Press Releases

TNDP: Questionable if TN GOP will Protect Senior Citizen Health Care Benefits

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 30, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan aren’t the only Republican politicians with a plan to end Medicare as we know it.

Earlier this year, Tennessee Republicans, including state Rep. Jim Gotto, co-sponsored the Health Care Compact bill (HB0369/SB0326), an extreme measure that endangers the health benefits of 800,000 Tennessee seniors enrolled in Medicare and shifts management of their health care plans to TennCare.

Tennessee seniors now want to know if Republican Senate candidate Steve Dickerson and House candidates Charles Williamson, Ben Claybaker and Robert Duvall will support controversial entitlement reforms such as turning Medicare into a privatized voucher program or the state Republican plan to have TennCare take over Medicare.

“Voters assume Dickerson, Williamson, Claybaker and Duvall will fall in line with party bosses, like Rep. Gotto, who want to end Medicare as we know it and hand the management of their health care plan over to TennCare,” said Brandon Puttbrese of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “If these candidates are supporting the Romney-Ryan ticket, which is pushing for vouchers and empty promises that will swamp Tennessee seniors with increased health care costs, voters have to expect that they won’t stray far from their party’s anti-senior policies.”

Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has endorsed his running mate’s plan to privatize Medicare through vouchers. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found the Ryan plan would cut benefits and raise health care costs for seniors by $6,400 each year.

“Tennessee seniors won’t support an extreme plan that puts their current health care coverage at risk — whether it’s Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or Republicans in Tennessee, there are consequences for endorsing plans that endangers Medicare’s guaranteed benefit or turns the program into a privatized voucher scheme,” said Puttbrese. “It’s time for Davidson County’s G.O.P. candidates — Steve Dickerson, Charles Williamson, Ben Claybaker and Robert Duvall — to be clear with voters and explain whether they support these extreme entitlement reforms that pose a threat to seniors by putting their guaranteed coverage at risk.



Republican Health Care Compact Bill Would Force 800,000 Tennessee Seniors and 200,000 Disabled Tennesseans into TennCare or a Similar State Program. Under the Republican Health Care Compact Bill (HB0369/SB0326), beginning in FY13-14, the State of Tennessee would take over the federal Medicare program and force enrollees into TennCare or a similar state program. Not only would this be an unprecedented expansion of state government, this bill would increase the state budget by $11,505,596,700.[, accessed 8/15/12]

Compact’s Block Grant Funding Gap Endangers Medicare’s Guaranteed Benefit at Current Levels and Would Pass Costs onto Seniors. In a release, AARP Utah — another state that has enacted the Health Care Compact law — summarized two of the major problems of the compact, problems that Tennessee would surely face. The AARP stated, “First, the block grant would not keep pace with medical inflation, meaning a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to the state, as medical inflation is much higher than ‘cost-of-living’ inflation… Third, the gap between the block grant funds and the actual cost of medical care for the hundreds of thousands of people who are served by Medicaid and Medicare would be shouldered by the low-income, disabled, and senior populations who are beneficiaries.” [, 5/2012]

Indiana Republicans Excluded Medicare From Their Health Care Compact Law to Avoid Cuts to Seniors’ Benefits. Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican, has a very complex position on Indiana’s “Health Care Compact.” Recognizing the that funding for the Health Care Compact is not designed to keep pace with medical inflation, as pointed out by AARP Utah, Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature amended their “Health Care Compact” bill to exclude Medicare from their compact. [NWI Politics, 2/23/12]


The Ryan Plan Would End Medicare As We Know It And Raise Seniors Health Costs By Thousands Of Dollars Per Year. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the ‘doughnut hole’ in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “Medicare in the Ryan Budget,” 3/28/12]

The Ryan Plan Raises The Eligibility Age For Medicare From 65 To 67, And Puts In Place Caps On Spending That Could Shift Costs To Seniors As Health Care Costs Rise. “Under Ryan’s blueprint, the Medicare eligibility age would rise over time beginning in 2023 from 65 to 67. In the future, seniors would be given government assistance to purchase private health-insurance plans or could continue to take part in the current fee-for-service model. Spending would be capped, meaning risks and costs could shift to seniors as health-care costs rise.” [Washington Post, 3/29/12]

The Affordable Care Act Preserves Medicare for the Future. Health reform found $716 billion in savings that didn’t cut Medicare benefits by a dime. These savings are extending the life of Medicare through 2024 by cutting unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. [, 8/24/12]

Press Releases

TNDP Blames GOP for State Unemployment Uptick

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 16, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans saw the third straight month of higher unemployment numbers when the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued figures showing that Tennessee’s unemployment rating rose .3% to 8.4%, eclipsing the national average of 8.3%.

“Democratic lawmakers rang the alarm bells about the need for a pro-jobs agenda to put Tennesseans back to work, but the Republican party was too focused on settling political scores and stacking the deck against Tennessee’s working class to stop and listen,” said Brandon Puttbrese, Communications Director. “If the GOP would have worked as hard to protect the middle class as they worked to reward the special interests, we’d be seeing unemployment numbers going in the right direction today.”

Business and Economy Health Care Press Releases

TNDP Praises President Obama’s Leadership on Affordable Care Act

Press Release from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, June 28, 2012:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act.

“The Supreme Court affirmed what a majority of Congress and the President already knew; that the Affordable Care Act is a constitutionally appropriate response to the health care crisis facing Tennessee families. Because of President Obama’s leadership, millions of working families, including a half a million Tennesseans, will have access to doctors and affordable health care.

“The Affordable Care Act is law, and will continue to be the law of the land. We should all come together and work in a bipartisan fashion, as did the Supreme Court, in order to ensure that all Tennesseans can take advantage of the provisions in the law that provide health and financial security, such as:

  • Millions of young adults will still be able to stay on their family’s plan until they’re 26.
  • Many seniors will continue to save $600 a year on their prescription drugs
  • Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men.
  • Soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
  • By August, millions of Americans will receive a rebate because their insurance company spent too much of their premium on administrative costs or CEO bonuses.

“It is time for the legislature to start focusing on results and not politics. Tennesseans want our elected officials to move past the partisan bickering over health reforms and get to work on creating jobs and growing our economy.

Press Releases

TNDP Launches Online Petition Against Governor’s Class-Size Expansion Effort

Press Release from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, Feb. 8, 2012:

View the Petition:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Democratic Party launched Wednesday an online petition drive opposing Governor Bill Haslam’s proposal to eliminate average class size requirements at public schools. Chairman Chip Forrester released this statement to accompany the petition:

“Parents and teachers know first hand what difference small class sizes make in improving student learning. It’s common sense; the fewer students in a classroom, the more time a teacher can spend with each individual student.

“If our goal is to improve student learning, Governor Haslam’s plan to increase class sizes is the wrong way to go. It’s a bad idea that shortchanges our kids’ future.

“We can’t afford to settle for anything but the best in Tennessee’s classrooms because the countries our kids will be competing with for the jobs of the 21st century — China, Japan, India — aren’t settling either.

“In tough economic times, education is an easy target for cuts, but nothing could be more short-sighted. When parents are stressed at home because they’ve lost a job, children need more strong, effective teachers, not less. When jobs are scarce, there’s no better time for young people to get that degree or for workers who’ve been laid off to go back and re-train.

“It’s time to recommit to our kids, our workers, and our future by making sure Tennessee has the best educated children in the nation.”

The Tennessee Democratic Party will deliver the petition and comments to the governor’s office in the coming days.

Online at:



Tennessee’s Teacher Quality in Tennessee Among Best in Nation. The Memphis Business Journal reports that Tennessee teachers earned one of the highest overall grades in the nation on the National Council on Teacher Quality’s 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook. Tennessee earned a B- and was one of only four states to receive a B grade. [Memphis Business Journal, 1/27/12]

News Coverage of the Haslam’s Class Size Plan

Educators balk at Haslam class size proposal

Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to lift a cap on class size averages is meeting resistance from educators, but the Republican calls the proposal a key element to his effort to allow school districts to hike teacher salaries.

Guest column: Haslam’s bad idea — larger class sizes

It’s your daughter’s first day of kindergarten. She’s excited, but also scared to be leaving Mom and Dad. You tell her it will be all right, that her teacher will take care of her and that she’ll make lots of new friends.

Johnson City Board of Education passes resolution opposing part of Haslam’s plan

The Johnson City Board of Education is making its opposition to part of Governor Bill Haslam’s education reform plan be heard loud and clear.

Reporter’s Notebook: School class size plan gets failing grade

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to relax state mandates on local schools’ classroom size isn’t getting a passing grade from many of the people who run them — school superintendents and directors.

Some teachers opposing Haslam’s new education plan

Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to allow local Tennessee school districts to determine class sizes is drawing strong opposition from teachers who say it will adversely affect students’ ability to learn and graduate.

Press Releases

TNDP: ‘Haslam’s Federal Income Tax Return Exemplifies Unfair Tax Policies’

Memo from Brandon Puttbrese, Communications Director for the Tennessee Democratic Party, Nov. 15, 2011:

Is Gov. Haslam Tennessee’s poster child for growing inequality and unfair tax policy?


A large majority of Tennesseans favor taxing the wealthy — especially millionaires. On Monday, The Tennessean published findings of a statewide poll, conducted by Vanderbilt University: “More than two-thirds of state residents say they support higher income taxes on millionaires as part of next year’s budget, and nearly as many say they would support raising taxes on people who make $250,000 a year or more.” [The Tennessean, 11/14/11]

WHY? Tennesseans believe in common-sense fairness; the super-rich shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.

But is that happening in Tennessee?


In 2008, Gov. Bill Haslam’s effective federal income tax rate was just 13 percent. According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, a six-year financial summary showed that Haslam and his wife, Crissy, “averaged about $4.75 million in annual income over the period, ending with tax year 2008… also that the Haslams paid an average of just over $622,000 in federal taxes annually…” [Knoxville News Sentinel, 10/9/11]

The Washington Post reported that a quarter of U.S. millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than some middle class workers. [The Washington Post, 10/12/11]

  • Federal marginal tax rates 2008-11 – [, accessed 11/14/11]
  • Single teacher earning $35,000 —— 25 percent
  • Married couple earning $70,000 —— 25 percent
  • Single filer earning as little as $9,000 —— 15 percent


Governor Bill Haslam’s federal income tax return exemplifies the unfair tax policies that over the past 30 years have favored the wealthiest at a cost to working and middle class families. Vanderbilt’s new poll shows that average Tennesseans are keenly aware of the growing inequality and they prefer economic policies that will narrow the gap.

Tennesseans believe in common-sense fairness; police officers and teachers should not be paying higher tax rates than millionaires like Bill Haslam.

It’s time to focus on the basic values that have always been at the heart of American prosperity: making sure that hard work pays, responsibility is rewarded and everyone from Main Street to Wall Street does their fair share. Getting Tennesseans back to work is job one, but our work doesn’t end there. We have to create more opportunities for families to work hard and get ahead. This will require investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure—the types of investments that create jobs today and restore middle class security.

Press Releases

Dems’ Forrester: Voter ID Law Means ‘Less Democracy,’ Needs Repeal

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party, Oct. 4 2011:

NASHVILLE — State Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued the following statement in support of the grassroots efforts to repeal the new voter ID law in Tennessee:

“This voter ID law is designed to keep hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans from being voters, and it should be repealed without hesitation,” Forrester said. “We have never solved anything in America with less democracy, and we won’t now.

“Not only do these laws take away our right to vote, but they’ll cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” Forrester said. “When so many teachers and health care workers are facing layoffs and pay cuts, it makes no sense to waste our money on things we don’t need and that don’t create jobs.”


The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed the voter ID law, which affects more than 126,000 voters in the state. [Times Free Press, 9/13/11]

Since July, only 214 people have updated their IDs. [Tennessean reporter Chas Sisk, accessed 10/4/11]

The wait at driver license centers is too burdensome for the sick and elderly. The Department of Safety estimates an average hourlong wait for service at testing centers. News reporters have found citizens who’ve waited between two and three hours. [, 9/21/11]

More than half of Tennessee’s rural counties DO NOT have drivers license centers—making it more difficult for those in rural counties to obtain a voter ID card. [, 7/28/11]

675,337 Tennesseans ages 18 and older either have no driver’s license or have a license that does not carry their photo. [Commercial Appeal, 9/25/11]

Education Health Care NewsTracker

Dems’ Jackson Day Dinner to Commemorate Gov. McWherter

Maybe they will begin calling them “McWherter Day” dinners.

The Tennessee Democratic Party has announced that its state Jackson Day dinner in Nashville will be Oct. 1 and will celebrate the life of Gov. Ned Ray McWherter, who died this year on April 4.

Respect for McWherter and his place in the state party’s history since his death seem only to have grown among the Democrats, who are beginning to portray him as one of their most revered historical figures.

In a message to Democrats on the party’s official website, state party chairman Chip Forrester says, “As we work together to rebuild Tennessee and restore the American Dream for our children, our families and communities, we would do well by the next generation in fighting for the same values Gov. McWherter fought for: fairness, dignity and responsibility — for all.”

McWherter’s memorial service in Nashville drew former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, as well as prominent Republicans, including three former Republican governors of the state and GOP icon former Sen. Howard Baker.

The Democratic Party’s website home page, in addition to a prominent announcement of the tribute, features photos of McWherter with figures as varied as Clinton, Gore, former Gov. Phil Bredesen and University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who defeated McWherter’s son, Mike, in the gubernatorial race in 2010, took the highly unusual step in a campaign ad of referring to Ned McWherter and Bredesen, both Democrats, as among the state’s outstanding leaders.

Ned McWherter, from Dresden in Weakley County, was governor from 1987-95 after serving 14 years as speaker of the House. He was noted for his efforts at education reform, including a revamped funding mechanism for schools and annual school report cards in the state. McWherter also ushered in TennCare, a new system for Medicaid, which has since become a troubled, controversial experiment.

McWherter was honored with the unveiling of a statue on the town square in Dresden in October 2010.

The Democrats’ annual Jackson Day dinner is named for former President Andrew Jackson, considered one of the founders of the Democratic Party.

Press Releases

TNDP: Mitch Daniels-Backed Policies ‘a Blueprint for Destruction’

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party, July 13, 2011:

TNDP Chair: Daniels’ record an ‘excellent blueprint’ for harming schools, working class

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued the following statement criticizing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ visit to Tennessee to participate in a state GOP fundraiser to be held later this week:

Tennessee Republicans have a surplus of bad ideas that make it harder for working people to get by or for their kids to get a decent education — there’s no need to steal inspiration from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the man who wrote the failed economic policies that led us into Bush’s recession.

There’s no doubt tea party Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Gov. Bill Haslam will be gleefully taking notes and fawning over Daniels’ anti-middle class record.

Daniels is really the perfect dinner guest for the Tennessee G.O.P., after all Indiana’s Republican governor has been slashing funding for public schools, attacking the rights of teachers and workers, and advocating for unfair economic policies his entire political career. In Nashville, he’ll fit right in.

If Tennessee Republicans aspire to do more damage to public schools and further setback working-class Tennesseans, Daniels’ record is an excellent blueprint for destruction.


Engineered the Current National Fiscal Crisis As President Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Daniels presided over a historic turnaround in the nation’s fiscal fortunes, in which the $5.6 trillion surplus that emerged from the Clinton administration morphed into a 10-year forecast for a $2.1 trillion deficit by early 2003.” [Guardian, 5/17/11]

Mitch Daniels fought to take away rights from Indiana educators and forced $1.4B in cuts to public education. Since 2008, Daniels’ disastrous local revenue cap has forced $1.4 billion worth of cuts to public education that has closed schools, increased class sizes, prompted mass layoffs and frozen teacher salaries. In April he signed into law a bill similar to Tennessee’s law stripping teachers of their collective bargaining powers that was vehemently opposed by Indiana educators. [Courier Press, 5/20/11]

Indiana’s families have suffered under Mitch Daniel’s economic leadership. For the second year in a row, Indiana ranked fifth nationally in personal bankruptcies, at 7.1 people per 1,000 residents. Indiana’s median family income is just 86 percent of that of the rest of the country. Median income is falling — by 15 percent in the last decade. The real unemployment rate, which includes those too discouraged to look for work, stood at 17.4 percent last year. [New York Times, 6/23/11]


Daniels’ believes in Paul Ryan-style cuts to Medicare and endorsed President Bush’s push to privatize Social Security: “[We] have to fundamentally change all the welfare and entitlement programs. What Bush tried to do [in proposing private accounts for Social Security] was mild compared to what needs to be done. You have to have a completely new compact for people under a certain age, for Medicare and Social Security.” [Weekly Standard, 6/14/11]

Refused to Accept $4 Billion in Federal Funding for Women’s Health Care: Signed into law a ban on state funding for Planned Parenthood, even after Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Michael Gargano and the Indiana Legislative Services Agency issued opinions saying it was most likely illegal and the courts would strike it down. The fact is that Indiana stands to lose $4 billion in funding while at the same time ending the ability of at risk women to receive preventive care for cancer screenings, family planning services, and sexually transmitted disease screenings. [Slate, 6/3/11]

Enacted Radical Immigration That Have Cost Hoosiers Expensive Legal Fees: Enacted radical, draconian immigration laws that have been enjoined by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Barker concluded the state overstepped its boundaries in the statue. [Indy Star, 6/24/11]

Press Releases

Democratic Party Chairman to Haslam: ‘Act Responsibly’ on Unemployment Extension Plan

Press Release from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, May 17, 2011:

$60M in Federal Jobless Benefits for 28,000 Tennesseans Lost if Republicans Fail to Act

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued the following statement urging Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican legislators to pass law to reinstate jobless benefits for 28,000 Tennesseans:

Partisan politics shouldn’t threaten the economic future of 28,000 Tennesseans who can’t find work due to a recession that was no fault of their own.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican legislators haven’t lived up to their promise to create jobs, and now their negligence is jeopardizing critical financial support that is keeping children fed, bills paid and families out of foreclosure.

We’ve seen harmful bills that rob citizens and teachers of their rights get all the attention this session. Now Republicans have a chance to make an actual difference by fixing their screw up.

Mr. Haslam needs to prove he’s serious about governing – not scoring political points. The livelihood of nearly 30,000 citizens is on the line. Republicans owe it to these hurting families to act responsibly.


US Department of Labor estimates unemployment benefits give taxpayers a 2-to-1 return on investment. For the modest expenditure of less than $2 million, Tennessee would receive $60 million, which translates to $120 million of economic activity, according to a study commissioned by the labor department. The study suggests these dollars are injected quickly into the local economy and could potentially add more than $5 million directly to state sales tax collections. [US Department of Labor, 11/10]

Democrats scramble on to revive jobless benefits that Republicans failed to prioritize. Republicans, who control the General Assembly and set the legislative schedule, failed to pass a law to extend unemployment benefits for 28,000 jobless Tennesseans. Now legislative Democrats are pushing to reinstate the benefits, with House and Senate committees scheduled to meet Monday to consider last-minute bills to resurrect the program. Success would bring nearly $60 million in federal funds to pay up to 20 more weeks of benefits for Tennesseans unable to find jobs in a still-fragile economy. But it’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and the Republican-controlled General Assembly will go along. [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/15/11]

GOP Sen. Mark Norris says Haslam administration signaled they wouldn’t pursue bill to extend jobless benefits. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said today that state Employment Security Administrator Don Ingram last week “made it very clear that the administration’s position at least had been that they didn’t intend to pursue it.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/16/11]

Press Releases

TNGOP Mocks Gore-led TNDP ‘Unity Breakfast’

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, April 28, 2011:

NASHVILLE, TN – On Friday, Tennessee Democrats, led by former Vice President and failed presidential candidate Al Gore, will hold a “Unity Breakfast” in Nashville. Headlining the event are former Congressman Bart Gordon, former Congressman Lincoln Davis, former Congressman John Tanner, former gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter and former U.S. Senate candidate Bob Tuke.

Due to the failed policies of Democrats and Barack Obama, Gordon and Tanner chose not to run for re-election last year after it became obvious that they would be rejected by voters in their districts. Davis was overwhelmingly defeated in the 4th Congressional district by Dr. Scott DesJarlais. McWherter lost his bid for Governor against Bill Haslam and Tuke was only able to win one county in his bid for U.S. Senate against Senator Lamar Alexander.

“This so-called Unity Breakfast might be the largest gathering of failed Democrat politicians in one place ever in Tennessee. Besides their losing campaigns, the one thing they can unify around is the disastrous policies of Democrats and President Obama,” said Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Last year, Democrats lost elections across Tennessee, resulting in Republicans gaining a 7-2 majority in Tennessee’s Congressional delegation, plus large majorities in the Tennessee General Assembly and a landslide victory for Governor Bill Haslam.

“Democrats should abandon Barack Obama and his liberal progressive policies that are wrecking our country, or face even worse defeats than they had this past election in Tennessee. The problem is their party is out of fresh ideas and it seems the only fresh thing this breakfast meeting will offer is the orange juice,” said Devaney.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Republican Party began airing a radio ad statewide in response to the Tennessee Democrats’ event (transcript below).

The Unity Breakfast event, which is also a fundraiser for the Tennessee Democratic Party, is charging $250.00 for patrons and is free for donors who have committed a $1000 to the Democratic Party.


“Winning” Radio Ad Transcript

VO- Paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party.

CHARLIE SHEEN- Winning, anyone?

VO- Charlie Sheen knows about winning. But Tennessee Democrats? Well, Al Gore is hosting a Nashville Unity Breakfast with the largest gathering of losing Democrat politicians probably ever.

VO- Besides losing elections, Democrats have a lot to unify over; Barack Obama’s healthcare takeover, a failed budget-busting stimulus boondoggle, and trillion dollar deficits.

VO- Now that’s Democrat unity and a recipe for losing elections.

VO- Help us defeat Barack Obama. Go to

CHARLIE SHEEN- Losers. Winning. Buh bye.