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GOP Lawmakers Lament Feds’ Regs

The path to boosting job growth in Tennessee is obstructed by federal regulations, a handful of state and federal GOP lawmakers told members of Congress at a field hearing in Murfreesboro Monday.

State officials are paving the way for job growth at the state level, but there’s nothing more they can do when the federal government issues piles of regulations that discourage economic development, Commissioner Bill Hagerty told the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“Many companies told us through a regulatory review that the regulations have become so unduly burdensome that they have very great concern about their ability to expand and grow,” Hagerty told the committee at Middle Tennessee State University Monday, adding he has faith that Tennessee’s “great entrepreneurial spirit” could still lead to job expansions.

Last summer, Hagerty and Gov. Bill Haslam toured the state to learn what issues business owners and executives have operating in Tennessee, repeatedly reporting that companies were intimidated by regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and most recently, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The governor and Hagerty were joined by Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators — Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker — and Middle Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais and Congresswomen Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn.

Here is unedited video of the GOP press conference following the hearing:

TNDP: 184k TN Jobs At Risk if Republicans in Washington Get Their Way

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; Sept. 7, 2011:

New analysis shows extreme plan endorsed by Sen. Corker, GOP presidential front runners would cost Tennessee 184,569 jobs

NASHVILLE—In advance of tonight’s GOP presidential debate in California, the Tennessee Democratic Party released a new estimate of the number of jobs which would be lost in Tennessee if the Republican Party’s presidential candidates and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker are able to pursue their extreme economic policies.

The analysis conducted by the Democratic National Committee found that just the balanced budget amendment, like the one included in the Tea Party budget plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this summer, would result in the loss of 9.5 million American jobs and 184,569 jobs in Tennessee.

The loss of so many jobs would likely sink the economy into a depression the likes of which the country hasn’t experienced since the Great Depression. Sen. Corker and every Republican presidential candidate has come out in favor of a balanced budget amendment to the constitution or supported the Tea Party budget plan which contains one.

TNDP Chair Chip Forrester released this statement:

“9.5 million American jobs lost and 184,569 jobs lost here Tennessee, a second Great Depression, devastation for the middle class, small businesses, students and seniors, an end to Medicare, and a slashed Social Security — that’s the   Republican plan for our economy.

“There’s no question we need to get our fiscal house in order and get the economy moving, but the price Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Sen. Bob Corker are willing to pay to appeal to the most extreme and narrow e e       elements of the Tea Party is too high – especially for Tennesseans.

“The Republican approach is like setting dynamite to your home to fix a leaky faucet — and these misguided choices are the result of a Republican Party which has turned over an increasing amount of power to its Tea Party fringe.

“Americans want real solutions to the problems we face and they want a plan to create jobs in the short term and lay a foundation for long-term economic prosperity. What Republicans are proposing falls devastatingly flat on all fronts.”

The new analysis looked at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) August deficit projections for 2012 ( $991 billion deficit with CBO options for Iraq drawdown, extension of all tax provisions and Alternative Minimum Tax indexing and accounting for the so-called “Doc” fix), and using the conservative Romer-Bernstein rule of thumb that 1 percent of GDP equates to 1 million jobs, concluded that if the plan were fully phased in 2012 and nearly a trillion dollars in federal spending was slashed, the balanced budget amendment would cost 9.5 million jobs nationwide.

Because of the balanced budget amendment’s strict requirements for deep cuts, hard spending caps and a two-thirds majority to raise revenue, Congress would be virtually helpless to reverse the negative effects of these Tea Party Republican policies.

BACKGROUND:

Read the full report at: http://assets.democrats.org/pdfs/DNC-GOP_plan_job_loss.pdf

Corker Praises House for Passing Cut, Cap, and Balance, Calls on Senate to Do the Same. [Corker.Senate.gov, 7/21/11]

Haslam Releases Storm Journal Video

Days before the Mississippi River is expected to crest in Memphis, Gov. Bill Haslam’s office is releasing a “video journal” of him on the ground tromping through the rubble left from last week’s storms.

“This is flooding of historic proportions. Everyone keeps talking about the flood of 1937 and being back to that level,” Haslam said during a stop in Dyersburg May 3. “We are prepared to respond as quickly as possible both in response and in relief after the flood waters recede.”

The YouTube video featured Haslam looking over destruction in Bradley, Hamilton, Greene counties with stops in Memphis and Dyersburg.

The five-minute production included highlights of remarks from federal lawmakers and officials including Sen. Bob Corker, Congressmen Scott DesJarlais and Phil Roe and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

Local area lawmakers also offered remarks, including Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Larger than Life

Former President Bill Clinton probably summed up the way most people felt about Gov. Ned Ray McWherter in a memorial service Saturday at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville.

“Whenever I talked to him, he made me feel good,” Clinton said. “I was kind of excitable. He would calm me down. If I was low, he would lift me up.”

There were moments of laughter and moments of tears in the service, but above all there was an unmistakable swell of love for McWherter, who died on Monday at age 80.

The service Saturday drew a power-packed line-up of state dignitaries, but the message was on the compassion in the man who looked after people who lacked power or wealth or fame. A separate service is scheduled for Sunday in Dresden, McWherter’s hometown.

McWherter served Tennessee as governor 1987-95, and there were frequent references Saturday to his skillful days as speaker of the House for 14 years before becoming governor.

Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, who sat side-by-side during the service, each spoke of McWherter’s connection to ordinary people and his care for those who, like himself, came from humble beginnings in a rural part of the state. Descriptions of life in Weakley County were frequent throughout the ceremony.

The gathering of political dignitaries — past and present, Democratic and Republican — included Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, former U.S. Sens. Howard Baker, Jim Sasser and Harlan Mathews and former governors Phil Bredesen, Don Sundquist and Winfield Dunn.

McWherter was a Democrat, but on Saturday there was little mention of political parties.

Mike McWherter, his son, who was the Democratic nominee in the race last year against Haslam, gave a eulogy and began by picking up a gavel from a small table in front of the podium and banging it. He recalled how his father used to let him do that when he was speaker.

Gore picked up on the small-town theme quickly, noting that references to McWherter being born in tiny Palmersville instead should be described as “greater Palmersville.”

“That little community was something that shaped Ned profoundly,” Gore said. “He told stories about it all through his political campaigns. He said, ‘I played with a little white pig until I was 18. It was the only toy I had.’

“The Memphis Commercial Appeal said if that story wasn’t exactly true at least it was genuine.”

Gore made a point to mention the presence of legislators in the auditorium, including Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, who looked up to McWherter.

“There is a large family of people, especially in the Legislature — Speaker Naifeh and so many others — who really felt like family to Ned McWherter, and to all of you we are here in support of those ties and to honor what he meant to you and what you meant to him,” Gore said.

Clinton described how McWherter nudged Clinton and Gore to get together for the presidential ticket that won in 1992. Gore had just decided not to run for the White House.

Clinton recalled that McWherter said, “If Albert had run, he would have beat you. But you’re my neighbor, and I like you, and I will be for you.”

Clinton said McWherter told him, “I’m telling you, you would be a good team. He’s smarter than you are. He knows more about everything than you do, and your line of B.S. is better than his.”

Clinton also joked about his first impression of McWherter, who was as hefty physically as politically.

“I saw that body, and I thought, my God, the Grand Ole Opry’s got its very own Buddha,” Clinton said.

But Clinton quickly learned about McWherter’s political persuasiveness.

“The first time I met Ned Ray McWherter, after 30 seconds of that aw-shucks routine, I wanted to reach in my back pocket and make sure my billfold was still there. After a minute, I was ready to give him my billfold,” Clinton said.

Clinton called McWherter a “fabulous politician” and noted that McWherter had helped him carry Tennessee in presidential elections in 1992 and 1996 and supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 when she won the state’s primary. Clinton said that in his family McWherter could do no wrong.

The service included music from the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Former McWherter aide Billy Stair spoke movingly about McWherter’s work and drew heavily from the unveiling of a statue of McWherter in Dresden last October. The program Saturday included remarks from former McWherter chief of staff David Gregory.

At times, especially before the service, the auditorium had much the feel of a family reunion.

“He saw politics as a profession with a purpose,” Gore said. “He wasn’t in it for some ideology or philosophy. He was in it to help the people who were in the kind of circumstances he was in when he was growing up.”

Clinton described McWherter out of friendship, not just as a political colleague.

“Above all, he was a friend,” Clinton said. “Above all, to the people of Tennessee he was a friend. We’re here laughing and wanting to cry because we know he was special. He was great because he didn’t think the Democrats were right all the time, and he knew Republicans couldn’t be wrong all the time.”

Clinton closed on a note of the season.

“I think God knew what he was doing when he called him home in the springtime,” Clinton said. “In the springtime, we’re all reminded of how beautiful our earth is and how great it smells and how one more time we’ve been invited to make a new beginning.

“I hope the young people of Tennessee will wind up making enough new beginnings, so we’ll have more Ned Ray McWherters. He graced us in a way few people have, not just because of all he did, but because he was our friend.”

TNDP: Republicans Still Pitching ‘Failed Economic Policies’

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party, Sept. 23, 2010:

Republicans from Washington, D.C., including Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, are crisscrossing the state in an attempt to confuse Tennessee voters into believing the weak job market is a result of current economic policies.

“I’m confident Tennessee voters remember what got us into this mess in the first place,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. “It was the failed economic policies of a Republican White House that was more concerned about helping the bottom line of its Wall Street and Big Business buddies.

“This Congress and this White House have turned things around for us. We’ve emerged from a deep recession, but we still have a long way to go before this economy churns out the level of jobs it was before George Bush took office.

“Tennessee Republicans like Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, along with Reps. John Duncan, Phil Roe, Zach Wamp and Marsha Blackburn, seem to have a memory block about what happened. They want to blame Democrats when they know full well it was their Republican leadership that nearly sent our economy into a ditch.”

Forrester pointed out that the entire Republican congressional delegation from Tennessee voted against the Recovery Act last year, a package that has committed $6 billion in federal funding to help the state create or retain more than 10,000 jobs and provide much-needed infrastructure improvements. Included in that funding package is $500 million in Race to the Top funds helping Tennessee complete a comprehensive reform of its schools.

“It is shameful that each of them has the audacity to come back home and take credit for the very projects they voted against,” Forrester said of the state’s Republican congressional delegation.

“Whether it’s a new $11 million school construction project over in Hamblen County or a $483 million investment at the Spring Hill General Motors plant to create 500 jobs, Republicans want to take credit for it. If that isn’t the ultimate example of hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.”

Forrester also called the Republicans so-called “Pledge to America” a gimmick that would send our economy into the same ditch from which we are now climbing out.

“They would rather continue to protect corporate loopholes and their Wall Street buddies than help ordinary hard-working Tennesseans find a job or send their children to a good college,” Forrester said. “Their pledge is nothing more than a gimmick. We cannot afford to go down that path again.”