Tennessee’s Diane Black is one of only two freshman Republicans tapped to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee when the new Congress convenes. Democrats are already crying foul over the appointment.
Republican leaders promised to give newly elected lawmakers more influence. And Black’s appointment shows they’re following through.
“You can ask but you are going to be placed wherever they would like to have you or where they feel your talent best fits.”
That was Representative-elect Black during new-member orientation last month when she was lobbying for the post. Lawmakers usually wait years for a seat on Ways and Means. It’s the oldest committee in Congress and charged with writing tax laws. It also deals with top issues like Social Security and Medicare.
“It is, of course, where health care comes through and that is one place where I think I can best use my talent.”
Black has worked as a registered nurse. But it’s her views on Social Security that are giving Democrats ammunition. One recent press release called her a “fox in the henhouse.” It refers to a Tea Party questionnaire where Black wrote she’d like to privatize Social Security.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Black says the representative-elect feels social security is a contract with the nation’s seniors, but that the Tea Party survey asked about the future of the entitlement program. As for that, Black is willing to consider privatization “for the younger generation” and believes to ensure social security’s solvency “private accounts should be part of the equation.”
Retiring Congressman John Tanner currently sits on the Ways and Means committee. Black’s appointment means Tennessee will not lose a voice on the influential panel.
Click here to see the Wilson County Tea Party’s candidate questionnaire. Black’s response to the social security question is on page four.