Your money. Your benefits. Your retirement. Your health. Your lifestyle. Your rights. Your personal freedoms. Your safety and security. Your children's education.
All those, and many other issues which effect your life, are at stake in the Tennessee Sixth District Congressional election on Nov. 2.
With Bart Gordon stepping aside after 13 terms as Tennessee's 6th District congressman, there are two primary contenders running for the seat in the Nov. 2 election.
One is Diane Black, a Republican from Gallatin who has served in both the Tennessee State Senate and House of Representatives.
The other is Brett Carter, a Democrat who also lives in Gallatin. Carter is an attorney who also served in the Tennessee National Guard.
The Cannon Courier sent questions to both candidates asking them what they see as the major issues in the election, and what they would do to address them. The questions and their responses follow.
What do you see as the major issues facing the United States, the 6th Congressional District and Cannon County now and during the next four years?
DIANE BLACK: The United States, the 6th Congressional District and Cannon County are all being affected by the out-of-control spending of this Administration. I believe our government is hopelessly off course. Congress is piling up a massive debit that the next generation will have to pay while invading every sector of the economy with a big-government approach that won't work.
BRETT CARTER: My top priority will be jobs. Our economy is struggling, and every public servant must be focused on bringing and retaining good paying jobs in this District. My experience as a business lawyer has shown me how businesses evaluate a community before selecting a location, which I can use to attract jobs to the area. In Cannon County, the poverty rate is 13%, which represents a formidable challenge.
How do you plan to address them?
BLACK: While President Obama and Speaker Pelosi believe that we can "spend our way out of the recession." I believe the opposite is true. I support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that requires Congress to balance our income with our spending. Putting conservative fiscal principles in place throughout our budget process, and making private-sector economic growth our lead objective, we can get federal spending under control and our budget back on track.
I will also advocate for earmark and budget reform that stops the practice of funding the government through "must pass" supplemental and emergency appropriations bills. I will advocate budget reform that includes potent internal incentives - like suspending Congress' own pay as soon as the budget deadline passes with no budget passed - to bring transparency and honesty back to the budgeting process. We will never get the size of government in the economy to a realistic size until we have entitlement reform and the first step in that process is putting all entitlements "in budget," so the actual truth of our current trajectory is evident to all.
On the revenue side, I believe we need to eliminate the estate tax permanently, eliminate capital gains taxes, lower the corporate tax rate, and simplify and flatten the personal income tax. We can do all of these things in the near term with a conservative House majority.
The federal government also should pass new free trade agreements to spark growth and it must implement a national energy policy that opens up the energy marketplace to ensure a stable cheap supply.
I believe Congress needs to act to eliminate the bureaucratic oversight and get out of the way so American businesses can be successful. We need to focus on the health of the business community by restoring predictability to our tax policy and reigning in federal spending.
Today's outrageous level of federal spending is crowding out the private credit that small businesses need to function and grow. The uncertainty of an ever-growing tax burden is keeping private investment on the sidelines.
I believe this administration must act immediately to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. By extending these tax cuts, or better yet, by making them permanent, we can eliminate much of the uncertainty that employers face and inspire confidence in the business community.
At the same time, I believe we must act to repeal ObamaCare, which is holding America's entrepreneurial spirit in check. As a registered nurse, I believe patients, doctors and health care providers should be making health care decisions - not bureaucrats in Washington. Health care reform should lower health care costs while protecting quality and increasing patient control of decision-making. We can achieve this by introducing more market forces and more transparency to the industry and by reducing government regulations.
We must act to remove the legal barriers to small-business insurance pooling - every business should benefit from the same economies of scale that our largest corporations get, and we should allow self-employed people to receive the same tax break that large corporations get for health care premiums.
Insurance companies must become more flexible with regards to pre-existing conditions. At the same time, it must also be possible for Americans to take their insurance policy with them upon changing jobs. Correcting these two issues will not only improve the health care system for each individual but also boost our economy as a whole. Another issue is tort reform -- it must be part of the agenda when it comes to bringing down costs. Frivolous lawsuits are a major factor in the equation.
Only by changing the culture of spending and over-regulation in Washington can we put America back on the path to economic strength and stability.
CARTER: With a poverty rate of 13% in Cannon County, we must rebuild Cannon's economy. I have released a three point jobs plan which is built on my experience working with businesses on tax issues and growth.
Briefly, the first part is improving our roadways and technological infrastructure to provide access for businesses hoping to locate in the area, while also providing wireless and broadband systems for workers and families.
The second part balances government regulations to encourage lending for small businesses that want to hire new staff. Loans are difficult to come by currently due to constricting government regulations. While some regulation is important, we must also provide options for those businesses that want to grow.
The third part recognizes the need for a quality workforce and supports training and education to attract businesses to the area. Each of these steps is important in turning around our economy in the 6th District. It will also be important to work with state and local leaders to set the right environment for growth across Tennessee.
Why should voters elect you over the person or persons(s) you are running against?
BLACK: I am a proven leader who gets things done. Now more than ever we need someone who can start cleaning up Washington's mess on day one.
I am a small business owner who recognizes firsthand that real job creation comes from less government regulation, fewer government mandates and lower taxes on businesses. I am a nurse by profession and I understand the goal of health care should be to lower costs, period.
I have shown that I have the guts to stand up to members of my own party and I will do the same in Congress as I fight back against government run health care, out-of-control spending and tax increases.
CARTER: I am a military veteran who earned a Bronze Star in Iraq, not a career politician. People are tired of the same old games that my challenger played to beat up on her opponents to win the primary. She even filed a lawsuit and continues to fight those opponents.
I offer something different. I have the backbone to stand up to anyone, anywhere, anytime to do what is right for this district. I don't have any of the strings attached that comes with serving in government for years.
I will only vote for those things that help this district, not my own family, and I will fight special interests that stop Congress from getting things done. People who learn that about me will find my experience and service compelling against a career politician like my opponent.