Carolyn McCarthy shown as a Democratic incumbent candidate for the...

Carolyn McCarthy shown as a Democratic incumbent candidate for the 4th Congressional District. (July 31, 2012) Credit: James Escher

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy is Long Island's Mrs. Smith, as in Mrs. Smith goes to Washington.

A registered nurse, she was catapulted into public life by tragedy: A husband killed and a son grievously wounded in a mass shooting on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993. McCarthy, 68, of Mineola, has grown beyond the gun control issue that prompted her first run for office in 1996, although it remains an important legislative passion. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee she's delved into the arcane but critical issues of financial services regulation and supported creation of the populist Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Republican Fran Becker, 60, a financial planner from Lynbrook, is her opponent this year, as he was in 2010. The Nassau County legislator is a veteran public servant who knows the district well. He and McCarthy offer voters a clear choice.

She supports the Dodd-Frank law's post-crisis regulation of Wall Street, the Affordable Care Act and extending the Bush tax cuts, but only for individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples less than $250,000. She favors tax reform that would lower rates, limit deductions and raise revenue. She opposes converting Medicare into a premium support plan, or funding Medicaid via block grants to the states.

Becker has the opposite views. He would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and also Dodd-Frank, which he said inhibits economic growth. He wants the Bush tax cuts extended for all and favors tax reform, but not structured to raise additional revenue. He supports Medicare premium support, Medicaid block grants and limiting the programs' benefits for the affluent.

McCarthy's mind meld with the middle class is a valuable perspective in the halls of power in Washington. Newsday endorses McCarthy.

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