U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann used an eight-minute "Facebook town hall" video to rail against regulations and President Barack Obama, reinforcing Republican talking points along the way.
"Unfortunately, the president's policies have been a failure. ... He believes in the public sector; I believe in the private sector," Fleischmann said as a link to his oil-and-gas industry-backed jobs plan, "Less Government, More Jobs," scrolled across the screen.
Last week, Fleischmann's 1,642 Facebook friends were asked to submit policy queries online. Leslie Bell, whose online profile says she's from Signal Mountain, posed one of about 10 questions the Chattanooga congressman received: "What regulations should we cut?"
After reading her question off a laptop, Fleischmann looked into the camera and began talking about a past repeal of a particular section of Obama's health care reform bill.
He did not explain the section to viewers, only calling it the "1099 repeal, which was successful." Under the section, which was included as a revenue-boosting measure within the health care reform bill, companies would have had to report more transactions to the Internal Revenue Service.
"It was an undue burden on small businesses," Fleischmann said. "We got rid of that. It was going to make businesses have to comply with huge, huge costs. Small businesses and midsize businesses. We got rid of that, and that was a bad regulation, and it's gone."
Fleischmann did not propose any new regulations he would like to abolish, instead listing other past efforts at deregulation.
Several questions were left unanswered:
• Will you endorse Herman Cain?
• Where do you stand on the legalization and regulation of online poker?
• Will you run for president?
• Now that [Osama] Bin Laden has been killed, what do you see as our military goals in Afghanistan and how do they benefit the U.S.?
A number of Fleischmann's Facebook friends thanked the congressman for connecting with them online.
"Chuck, thank you for sharing and standing with conservative values while seeking improved solutions," wrote Ralph Dudley.
Others weren't so pleased.
"Sounds like another staged event," wrote George Cudabac.
Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6610.
Chris Carroll covers federal politics for the Times Free Press. A Chattanooga native, he went to Red Bank High School and graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University. Chris investigated violent crime, municipal government and hospitals before taking the political beat. For tornado coverage, he and Pam Sohn won a first-place Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors deadline reporting award. In 2010, Chris won the Golden Press Card Award of Merit and another deadline reporting ...