oppressed churches, but hear this as well: We have nine religious bills in the House of Representatives this year alone. You know what that means? That means that the Georgia General Assembly understands that the 0.5 (percent) growth we have in the United States, that’s OK with them. That we had to close up the hospice at the VA? That’s OK with them.
See, those aren’t important issues to them. What’s important to them is that they’ve got to get religious liberty bills through because that’s more important than anything else in the state of Georgia. Is that focus actually helping the next generation? Is that focus actually helping the economy and the debt like they all claim during their campaigns? No.
AJT: Finally, what are your priorities on tax and budget policies?
Collins: As part of a long-term plan for our economy, we need to reduce the federal government’s budget. Cutting established programs and entitlements will take courage and conviction on the part of all our elected representatives. We can begin reducing our federal budget by cutting back the overreaching extensions of federal government administration and move as much decision and spending authority as possible back to the states — reforming the IRS and implementing a less complicated and less burdensome form of taxation. We can seek out and eliminate the stifling regulations that are impeding small businesses across the country. Finally, we can work with elected representatives and business leaders to create long-term economic plans that will last beyond an election cycle.
Instead of putting financial obstacles and requirements in their way, I will fight to reduce the burdens of government regulations and costly government programs and use the savings from these former expenses to bring down our debt — without bringing down the opportunities of American businesses. And I will show no mercy for hiding pet projects in massive funding bills that are brought to a vote at the last minute without thorough review and pruning.