Not surprisingly, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is not a fan of common core, Obamacare or what he labels as over-reaching government regulatory measures.
Styling himself a constitutionalist, the Chattanooga Republican spoke to students at both Scott High School and Oneida High School Friday afternoon. The school assemblies were part of Fleischmann’s afternoon visit to Scott County, where he also met with local officials and lunched at Fireside Restaurant in Huntsville.
At both schools, Fleischmann spoke briefly, then opened the floor to questions from students. And students did not hold back, tossing questions covering just about every angle of the political spectrum.
At Oneida, one student asked Fleischmann’s opinion on common core, the much-debated new educational requirements that have pitted Tennessee’s Republican-led General Assembly against the state’s Republican governor in a rift that demonstrates just how divisive the issue is.
Fleischmann said he is “not in favor” of common core.
“As a constitutionalist, I want to keep the federal government as far away from education as possible,” he said. “I want school boards and people right here to make decisions that impact education, not bureaucrats in Washington.
“Keep control with the parents, keep it with the teachers,” Fleischmann continued. “When the federal government gets involved, they screw it up.”
On the issue of Obamacare, Fleischmann said he has voted between 40 and 60 times in Congress to repeal the law or parts of it, calling it a drain on the American economy.
“We need health care reform,” Fleischmann said. “I just don’t think we needed Obamacare.
“The president is sadly picking and choosing which parts of the law to implement and which parts to delay,” he added, saying that Obamacare is “taking over one-sixth of the American economy and causing a big mess.”
One student posed a question about what Fleischmann was doing to help improve the local economy, as Scott County’s unemployment rate remains the highest in Tennessee.
Fleischmann said that he is “working very hard in Washington,” while state Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, who joined Fleischmann for his visit, is working at the state level.
“It takes everyone working together,” he said, touting a jobs plan that he introduced in Congress — saying he is the only member of Congress to put forth a jobs plan.
Fleischmann’s vision for the economy focuses on energy exploration, with fewer regulatory controls at the federal level, along with tax reform.
“There is an abundance of coal and gas here (in Scott County),” he said. “We should explore it.”
On tort reform and regulatory reform, Fleischmann said there are agencies in place that were created by the federal government that serve no purpose other than to stifle small businesses.
“These agencies come in and smother businesses with regulations,” he said. “The answer is to get the federal government out of the way.”
Fleischmann is in his second term after replacing fellow Chattanooga Republican Zach Wamp when Wamp left Congress to unsuccessfully seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2010.
In August, Fleischmann will attempt to defend his seat in a primary challenge from Wamp’s son, Weston Wamp. The younger Wamp also sought the Republican nomination for his father’s former seat in the 2012 election.
Dairy mogul Scotty Mayfield, another Republican candidate in that 2012 primary, recently endorsed Fleischmann.