Dr. Mary Headrick for Congress

Dr. Mary Headrick for Congress

October 21st, 2012 in Opinion Times

Mary Headrick

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse/Times Free Press.

Given the overwhelming GOP presence in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, just about everyone believes that Republican incumbent Chuck Fleischmann will retain his seat in his race with Democratic challenger Dr. Mary Headrick. Of course, that belief is encouraged by district Republicans to discourage independent thinking. Instead, voters should listen to the candidates, examine their platforms and consider their merits. If they do, they will quickly learn that Dr. Headrick, a long-time family physician, is an able, informed candidate who would serve the district well in Washington. We strongly recommend her election.

The district needs effective representation. Fleischmann failed to provide it in his initial term. The thoughtful Dr. Headrick would do far better.

Fleischmann has hewed the party line, following the lead of House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP stalwarts. Rather than tend to the district's needs, Fleischmann simply has parroted the no-new-taxes mantra -- mainly to sustain the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy -- even as he panders on the notion of cutting earned entitlements. That, and killing health care reform, is what passes for GOP policy these days. He's said and done little to promote policies or legislation that would broadly benefit his constituents.

Unfortunately, he promises more of the same. On the stump, in one public debate with Headrick and during an editorial board meeting at the Times Free Press, Fleischmann reiterated his determination to restore the nation to a sound fiscal footing through tax cuts, lifting environmental regulations and opposition to Obamacare. He's terribly vague on why a return to the trickle-down economics that produced the Great Recession of 2007-09 would work now. Instead of arithmetic and facts, he offers platitudes about Democratic-based threats to Americans' personal freedoms. That's hardly on point.

Headrick, on the other hand, delivers thoughtful analyses and useful approaches on issues of importance to district residents -- education, health care, rural and urban poverty, tax equity, and incentives to strengthen small businesses. Her deeply studied views deserve a fair hearing and serious consideration throughout the sprawling district.

She's on the right track about resolving the nation's fiscal woes. She proposes a balanced policy for debt reduction -- a nuanced program that reduces spending and boosts revenue, that ends the unconscionable tax advantages for the very wealthy, that establishes equitable thresholds to slow entitlement growth and that uses public and private entities to promote access to higher education and job creation. That actually has a chance of success. It's a refreshing and informed alternative to the partisan jargon on the same subjects offered by Fleischmann and his fellow Republicans.

Fleischmann exudes a sense of entitlement but nothing of substance as he seeks a return to office. Headrick offers substantive policies built on careful study, and a trustworthy promise of hard work to improve the health and security of Tennesseans and all Americans. She is by any measure the far superior choice to represent District 3 in Congress. We urge her election.