WASHINGTON -- As the ripples of sequestration begin to spread across the country, members of Congress are in their home districts for recess this week, meeting with their constituents and hearing their concerns. On Tuesday, dissatisfaction with the budget cuts spilled over into Rep. Mike Rogers' (R-Ala.) town hall meeting, when a local businessman stood up and said he worried that sequestration was going to destroy his business.
John Mullins, 57, is a lifelong resident of Auburn, Ala., where Rogers held his Tuesday meeting with constituents. For the past 15 years, he's owned Collector's Corner, which sells comic books and other paraphernalia.
During the town hall, Mullins became frustrated by another attendee's call to impeach President Barack Obama. Mullins said the man also called the president a "terrorist."
"You're a crazy man. You are crazy,” interjected Mullins, the Opelika-Auburn News reported. "The president is not some person trying to take your rights away."
Mullins then confronted Rogers, saying his primary concern was about sequestration and the effect it would have on his business.
"The House of Representatives has done more to hurt my business than anything government, by anybody -- state, local, federal -- has ever done in that 15 years," he said. "Every time ya'll do something and cut funding, it hurts my customers. They have less money to spend. When they have less money to spend, they spend less with me, which means I have less money. You're ... destroying my business with the sequester."
Rogers' office did not return a request for comment about the exchange.
In an interview with The Huffington Post on Wednesday, Mullins, who considers himself to be a Democrat, said he's heard from fellow business owners who are also concerned about sequestration. He said he believes the across-the-board federal cuts have already hurt his sales. While it's likely too early to attribute any economic effects to sequestration -- a drop in spending could, for example, be attributed to the end of the payroll tax credit -- Mullins' comments reflect how concerns about sequestration have filtered down to the constituent level.
In February, Wells Fargo said Alabama was one of the states at "highest risk" of economic contraction from sequestration.
Mullins also said he has been receiving compliments from Auburn residents all day long, thanking him for standing up to the man who called for Obama's impeachment. Indeed, even his phone interview with The Huffington Post was interrupted by someone coming into his store and praising his conduct at the town hall.
"I've even had Republican businessmen, who are diehard Republicans, tell me that I did the right thing in calling the guy out, because they say that's hurting the party with that craziness," he said. "So both sides have been thanking me, which really surprises me. Maybe that's a sign that people are getting tired of this and want people to work together."
Rogers didn't buy into the constituent's call to impeach the president either, replying that it would be a waste of time "in absence of him doing something more directly in violation of the constitution." The congressman added that the public's primary concern right now was the economy.