U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., felt some of the heat searing Republican lawmakers over their proposed budget cuts at his town hall meeting Wednesday night in Rock Hill.
But the few hundred people joining the Indian Land congressman at York Technical College came mostly to show support and express anger over the nation's challenges.
Mulvaney argued for more radical spending cuts and criticized what he sees as a bipartisan lack of effective management of the nation's expenses.
He supplemented his arguments with a slide presentation filled with complicated charts and graphs. The details, he said, were meant as "a nonpolitical presentation" showing what will happen "if we don't do anything differently."
The result, he said, will be drastic cuts, largely felt by the middle class.
"We recognize the middle class are going to get soaked by this," he said.
And Republicans and Democrats alike are to blame, he said to cheers and clapping.
Medicare will see major changes.
"Medicare as it exists today is finished," Mulvaney said.
The difference between President Barack Obama's budget plan for the next fiscal year and one proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which the House passed this month, is "who gets to make the decisions" about Medicare spending, he said.
Under Ryan's plan which Mulvaney supports, the government would end direct support for Medicare costs and begin subsidizing taxpayers' private insurance costs starting in 2022. Taxpayers would pay more of their own health care costs, estimates show.
One audience member called out, "Why don't you control the costs instead of taking it out on taxpayers?"
Mulvaney provided few plans for addressing rising health care costs during the meeting.
Afterward, he said he would look to the "free market" to provide a solution. Government getting involved in health care has led to high costs, he said.
Fielding criticism over tax loopholes for high earners and corporations, Mulvaney said he's upset that loopholes have allowed some to avoid paying taxes.
Without "a team of tax lawyers," the middle class misses out on tax breaks, he said.
He advocates a simpler tax system with two brackets. Those with incomes of $100,000 or below would pay 10 percent in income taxes; those making more would pay 25 percent.
That way everyone would contribute and have "skin in the game."
When asked about ending tax cuts for the nation's top wage earners passed by Congress under former President George W. Bush, Mulvaney said doing so would only provide a short-term solution.
"If you believe history, then it doesn't work," he said.
Self-described liberal Ade Salami and conservative Joseph Kejr agreed on at least one thing after attending Wednesday's meeting: the country's tax system is unfair.
Kejr supports a "fair tax" which would eliminate taxes, thereby eliminating complex tax loopholes.
"It's probably not fair," Kejr admitted, "but it's a lot better than what we have now."
As a taxpayer, Salami said he's already a "single payer" who's forced to pay for the health care of others, including members of congress. He suggested Mulvaney support "a single-payer system" for health care.
"We have capable people" who can make that system work, he said.
Mulvaney agreed to disagree.
"The more time I spend in government, the more I've learned that we're not good at hardly anything," he said.
Mulvaney has scheduled another town hall meeting at 6:30 tonight at the Council Chambers of the Kershaw County Government Center in Camden.