Peggy Barnett was born in Sevierville, where she attended Galtinburg Pittman High School. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner, graduating from East Tennessee Baptist Hospital School of Nursing in 1980. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from ETSU in 2001 and ETSU Graduate Studies MSN in 2002.

Peggy is a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (my first concern, see “MADD as Neo-Prohibitionists? Who Knew?”), National Parks Conservation Association, a 2006 Republican National Committee member, National Rifle Association, Tennessee Nurses Association, and a member of American Nurses Association. Peggy was a 1993 recipient of an Outstanding Service Award from Methodist Medical Center, and 2002 Masters Degree Nursing Deans Award.

Peggy is married to Anthony Barnett and proud mother of Candace, Rocky, and Glen.

The two things I noticed about Peggy’s opening statement were her mention of healthcare and marriage – two areas in which the government has absolutely no business interfering (just to clarify for those of you who are not regular readers…no, I do not support gay marriage. I don’t believe that government should be in the business of recognizing ANY marriage, heterosexual or otherwise. This is a matter for the church, not the government.)

Question 1: With a great deal of publicity lately, do you believe the Fair Tax is superior to the present tax code?

Barnett gave, by far, the best explanation of the Fair Tax. It was clear she had done her homework, as she went over the top reasons to support the Fair Tax with brilliant clarity. Peggy was the only candidate who said definitively that she would vote in favor of the Fair Tax.

Question 2: Should abortion be a Federal or States Rights issue?

Barnett believes abortion should be a Federal issue in order to avoid trafficking. She supports either a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw abortion or a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. She offered one of the better arguments against abortion – passionate and using her experience as a nurse. Barnett mentioned the emotional turmoil that mothers who choose abortion face, which is something that many seem to forget. She also spoke of the children that we have lost in this country – children that may have found the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s.

Question 3: Do you believe it is the Federal Government’s responsibility to bail out individual states after every natural disaster?

Barnett feels that, yes, the Federal Government should bail out states after natural disasters, but she feels there should be a limit on giving. Her reasoning for this was lacking, other than that she felt compassion is important (as did other candidates). She also mentioned that there should be tax breaks for those who help after natural disasters (she specifically mentioned churches, although churches don’t pay taxes). This contradicted her support of the Fair Tax, which would eliminate all tax loopholes, including “breaks” for charity work. I appreciate that she’s a nice person, but “compassionate conservatism” is oftentimes not constitutional.

Question 4: Do you believe the Federal Government should play a role and mandate the oil companies on a universal scale, to use the EA85 version of ethanol?

Like everyone else, Barnett said that she felt that fuel should be allowed to work within the free market, without government mandates. She did say that she felt that the government should subsidize research and development (the problem here is that, in many instances, environmental policy stands in the way…but she made no mention of this.) Barnett believes that, for immediate relief, the Federal Government should remove the Federal Gas Tax (again, with no mention of those who would support tax increases elsewhere to make up the difference). She agreed with the other candidates that we need a comprehensive energy policy.

Question 5: Why is the health care insurance industry guaranteed a profit by the Federal Government in a free market system?

Other candidates questioned the truth of the government “guaranteeing a profit” to insurance companies. Barnett asserted that the government does, in fact, subsidize the insurance industry, therefore, guaranteeing them a profit, citing her experience in the health care field. Here is where Barnett and I really parted ways…she believes, first of all, that the government should play some role in providing “Freedom of Conscious” health insurance, allowing those who are opposed to certain medical procedures to opt out of paying for them through their premiums. Thus, contradicting herself in her earlier statement that health insurance, like the fuel industry, should be allowed to work within the free market system. She also said that, while competition is good (referring to other candidate’s assertions that competition is the answer for lowering health care costs), those who can’t afford health care should be compensated by the government. I think Barnett forgot that staple conservative belief that charity should take over care of the poor rather than the government (and with lesser government control, charity becomes a real possibility.)

Question 6: Title 6 states that “No Person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, or national origin.” The Supreme Court has held that undocumented aliens are considered “Persons” under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Therefore the assumption has been applied by the Courts, Congress, and State Governments that undocumented aliens have the same rights to all Federal assistance programs as citizens do. What would you do about amending Title 6 to restrict services to citizens only?

Barnett believes the answer is to change “No Person” to “No Citizen” (see Dan Smith’s response for why this is not an adequate solution). This was the answer given by most candidates, so Barnett went on to discuss alternative reasons why illegal immigration is a problem. She mentioned the spread of diseases such as TB that are not regulated in other countries, and the likelihood of these illnesses entering our country through illegal aliens. Barnett said that illegals should not be allowed to “pull” from our healthcare resources. Interestingly, she then insulted lawyers and said that there need to be more nurses in Congress (hmmm….).