published Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Democratic congressional candidate Bill Taylor releases platform


by Chris Carroll
Bill Taylor announces his candidacy for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District seat, currently held by Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. Sandy Lusk, center, and Debbie Deakins look on at the Hamilton County Democratic Party headquarters off Market Street.
Bill Taylor announces his candidacy for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District seat, currently held by Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. Sandy Lusk, center, and Debbie Deakins look on at the Hamilton County Democratic Party headquarters off Market Street.
Photo by Dan Henry.
Bill Taylor's Platform
Bill Taylor's Platform
Poll
Which candidate do you support for the 3rd Congressional District?

He likes President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, but he would tweak it.

He doesn't think Congress should be a "cushy job you never want to leave," but he won't set term limits on himself.

He'll close the revenue gap, but he won't raise taxes.

Welcome to the mind of Bill Taylor, the Democratic congressional candidate who sees himself as a centrist dealmaker, not a liberal flamethrower.

"Congress needs some flexibility -- I'm not willing to sign some of these pledges people put in front of me," said Taylor, who's campaigning to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. "And I'll be 60 years old [in May], so it's not going to be too many terms."

Competing for the Democratic nomination in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, Taylor this week released a written platform that included his views on the economy, health care and education.

That's more than Fleischmann's Republican primary opponents Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp have done, though Wamp said he will unveil his platform Monday to the Pachyderm Club.

While Taylor's platform doesn't have any polished proposals, it does outline an idea for job creation -- strengthening high school vocational training programs with federal block grants -- and suggests that lawmakers scrutinize all tax deductions and loopholes.

"They tend to benefit people like [Mitt] Romney as opposed to somebody working at Amazon," Taylor said.

More technical training in schools would give high school graduates the qualifications needed to land "$80,000 jobs" in welding and manufacturing, Taylor said, mentioning Alstom as a potential local partner.

The lead administrator at Chattanooga's Physician Practice Resources, Taylor offered a mixed review of the president's efforts on health care reform.

He supports a mandate requiring health insurance companies to pay 80 cents of every premium dollar to providers such as hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacists. Before Congress passed the health care reform law, insurance companies could use that money for advertising, marketing and profit, he said.

He also said he's happy Obama's bill covers "kids to age 26."

But overall, Taylor said, the health reform bill "needs more teeth" to require insurance companies' participation.

Union County physician Dr. Mary Headrick is the other Democrat in the race.

"They're very qualified and mature adults who really want to serve the community," Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith said. "We're really trying to get people as candidates that are highly trained and well-educated."

Taylor, a political newcomer, only had 16 days between announcing for Congress and the New Year's Eve deadline for accepting year-end contributions, so he did not file a year-end financial disclosure. He declined Wednesday to say how much money he has raised so far.

"I will say I'm encouraged by the amount people are giving," he said, adding that the average individual contribution is about $500.

Taylor's initial goal was raising $250,000 in January alone, a benchmark he needs to hit if he wants to play ball with Fleischmann, who has $619,000 in the campaign bank, and Wamp, who has $285,000.

"You have a better chance of seeing eight states from Rock City than the Democrats do in winning the 3rd Congressional District," Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said.

More than 90 percent of funds for Fleischmann and Wamp can only be used for the GOP primary, but many donors have expressed a willingness to give more to the eventual Republican nominee for general election purposes.

Ron Bhalla and Jean Howard-Hill also are running for the GOP nod.

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