Fincher ready for action, not words
Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 9:11 pm
By: Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
It’s simple for Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee’s Eighth District: Actions speak louder than words.
In a phone call to The Messenger shortly after Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Fincher said he was optimistic that President Obama realizes the deficit is the key problem for the country.
“I think he understands that, but arriving at the solution will be the tricky part,” he said. “We can accomplish this, but we must make hard decisions and do it together. I’m hoping this was not just 2012 campaigning, because it’s very serious with me.
“We’re going to keep moving forward just as we promised the people of the Eighth District we would and we’re going to return the House of Representatives to the people.”
The new congressman, a farmer and gospel singer from Frog Jump who described his first up-close-and-personal view of a State of the Union address as “an awesome experience with the history and the feeling that was there,” said he heard a lot of things he had heard before in the speech, but he thought the president did a good job addressing the nation.
“Still, as my grandfather used to say, the proof is in the pudding,” he added.
Fincher’s location within the Tennessee delegation Tuesday night included a seat near conservative veteran Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R) from the Seventh District, Congressman Diane Black (R) from the Sixth District and Congressman John Duncan (R) of the Second District.
Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen of Memphis, who made news in the past few days by verbally attacking Republicans for their comments on the healthcare law, was seated about four rows in front of Fincher, he said. Cohen and Congressman Jim Cooper of the Fifth District are the only Democrats Tennesseans sent to Congress in November.
In thinking back over the speech, Fincher expressed concern over the president’s pointed remarks that seemed to place banks and oil companies on an enemies list.
“My philosophy is the federal government is not the answer in job creation,” he said. “When you start singling out companies or industries — even when there is no doubt there are issues to deal with in different businesses and industries — you have to be really careful. What makes our country great is the free market. If you punish job creators, we will move in the wrong direction again.
“Job growth won’t occur with more regulation and backbreaking legislation that stifles job growth. So that is a little troubling. At the same time, he’s said he wants to drop the corporate tax rate. So there’s a lot out there.”
Fincher said he had no input in the GOP response delivered by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. In fact, he was sacrificing an opportunity to even hear the televised speech by speaking to the people of the Eighth District through contact with local media instead.
That contact, he explained, is a part of the job description he has written for himself. “I’m here to serve. My family is still at home and I’m back in Frog Jump every weekend to be with them and to be in my local church.
But when I’m in Washington, I’m focused on what I have to do,” he said.
Fincher is one of 19 GOP and two Democrat freshman members of the House of Representatives who are literally living at the office when they are in Washington.
“I’m camping out in my office,” he explained. “And I’m enjoying it. I didn’t know how I would like it, but it’s fine. I’ve been so busy and I come in late every night. I have a sofa sleeper in the office and there’s a gym right under the office building.”
Fincher said efforts to set up his offices throughout the Eighth District are continuing.
His new office in Dyersburg should be ready for staff to use soon and there are also offices in Jackson and Dickson, with the possibility of a couple more.
“We want people to reach out and let us know what projects and issues concern them. And we will get back to them,” he vowed. “The folks in the north part of the district are very important to me. It’s an honor to be serving them.”
Fincher said there is a GOP commitment to create jobs and get the economy moving and that is what he wants to focus on first. “There are some serious challenges ahead with the deficit and healthcare reform,” he said. Just last week, Republicans voted to repeal the president’s signature healthcare bill in the House of Representatives. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D) has said no such bill will pass in the Senate, which is still controlled by his party.
“The people who elected us in November want answers to the problems we face,” Fincher said. “I think they are tired of the same rhetoric and the smoke and mirrors and back room deals and the pork they see on the back side of bills. We’re spending billions of dollars their children will pay for, so they want serious answers and a simple approach that people can grasp.
“Transparency and accountability — those are the things that have impressed me in this Congress. The members are trying to make it transparent and accountable and that will help us move forward as a country. I’ll be starting a listening tour myself next week and I know I will get input that is important,” said Fincher, who stresses his awareness that the district includes not only GOP voters but Democrats and Independents, as well.
The congressman will be in Union City Tuesday and The Messenger will provide additional details about his appearance over the next few days.
Quizzed on whether he heard things in the speech that raised questions for him, the freshman congressman said there was really nothing he would point to. “The president mentioned earmarks, but we’ve heard that before and Republicans have vowed not to accept them into a bill anyway, so that isn’t even an issue with us,” he said.
“I think we’re optimistic but we’re also cautious because we know we have to deliver. Before the election in November, the president was clearly on a different course. Now he’s moving toward the center and we are moving toward what the people want.”
On the issue of infrastructure spending, Fincher said he recognizes the importance to the Eighth District of I-69 construction, the river port in Lake County and the mega-site in Haywood County. “But you have to be careful. I think we will see infrastructure spending move on, but at the same time, where we have waste and fraud and abuse in those projects, we must tone it down. Our deficit is out of control and we’ve got to tighten things up and be more efficient,” he said.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted by e-mail at glenda email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.26.11