Carter, Black take up for party in U.S. House debate

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Diane Black and Brett Carter shake hands before their debate last week in Gallatin.

GALLATIN -- Perhaps the most memorable exchange between the political party candidates campaigning to represent Marshall County in Congress was when the newcomer accused his opponent of being a career politician and she said she'd been a nurse longer than he's been alive.

State Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) wants to succeed U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon of Murfreesboro and, during her service in the state Legislature that started a dozen years ago, the then state representative renewed her nursing license and has said it was valuable when stress adversely affected colleagues.

Brett Carter, the Democratic nominee who's a certified public accountant with a law degree and a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, had challenged Black to give their debate audience more than talking points when they discussed issues on Thursday at Volunteer State Community College.

Black did ask voters that night to elect her to serve in Congress to fight "Obama-Pelosi" legislation, and Carter responded by offering to look for compromises to solve problems so progress could be made.

Republicans are not interested in solving problems for working class families, Carter said.

"Come to the table with solutions, or don't come to the table at all," Carter said.

Carter's right, Black said of the need for solutions, "but the first step is to repeal 'Obamacare.'"

She advocates competition so people could buy health insurance across state lines and making health care costs deductible.

It's deductible now, but only after a large cost has been paid and the amount thereafter is deductible from income taxes, thereby affording the taxpayer a reduction based on the tax bracket.

"I understand the cash side" of medical billing and services costs, Carter said. "I'm an accountant. The cost was going up before reform. If we did nothing, which is what the Republicans were doing, it would still have gone up."

In response to a request to assess House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Carter said he's prepared to speak truth to power. Pelosi has fought hard for working families and health care.

"When you fight hard, you get hurt," he said, as someone in the audience heckled him saying, "Answer the question."

"I will," he replied, apparently repeating that perhaps Pelosi has been too much of a lightning rod. "I've taken a lot of heat from Democrats for it."

Carter was supported during the debate when he spoke up for veterans' services. "Hooah," was the word from the audience. It's alternately a battle cry, or statement of agreement.

Black acknowledged that Carter has asked Pelosi to resign, but the state senator also quoted Carter as saying that if Pelosi was the only candidate for speaker, then he'd vote for her.

Asked if they favored a proposal to amend the 14th Amendment to keep children of illegal immigrants from becoming citizens at birth: Carter said that's not the way to solve the problem - deal with employers; and Black said a constitutional amendment won't work, so the borders must be secured.

The candidates were asked about controversy over mosques in Tennessee and in New York City, Muslims and the observation that the issue will recede after the election.

"I will fight anything like Sharia Law [seen as God's law and more authoritative than a nation's law] that would usurp our laws," Black said.

Carter said he'd prefer to focus on the economy and asked those present if they'd want their religion examined as closely as Muslims' beliefs have been scrutinized.

The debate in Gallatin between Black and Carter was the only debate during the campaign to represent Tennessee's 6th Congressional District.