A Tennessean story over the weekend spotlighted the candidacy of Jeff Hartline, one of 11 Republicans vying in the upcoming August primary for the right to challenge 5th District incumbent Jim Cooper. Hartline gets the celebrity treatment over the other 10 GOPtimists because, according to Nate Rau's story, he has raised over $130,000 and is on the way to $250,000 by the end of this month.
Rau alludes to Hartline's ideology, writing that the candidate "concedes the majority of Davidson County voters might not share his socially conservative views." This is understatement as high art. In fact, to judge by Hartline's web site and blog, the dude is a far-right true believer with some downright scary ideas that are, fortunately, unlikely to appeal to many voters in the 5th District.
Let's sample the world according to Jeff Hartline.
Believing Social Security to be the only federal entitlement program worth keeping (with "radical revisions" he neglects to identify), Hartline's apparently favors killing Medicare and Medicaid: "The annual escalation in demands and additions of more entitlements (Medicare Prescriptions, National Health Insurance, etc) places an unreasonable financial burden on current and succeeding generations. ... I will work to begin the process of revising these entitlement programs. Specifically, Social Security must undergo radical revisions immediately or risk insolvency. The remaining programs must be gradually moved to the States individually." So there should be 50 different Medicare systems administered by 50 states? Yeah, that makes sense.
Hartline seems to be one of those "tenthers" who see no role for the federal government in health care or education and would therefore dismantle huge swaths of the federal government on imagined constitutional grounds: "I will immediately propose a mandatory freeze in additional hiring of federal employees and a dedicated reduction in their number during the first two years I serve the District. We will eliminate unconstitutional federal programs and agencies." Like most slash-and-burn anti-government zealots, he neglects to enumerate which programs and agencies he'd ax.
No federal role in education: "I would initiate legislation to eliminate the Department of Education, reduce appropriate Federal taxation, and return the responsibility of education where it belongs, the individual States." Yeah, states like Tennessee show how well that would work.
On health care philosophically: "Healthcare is not a right granted by the constitution, but a privilege provided through a free market. It is in the public interest that good quality healthcare be available, but responsible citizens should not be forced by the Federal Government to pay for the healthcare of anyone." So in other words, kill Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA system? Because otherwise you are taxing citizens (responsible and otherwise) to pay for healthcare.
He would apparently drop the requirement that hospital emergency rooms treat anyone who needs care: "Stop requiring hospitals to spend huge sums of money caring for irresponsible people. It is unfair to allow individuals to ignore health coverage while requiring hospitals and physicians to lose millions caring for these same irresponsible people. If one is free to avoid health insurance, providers should be free to refuse care." Especially immigrants: "Stop providing health care to people who are not citizens unless they have health insurance."
Hartline sees the federal government's response to recession, including economic stimulus legislation, as "a federal seizure of individual liberties and continued confiscation of individual wealth without citizen consent." Yikes!
Drill baby drill, nuke baby nuke: "I will initiate a plan to increase domestic oil and natural gas production, build additional refineries, and increase nuclear plant construction."
Hartline is a confirmed climate-change denialist who apparently finds science inconvenient: "Under the guise of 'scientific consensus', they have urged us to reverse hundreds of years of economic progress and retreat to 'monarch-controlled' energy mandates. Why? Because we are killing the planet. Really? The best laid plans of bureaucrats have been exposed as myth. The earth is not warming because of anything man is doing."
Hartline is so devoted to dismantling the federal government that he thinks business would be better off dealing with 50 different regulatory schemes: "Eliminate useless federal regulations and remand control of business to the individual states."
On abortion and related matters: "I would support legislation to defend human life against secularist attempts to treat it with contempt and oppose any legislation to harm human life." No surprise here — he's rigidly anti-abortion as you'd expect — but the "secularist attempts to treat [human life] with contempt" is certainly an odd formulation.
On foreign policy generally, Hartline is an unreconstructed apologist for global military adventurism: "As the lone Superpower, we have acted responsibly for good in the world, rather than oppress other nations."
On immigration, he appears to think that internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was a good idea. At least that's the sense I get from this post on his blog. He is also unfazed by Arizona's new immigration law: "I am personally proud of Governor Brewer and commend her for bringing the issue back into the spotlight." He adds, "Don’t blame Governor Brewer. We shouldn’t be berating Arizona."
Commenting on Israel's recent Gaza troubles, Hartline characterizes President Obama's reaction as illustrating "the bias that Obama has against the Jewish people and his favor toward their enemies."
Perhaps in an election year with anti-incumbent currents Jim Cooper could be vulnerable to a challenge from a well-funded moderate Republican. Jeff Hartline, a Tea Party-esque extremist, is not that challenger.