Last Monday, I met Geoff Smith at a Meet The Candidates event in Polk County. Even though I disagree with him on many issues, as he is a social conservative and I’m not, I respect his honesty and integrity. He is running against Chuck Fleischmann, the incumbent, and Allan Levene, who I am unsure if he has even ever been to Tennessee–he ran in Hawaii before and is also running in Georgia’s 14th district this year. Geoff’s campaign website is http://www.gsmith4congress.com. I’ll compare his positions with mine here, but it’s always best to get information directly from the source.
Smith served in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and earned a master’s in public administration, and, most importantly, his first child is coming this July. (Good luck!) There are two kinds of people with whom I disagree: Those who are ignorant, and those who are well-educated but have different values. Geoff is definitely in the latter category.
He has seven issues listed on his website, so I’ll do a bit of comparing and contrasting.
Illegal immigration allows safe haven for persons espousing socialism. Illegals burden tax-payers, compromise national security, increase criminal activity, and damage the ideal American citizenship. Securing the border and deporting illegals is a priority for any country that has a mixed-economy.
First, I don’t have a problem with socialists and have no idea what “ideal American citizenship” is, so I don’t have a problem with illegal immigration on that basis. In researching criminal activity by illegal immigrants I come up with a very mixed message, generally along partisan lines. Conservative news organizations, such as Fox News, portray illegals as committing a higher number of crimes than citizens. (Fox did point out that the federal government’s data in this area is inadequate.) Pacific Standard, in contrast, points out that as the number of illegal immigrants increases overall crime rates drop. USA Today may have had the best quote: “There’s no evidence that immigrants are either more or less likely to commit crimes than anyone else in the population,” Janice Kephart, a CIS researcher, said last week on the PBS NewsHour. As far as national security goes, this seems like more of a theoretical threat than an actual one, at least as far as Islamic terrorism is concerned. The 9/11 hijackers entered legally, the Boston Marathon bombers and the Chattanooga shooter were citizens, and the San Bernardino shooters were a citizen and his wife.
I agree that border security is important, just not billion-dollar walls important. If you’re worried about illegal immigration, then addressing global income inequalities is a better approach.
The economy works best when there is a stable dollar and government stays out of the way of business. For most Republican politicians this is just rhetoric, but I believe in unleashing the creative potential of all Americans by cutting massive regulations in order for industry to compete and provide American jobs. I also believe in implementing the fair-tax, so as to not punish producers.
This is probably where I agree with Geoff the most. We do need to streamline regulations so that American manufacturers can compete more fairly with imported products. I do think that we should do this while also pressuring those countries to improve their own environmental and labor regulations. I do believe that the Fair Tax is an improvement, in many ways, over our current income tax system, but I would prefer a graduated sales tax instead of a flat sales tax, with luxury items and non-necessities taxed at a higher rate than staple goods, but that’s a trivial difference–and to be fair, I’m not sure Smith would oppose that idea.
Abortion is one of the major issues for my run for Congress. Planned Parenthood is fully-funded through the Consolidated Act of 2016 that Rep. Chuck Fleischmann voted for. I will not vote for one-penny of funding for Planned Parenthood and will have a 100% voting record with the National Right to Life Foundation. Great misunderstandings are associated with Planned Parenthood, much of which concerns the availability of services to women. For instance, Planned Parenthood fails to offer even the basics of women’s health care, such as mammograms which is not offered at all. Rep. Bill Johnson (Ohio) said in 2013 that 94% of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services are abortions. The agency must be defunded and all monies should be moved to areas where women ARE SERVED.
First, the Rep. Johnson quote is questionable at best, and misleading at worst. Planned Parenthood provides many services to women who aren’t pregnant, and the organization itself doesn’t track what services it provides to pregnant women. My answers to the National Right to Life Committee questionnaire are here and here, but the short version is that I don’t expect to have a 100% voting record with any organization. The big problem with defunding Planned Parenthood is that it is one of the only sources for many women to obtain contraception. If I had any confidence that conservatives would allow contraceptive or “morning after” pills to be sold over-the-counter without prescriptions, I would be more receptive to suggestions to defund Planned Parenthood. I think they would be more likely to invite a million Syrian refugees into the country.
Education is not one of the constitutional roles of the federal government. Therefore, education should be totally under the control of the state and local government. The U.S. Department of Education is an unconstitutional federal agency and if elected I will do everything within my power to abolish the department and establish a plan to return total control of education back to the individual states. It is not enough to abolish the department we must make sure that all education functions are returned to the state and not just moved to another federal agency. All education policies would also be determined and run at the state level. I would also do all that I can to end intrusive policies such as Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) which is the reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). This would be a major endeavor that would take careful planning and a transition period of not more than 2 years.
Liberals argue that the Commerce Clause allows the federal government to regulate education. I don’t agree. However, I do believe that the Equal Protection Clause of Amendment XIV does allow the federal government to intervene in cases where state and local governments provide a good public education to some children and not others, most notably when the Supreme Court forced integration in Brown v. Board of Education. I would prefer to go a step further than Geoff and have most public education functions handled at the local and not the state level. I do think that the state needs to be involved in special education, as smaller school districts may not have the resources to handle this effectively, and I think that states may need to help districts (current Title I districts) with providing funds for low-income students. I do think that the Equal Protection Clause might apply in this area, if state governments were unable or unwilling to provide good schools for all students. But, on the whole, I would like to see less federal involvement in education. I don’t think Smith and I are too far apart on this issue.
Being a veteran, I can ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’ on veteran issues. The reason for the VA’s poor record is the simple fact that civilians do not understand the issues concerning veterans. A fellow veteran understands these issues. Plus, the socialist system of treating our veterans needs to be addressed through free-market reforms, for example, putting a voucher system in place for our veteran’s treatment.
Both parties have done a horrible job making sure veterans get the treatment they earned. I described my views on health care when discussing Trump’s health plan, and I think that long-term, for many reasons, single-payer health care is necessary, and properly funding the VA and improving the way it is managed is part of that path. However, in the short-term, I think a voucher system so that veterans can use private providers instead of waiting months or years for treatment is a decent Band-Aid while we treat the main disease. Smith believes that we should “Repeal & replace Obamacare with free market reforms” (his campaign flyer). I don’t think free market reforms can work unless we were also willing to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid, because even without Obamacare government spending is over half of all healthcare spending in the U.S.
I will have a 100% voting record with the NRA. I am one of the few politicians to ever shoot a wide-array of guns (semi-automatic, machine guns, grenade launchers) because of my time in the Army Infantry. The constitutionally protected right to bears arms is one of my most important issues.
Like I said above, I won’t have a 100% voting record with anyone. I do believe in the right to bear arms, but I also believe, as the Supreme Court does, that it can be regulated. For example, I would like all gun transfers to require a background check–preferably an instant online check, to put gun dealers on a level playing field with private sellers. I would also like to see all students take a firearms safety course in school, if for no other reason than to prevent accidental shootings.
Thanks to Representative Chuck Fleischmann, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are coming to the United States. I see these refugees as a terrorist threat, and anyone who would vote to fund them is endangering everyone. The rape, murder, and all-out cultural shock the refugees have caused in Western Europe should have been enough evidence not to fund this Obama agenda.
The Daily Caller, not exactly a liberal mouthpiece, gives the number as 45,000 over two years. Most refugees hate Islamic State more than we do, and I don’t see them as a serious threat. If we want to cut that threat to almost zero, limit the refugees to women, children, and families without military-age men. We would still help our allies in Europe and the Middle East reduce their refugee burden while leaving them with all of the risk.
As far as I can tell, I mostly agree with Geoff on the economy, education, and veterans, mostly disagree with him on illegal immigration, abortion, refugees, and probably a split on gun rights, so 3.5 for, 3.5 against, which is probably about as close as I get with most major party candidates. Given a choice between Chuck Fleischmann and Geoff Smith in the August primary, it’s not even close: I’d definitely vote for Smith. I have not yet decided which primary I am choosing–hurray for Tennessee’s open primaries!–but even though I disagree with him on many issues I know he’s a man with integrity who will do what he believes is right. That goes a long way with me.