Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens speaks with a member of the Albany Rotary Club on Sept. 6, 2012. Olens said one of his biggest surprises when he became Georgia's A.G. was the adversarial approach the federal government took in dealing with the states.
ALBANY When Sam Olens was sworn in as Georgia’s attorney general in January of 2011, waging battles with the United States government wasn’t on his mind.
He knows better now.
“When I was running for attorney general, I thought I’d be working closely with the federal government,” Olens, speaking Thursday to the Albany Rotary Club, said. “It didn’t take long to realize instead we would actually be at war. I can’t tell you how much time I spend on the phone with them as they are deciding which states to sue.”
The attorney general touched on a wide variety of topics during a 45-minute speech, most notably his leading the state’s fight against the federal Affordable Care Act until the issue was decided in the federal government’s favor in a 5-4 vote by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.
“I was bitterly disappointed in that ruling,” said Olens. “It means $600 billion in new taxes and will take $700 billion away from Medicare. It represents the further dumbing down of health care in this country.”
Olens then touched upon the state’s “water wars” with Alabama and Florida, seeking to calm Georgia residents who live south of Atlanta.
“I saw a political cartoon the other day which depicted the city of Atlanta sipping water through a straw from south Georgia. That will never happen,” Olens said. “The state averages 55 inches of rain per year; God gives us enough water for all. This is a management issue.”
The attorney general talked about what he sees as a chipping away of the individual liberties of Americans.
“There is no doubt we need some political decisions based on security, but we have had a huge erosion of freedoms and rights in this country,” Olens said. “I won’t say nice things about the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), but it is a balance. TSA personnel could stand a course in courtesy. The threats, however, are real, and so are the concerns.”
Olens urged ordinary Americans to wake up and to protect the Constitution.
"The Constitution limits rather than gives power to the government," he said. "Elections have consequences, and we have gone to sleep behind the wheel. We've had our heads in the sand for decades and have been losing our freedoms along the wa