This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday released the results of his “top-to-bottom” review of state government, putting out a 123-page report detailing changes to 23 state departments. “Tennesseans expect us to do more with less,” Haslam said. “Through this comprehensive review, our departments are taking an important step toward meeting that goal by establishing a culture of customer service, efficiency and effectiveness.” Haslam released the review with little fanfare. His office posted the report on one of his websites, forward.tn.gov, and issued a letter.
Over the past year, each commissioner of state government’s 22 departments conducted a top to bottom review to thoroughly analyze operational and organizational efficiency. I tasked each of them to examine his/her department as if starting from scratch by challenging the current structure and functions and by asking: “Is this department focused appropriately to accomplish its core mission?” State government’s role is to provide services that taxpayers can’t get on their own. I believe the governor’s job is to make sure we’re providing those services in the most customer-friendly way and at the lowest cost to you, the taxpayer.
Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson issued a report Wednesday favoring reforms to the state’s civil service system, weighing in at a time when Gov. Bill Haslam’s overhaul plan has encountered criticism. The Division of State Audit, the branch of the comptroller’s office that reviews state government, said the 1939 civil service system is “fundamentally flawed” because of the limits it places on managers when hiring and firing. The report says the system cannot be fixed without changing state law. “The civil service system was designed to meet the needs of Tennessee coming out of the Great Depression,” Wilson said in a statement that accompanied the report.
A new report from the State Comptroller says the hiring system for Tennessee government is unfair and outdated. The report comes as Governor Bill Haslam is pushing for changes. The Comptroller’s office has been studying at the state’s Civil Service system for years. Former Governor Phil Bredsen’s administration made some tweaks based on that research. But the report released today says the system needs to be scrapped. In particular–the use of a register. Applicants are scored based on their experience and education. That sounds great in theory, but Audit Director Art Hayes says it can cause headaches for state agencies.
A new audit is calling the way Tennessee hires and promotes employees a system that’s completely broken. Many job seekers have reported experiences where they apply for a state job, then never hear anything about it. Now, the director of the state audit division says there is a reason for it and calls this audit the most important report the office has ever done. And it is coming at a time when the governor is trying to change the system. The state of Tennessee has dozens of jobs listed on its human resources website, but every application for those civil service jobs go into what auditors call “the funnel.”
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he expects lawmakers to pass a bill this year to force businesses to allow workers to store firearms in vehicles parked on company lots, though he doesn’t expect the measure to be as broad as originally introduced in the Legislature. Haslam told reporters after a speech to the Tennessee Hospital Association on Wednesday that his administration is hoping to find a balance between gun rights and property rights that will be acceptable to the competing positions of Second Amendment advocates and business associations.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters Wednesday that he expects to see “guns in parking lots” legislation on his desk this session, though he would like to see it altered before it gets there. A bill brought by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, would require employers and landowners to allow workers to store legally owned firearms in their cars on company parking lots. The bill would apply to private businesses as well as public institutions and would cover all gun owners, as opposed to just those with handgun carry permits. Haslam said the bill, as currently written, is too broad, and that he’s working to find a balance between the concerns of gun rights advocates and business associations. He did not say, however, what specific changes he’d like to see made to the legislation.
Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday he expects the General Assembly will pass a narrower version of a proposal to override employers’ ability to stop their workers from storing guns in locked vehicles on company parking lots. The Republican governor told reporters he was concerned about the two original bills brought by the National Rifle Association and hopes to broker an agreement. “We’re working through the specifics of what that might look like,” Haslam said. “We’re trying to balance the interests of business with those folks who would like to carry and to keep the gun locked in their car. My sense is there will be a bill that makes it through.” The bill would apply to all gun owners, not just Tennesseans with state-issued handgun-carry permits who undergo criminal background checks and required training.
A local shooting range and gun shop says it sees both sides of a bill that would force companies to allow employees to keep guns in their car in company lots. Wednesday, Gov. Bill Haslam said he expects lawmakers to pass the bill this year. Haslam said he’s hoping to find a balance between gun rights and property rights. Master Instructor Mark Coffey at the Coal Creek Armory in West Knoxville says the bill doesn’t violate the “don’t bring your gun to work” policy, but does give people with a carry permit the opportunity to carry their gun to and from work. “Each business has the right to say they don’t want firearms on the premises, but again the permit does give you the legal right to carry a weapon,” explained Coffey.
Construction set to begin on Antioch site this summer HCA will invest more than $200 million to build a new data center in Antioch and upgrade its technology as part of an expansion that will create 155 jobs over five years, state and city officials said Wednesday. The Nashville-based hospital chain expects to start building the 96,000-square-foot data center this summer on 55 acres of vacant land that it bought for $2.2 million four months ago. When the work is done by the end of next year, HCA plans to move a 24/7, 70-employee regional data center there, which now operates from a single floor in an office building at the company’s Nashville corporate campus. “We’re continuing to expand to meet (our) emerging current information technology needs,” said Ed Fishbough, HCA spokesman.
Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America announced plans Wednesday to build a new data center in Davidson County, creating 155 new jobs over a five-year period. The new center will be built at The Crossings in Antioch and will represent a total investment of more than $200 million. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean called it “a big deal, especially for the southeast part of Davidson County.” The area has seen a glut of vacant storefronts and office buildings in the past decade, including the decline of the once-thriving Hickory Hollow Mall. “A data center in Nashville is something we have worked hard to get more of and Nashville has been identified as one of the best sites in the country for data centers,” Mayor Dean said.
HCA’s announcement today of a new $200 million data center in Antioch has local officials and industry followers buzzing about the positive developments it could bring to the community. The data center is expected to bring 155 new jobs to the area over the next five years, making Nashville a place to be for tech workers, said Liza Lowery Massey, president and CEO of the Nashville Tech Council. “More expansion means more people will see Nashville as a place to go for a tech job,” said Massey. The Tech Council recently reported that Nashville area companies have a combined 1,000 or so tech job openings. “It just adds to the work we’re doing,” Massey said, “but we’re happy about this. We are starting to be seen as a community that isn’t just music and health care.”
Nashville-based HCA announced plans Wednesday to build a new data center in Antioch. The company expects to create more than 150 new IT jobs over the next five years. HCA values its total investment at $200 million. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean says in a statement that he’s “pleased” the hospital chain chose to build in Southeast Davidson County. The Hickory Hollow area has seen a recent exodus of retail businesses. With its West End headquarters and area hospitals, HCA is already the second largest employer in the region, according to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Worldwide, the company has nearly 200,000 people on its payroll.
Tennessee Secretary of State Tré Hargett’s office spent more than $42,000 this month to send letters cautioning 118,268 older Tennessee voters that they must have government-issued photo identification to vote in the March 6 primary. “Dear Voter,” Hargett says in letters mailed out as early voting in presidential primaries began Feb. 15. “The Tennessee General Assembly has adopted a new law regarding identification needed to vote beginning with the 2012 election cycle. “When you vote in person, either during early voting or on Election Day, you must present identification which contains your name and photo,” wrote Hargett, a Republican who backed the law.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services reports receiving 2,500 calls Tuesday to a special hotline. The phone line was to request an application to participate in the “standard spend down waiver” for TennCare. The waiver is targeted to individuals who have very low incomes or very high medical bills. It is aimed at a specific group of adults: aged, blind, disabled or the relative caretaker of a Medicaid-eligible child. “Spend down” refers to the threshold to qualify. The 2,500 callers will now be screened. The hotline has since been closed.
A Knox County woman is charged with fraud for using TennCare to pay for bogus pain pill prescriptions in Anderson County. The Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of 40-year-old Bobbi J. Hartsfield. Hartsfield is charged with three counts of TennCare fraud and three counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. They say she used fraudulent prescriptions at a pharmacy for the painkiller Hydrocodone and used TennCare to pay for the forged prescriptions. “We’re working with local police and medical providers to help stop this criminal activity,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said.
City officials approved Tuesday a project that will replace about 100 private sewer lines — a plan prompted by a consent order issued by the state to help correct the city’s struggling wastewater system. Between the ailing wastewater treatment plant and failing lagoon system, Mt. Pleasant racked up 532 violations of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation wastewater permit requirements from April 2008-2010. The violations included, but were not limited to, 13 overflows of raw sewage and several violations for surpassing legal levels of cyanide, chlorine and nitrogen ammonia discharge into “waters of the state,” according to the order.
Knox County seniors, who pay more Hall Income Tax than any other county in the state, may get a substantial tax break this legislative session. Gov. Bill Haslam was initially reluctant to cut taxes given the state of the state’s economy and the fragility of the state budget. But he signed on to the idea of cutting the inheritance tax, phasing it in over a period of years. Any estate under $5 million would be exempt from the tax. Haslam included the plan in the budget he sent to the Legislature, but he flagged his Republican colleagues’ request to also abolish the Hall Income Tax. But the House Republicans, given that it is an election year, are still enthused about cutting taxes.
A revised version of Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to close access to “due diligence” information used in deciding whether companies should get economic development grants makes no specific reference to keeping ownership details open to the public. A Senate vote on the Republican governor’s bill had been delayed until Thursday because of vocal concerns raised by Democratic Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden that keeping ownership details secret could lead to cronyism and corruption.
A newly unveiled amendment to a controversial bill that keeps permanently secret the names of business owners getting taxpayer cash and other incentives still allows the state to keep the owners’ names secret. The bill, sought by Gov. Bill Haslam’s Economic Commissioner Bill Hagerty, is set for floor votes in both the House and Senate this morning. After the secrecy bill ran into stiff opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, Hagerty’s Department of Economic and Community Development drafted a “compromise” amendment released late Wednesday. The amendment, which would replace the original bill, allows public release of the name of the company or business receiving the taxpayer money, as well as the amount received and the number of jobs to be created and the location.
A proposal aimed at stopping Occupy Nashville protesters from staying overnight at the Capitol complex is scheduled for the Senate floor on Thursday. Protesters have camped at the plaza since early October. At one time there were as many as 60 tents, but that number is now less than half, mainly because of the proposed legislation. The measure, which passed the House 70-26 last week, would make it a misdemeanor to lay down “bedding for the purpose of sleeping.” It refers to items associated with camping. Under the legislation, violators would be fined as much as $2,500 and face up to nearly a year in jail, which opponents say is excessive. Supporters say the bill is necessary because of criminal activity and lewd behavior at the encampment.
A bill that would move the supervision of felons on probation or parole to the state’s Correction Department passed a House subcommittee Wednesday. The bill, which has passed two House committees and the full Senate, will have to pass the Finance Committee before going to the full House. The legislation would shift the responsibilities of managing those on parole, probation, or community supervision from the state’s Board of Probation and Parole to the state Department of Correction. The bill would make the two departments and the corrections process more efficient, said Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield. Ideally, it would also improve public safety and lower recidivism, or the amount of crime from repeat offenders.
A Tennessee film group says it will work to lure production companies to the Volunteer State, even if some pro-Hollywood legislation in the state legislature fails. The Association for the Future of Film and Television in Tennessee (AFFT) is supporting two bills presented by Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. Steve McManus. Under their legislation, a production shot in Tennessee would be eligible for tax credits equal to 20 percent of its expenses if the company making it spends a minimum of $500,000. Juanell Walker is President-Elect of Tennessee’s AFFT division; she lives in East Tennessee. She said the state has lost multiple films to border states like Georgia who offer better tax incentives.
A Maryville mom and activist says amendments to a bill banning discussion of homosexuality in the classroom for grades K-8, doesn’t make it any more attractive. Two lawmakers, including Knoxville Republican Bill Dunn, have introduced amendments to the so called Don’t Say Gay bill specifying that school nurses, teachers and counselors can answer questions from students about homosexuality. Rebecca Lucas, president of the Maryville chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), says the bill is un-necessary and’ even with the change, sends the wrong message. “I don’t know any teacher who wants to teach homosexuality,” Lucas said. “I don’t know a teacher who wants to teach sex.”
The dislocations caused by the most recent legislative redistricting continue to proliferate. Most recently, John DeBerry, a Democrat who for several years has represented District 90 in the state House of Representatives, may have found his revised contours uncomfortable both for himself and for significant numbers of his new constituents. DeBerry’s south-central Memphis district remains, as before, reliably Democratic, but it has expanded eastward from a largely African-American area, religious and working-class in nature, into several Midtown neighborhoods that contain a population that is relatively whiter, more middle class, and decidedly secular-minded.
Groups under the umbrella of Tennessee Citizen Action have filed petitions they say contain six thousand names of persons who want the Photo Voter ID law overturned. Speakers for an ad hoc group called “No Barriers to the Ballot Box” say the state law, passed last year, to require a photo ID in order to vote is part of a national campaign to discourage voters from vulnerable communities – including disabled folks and senior citizens. Olivia Cloud is a reverend and president of the Nashville alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. She says her sorority began in 1913 by marching for women’s suffrage – although as black women they had to march in the back of the parade.
Red light cameras have become very popular across Middle Tennessee and the country. But the question on whether or not they are an effective way to prevent accidents depends on which study you read or who you ask. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras do help reduce fatal accidents at red lights, but a new study from researchers at the University of South Florida reports the opposite. Tennessee is one of about 25 states that use red light cameras, acording to IIHS. “I have a good opinion view about the red light cameras as a police officer, because they are out there 24/7 on those intersections, and I can’t be at an intersection 24/7,” Sgt. Tyler Chandler with the Mt. Juliet Police Department.
Constituents study options after arrest A Metro councilman might have to face voters again much sooner than he was expecting just a week ago. A group of residents in Nashville’s District 4 is exploring the possibility of recalling Councilman Brady Banks after his Feb. 16 arrest on a misdemeanor charge of patronizing prostitution, a leader of the group said Wednesday. Connie Hunter said “18 to 20” people have started organizing themselves for a possible recall effort. “It’s only because it doesn’t look like he’ll step down willingly,” Hunter said. Banks, who was elected last summer, briefly attended Tuesday’s council meeting, leaving before it was over without answering questions about his arrest at a MetroCenter hotel.
18-cent levy OK’d last year, not used The Memphis City Council plans to consider using a one-time, 18-cent property-tax assessment to cover an estimated $17 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year. The council approved the 18-cent assessment in June to pay off a debt to Memphis City Schools incurred in 2008, but the tax wasn’t levied. City officials told council members Tuesday that the city faces a deficit for the current year, though the Wharton administration proposed and the council approved a one-time, $6.2 million bonus package for employees in December. At the time, city Finance Director Roland McElrath said the bonus was plausible because a $6 million surplus had been discovered.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press and WRCB-TV wrote a letter to local and state education officials Wednesday about concerns over a local meeting that should have been open to the public. Both news organizations sent reporters to a meeting at the Chattanooga Convention Center where Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman was to talk with Hamilton County Board of Education members about grant applications for a program to turn around struggling schools. Seven board members were at the meeting, as well as several members from the public. However, the meeting, described as a board work session in an email to the media, was closed to others.
News department managers from WRCB-TV and the Chattanooga Times Free Press have sent a letter to state and local officials concerning what they believe to be a violation of Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act. The dispute stems from an incident on February 16 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Shortly after State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman addressed the Downtown Rotary Club, he held a meeting with Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith, seven School Board members and other school district employees and community leaders. The topic of the meeting was a proposal known as the “Innovation Zone,” which allows the state’s largest school districts to apply for grant money for underperforming schools.
The Knox County clerk’s new satellite office opened three weeks ago, but officials celebrated Wednesday, touting the new money-saving digs that opened across the street from their old location at the Knoxville Center mall. “There’s an easier in-and-out here, and we’ve received a lot of positive response so far from the public,” said County Clerk Foster Arnett Jr. In late January, Arnett moved the office across the street to the old Markman’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry at 3010 South Mall Road. The office, which opened Feb. 1, will keep the same Monday through Saturday operating hours.
Republican governors are caught between a rock and a hard place as they grapple with how to handle the state-based insurance marketplaces required by the health care reform law. The Obama administration announced Wednesday that 10 states will be getting federal grants to lay the groundwork for these exchanges — four of the states have Republican governors, who have apparently decided to bite the bullet and proceed with building them. Here’s the predicament: The Affordable Care Act gives states the option to set up their own exchange by 2014 — essentially a regulated marketplace where consumers can pool together to buy insurance plans that must provide a package of essential benefits.
Groups of voters will gather this week in Knoxville to show their support for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Organizers says groups will wave signs and hand out information on Santorum at busy intersections throughout Knoxville. On Friday, the groups will gather from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the 640 office building in Fountain City and at the intersection of Northshore Drive and Kingston Pike. On Saturday, Santorum supporters will gather from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the intersections of Clinton Highway and Merchants Drive as well as Campbell Station Road and Parkside Drive.
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will lead a roundtable discussion of health care and President Barack Obama’s controversial reform efforts in Nashville on Monday, his campaign said Wednesday. The event will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, 211 Commerce St. Susan Meyers, a spokeswoman for Gingrich’s campaign, said it will be open to the public but will not be a town hall meeting. Gingrich founded the Center for Health Transformation in 2003 as a consulting firm “to focus on health-related initiatives like improved health care technology, Medicare changes and Obama’s health care overhaul,” according to a recent Associated Press story.
No state helped the gambling industry come out of a two-year recessionary slump more than Pennsylvania, which has seen more than a $1 billion increase in revenue during the past two fiscal years. That growth has catapulted the state’s industry to near the front of the pack nationally, with some experts speculating that it could soon overtake New Jersey, home to Atlantic City, as second only to Nevada in overall gambling revenue. With state and local tax rates on those profits significantly higher in Pennsylvania than Nevada, the Keystone state already sees more of a revenue bump from gambling than any other state in the nation.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing to roll out restructured fees for shoreline marinas across the seven-state region that some smaller operators say could be the death knell of their businesses. The fees to be applied in 2013 will affect about 450 riverbank businesses and properties on 46 reservoirs owned by the TVA, which is a federal government utility. The fees will use a formula that assesses market-value rental or lease value or a percent of commercial revenue, said James Adams, TVA’s manager for land and shorelines. The overall new contract is based on 4 percent of revenue. Larry Steidle owns Blue Springs Marina, between Kingston and Spring City on the Tennessee River.
Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher, plans to put up paywalls around the websites for all 80 of its community newspapers. Gannett (NYSE: GCI) officials made the announcement during an investor conference today, Forbes reports. The paywalls are to be in place by the end of the year. The Tennessean, Nashville’s major daily newspaper, and The Clarion-Ledger, the major daily in Jackson, Miss., are part of Gannett’s U.S. Community Publishing Division. Also under Gannett’s umbrella is The Jackson Sun in Jackson, Tenn. Similar to a policy now in place at The New York Times and other competitors, the Gannett model will allow visitors free access to a limited number of articles per month, Forbes reports.
The schools consolidation transition planning commission will get two recommendations Thursday, Feb. 23, for the structure of a countywide consolidated public school system. One is a “united” centralized school system leadership structure with what are described in an executive summary as “lean regional offices to support and manage principals.” The second option, called “path to autonomy” would give individual schools or groups of schools the option to operate autonomously “under a performance-based contract with the district.” “These schools either would become charter schools or would have a status similar to charter schools,” reads the executive summary released Wednesday afternoon.
Kincannon running unopposed in 2nd District The field of seven candidates running for three contested seats on the Knox County school board are made of past and present educators, entrepreneurs, a member of the military and a pediatric nurse. But despite their different backgrounds, all the candidates said they want to be part of making education in Knox County the best it can be. While the question of how to allocate the school system’s nearly $400 million budget remained a priority in each race, the issue of how to best integrate technology also was part of the conversation. Each candidate agrees that technology is important, but how to integrate it successfully is where opinions differed.
An Associated Press survey of the nation’s top methamphetamine-producing states shows national lab seizures rose again last year. The survey confirmed that Missouri regained the top spot for lab seizures in 2011 with nearly 3,000 busts. It also found that Tennessee came in second with almost 1,700, followed by Indiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma. Federal data the AP obtained this week from the Drug Enforcement Administration appeared to show meth lab seizures remained about even during the past two years. But totals from the states surveyed by AP are higher.
Gov. Chris Christie proposed a $32.15 billion budget today that relies on robust revenue growth to deliver about $2 billion in increased spending in several areas, including higher education and aid to local schools. Saying it is “time to put the New Jersey comeback into high gear,” Christie unveiled a spending plan for the fiscal year 2013 that relies on a 7 percent increase in revenue — even though collections in the current year have fallen short of expectations. The plan is in stark contrast to his two previous budgets, which called for steep cuts or flat funding.
We were glad to see Gov. Bill Haslam back off of his proposal for larger class sizes in Tennessee public schools. The first-term Republican governor wised up to the fact that his ill-timed measure was politically toxic — lawmakers from both parties opposed it — and threatened to weaken other reform efforts. Haslam said his plan was hindered by the difficulty in explaining that the goal was to give school districts more flexibility to hire high-priority teachers. Before Haslam decided to abandon his effort, the Rutherford County School Board and Murfreesboro City School Board were ready to submit a joint resolution against the measure. Local school leaders heard from teachers who were widely opposed to the idea of increasing class sizes.
In his recent State of the Schools address, Superintendent Jim McIntyre pointed to significant student achievement gains in Knox County schools. But he was quick to add that, “our data also point to some considerable challenges that indicate we are not nearly where we need to be for our students to be competitive in today’s complex and increasingly global economic environment. There is still much more work to do, and our progress needs to be greatly accelerated.” After heralding his strategic plan for doing so, McIntyre went on to say that, “Unfortunately, many of the most critical initiatives outlined in our plan—the very strategies that will help accelerate our effectiveness and therefore improve our students’ academic results—have significant resource implications that our current revenue structure does not support.”
More recruits needed after gains in Metro schools Everyone understands that great teachers have a huge and lasting impact on students’ lives. We know this because, at some point, a teacher made a difference in ours. But this is more than just common sense. For decades, studies have shown that there are large differences in effectiveness between teachers and that these differences can have a lifelong impact. One recent study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years determined that those with highly effective teachers “are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods, and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to have children as teenagers.”
There are some who might wonder why the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association continues to push on with its effort to change state law to allow wine to be sold in retail food stores against what seem to be stacked odds. The answer to that is simple: It’s something that a great number of our customers want, and our industry is based on taking care of our customers. Unlike liquor stores, we must listen to our customers and can’t just rely on state laws to protect us from competition. Is there money to be made by retail food stores’ selling wine? Of course there is. And like any other business, including liquor retailers, retail food stores look for ways to increase their sales in this extremely competitive economic and business environment.
Military spouses deserve unemployment compensation Tennessee should join the 39 other states that offer unemployment benefits to those military spouses who had to leave their jobs because of a service-related reassignment. Currently, when employees voluntarily leave a job in Tennessee, they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Service member spouses, however, do not have a choice if the military assigns their soldiers elsewhere. They are left without a job and without any compensation. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Tim Barnes and Rep. Joe Pitts of Clarksville, passed the Senate last week. It’s now being considered in the House, where it also should be approved. Gov. Bill Haslam already has signaled his support of the measure by including $280,000 for the bill’s funding in his budget for the next fiscal year.
It’s a well-kept national secret that right here in the Tennessee Valley, nestled along the Cumberland Plateau, is a project with the potential to preserve our planet, save consumers a fortune on fuel costs and put local residents back to work. Here, educators are working hand in hand with scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to create a new composite that will help the United States win the global race to create the fuel-efficient vehicles of the future. Some of the brightest minds in the country are hard at work creating low-cost, low-density carbon fiber that can be used to operate everything from airplanes to pickup trucks to wind turbines.
When generations of immigrants looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time, they surely had many questions and doubts about the life before them. Yet one thing they knew without a doubt—in America anything was possible, and their children would have a better life. That deep confidence in a better tomorrow is the basic promise of America. Today that promise is threatened by a faltering economy and a lack of presidential leadership. We have record-breaking unemployment and deficit spending, and a tax code that looks like it was devised by our worst enemy to tie us in knots. These three afflictions are interconnected. I have a plan to address them and achieve three goals: more jobs, less debt, and smaller government.
The old-line Marxists used to talk about “heightening the contradictions” of capitalism to make things worse and hasten the revolution. One of the great ironies of the Affordable Care Act is that it may be doing just that. Two years on, the major achievement of President Obama’s new entitlement and its regulatory apparatus has been to heighten the contradictions and dysfunctions of the health-care status quo even as it creates multiple new problems. The good—and less noticed—news is that the growing disruption is driving the industry toward the solution that prevails in the rest of the economy: the price mechanism. In the context of American health care, this might be a watershed.