Posts Tagged ‘TNDP’

The Jackson Sun: Voters will reject GOP over needless Medicare cutbacks

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

The Jackson Sun opinion editor Tom Bohs recently took Republicans to task for their vote to radically change Medicare into a vulture voucher system. The Paul Ryan, budget wonks say, would increase the out-of-pocket cost of health care for seniors by more than $6,500 a year.

Sens. Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander voted for it. As did Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlias, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher.

From The Jackson Sun:

Republicans shot themselves in the foot by proposing to end traditional Medicare and replace it with vouchers for private insurance. If they don’t drop this scheme, it will cost them dearly in the 2012 election cycle.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary. Seniors already have private insurance options under Medicare through Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The only thing the voucher system would take away is the government option for Part A (hospital) and Part B (doctor services) that seniors know and largely love — talk about biting the hand that votes for you.

Under the voucher plan proposed by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, seniors would be allotted money they could spend on health insurance purchased through private insurance companies. The advantage, according to Ryan and other Republicans, is that people would be able to choose the health insurance that best suits their needs.

That is the biggest false hope I have ever heard perpetrated on old people. What is the best health insurance policy for anyone? The best policy is the one that pays the bills when you get sick without splitting hairs over whether a particular illness, procedure, service, doctor or medication is excluded in the fine print of the insurance contract.

It is a fallacy that different people have different health insurance needs. What health problem don’t you want coverage for? The idea that some people are in better health than others and don’t need as much health insurance is nonsense. No one can predict life’s illnesses and health mishaps, let alone those of old age. It would be like buying car insurance that only covered you on some days of the week.

The other reason Ryan’s approach to privatizing Medicare to save money surprises me is that it is unnecessary. The system is solvent for many years to come. Shortfalls after that easily can be addressed long before they materialize. Ryan is solving a problem that doesn’t exist, and making seniors and other voters angry in the process. He should focus on problems that are real and on the table right now such as the national debt, high unemployment, mortgage defaults and a host of social, military and international affairs challenges we face.

But the thing I find most disturbing about privatizing Medicare is that it complicates the last bastion of senior citizen comfort. People who are old, sick or near the end of life don’t want to be burdened with complicated insurance decisions. Can Republicans not let old people just finish out their years with peace of mind without a lot of rah-rah, take responsibility, every man for himself flag waving? All that’s fine when you’re young or 40 or 50 and still building your lifestyle and personal security. But when you are 70 or 80 or older, the last thing you need is a bunch of insurance companies trying to get their hands in your pocket.

The final problem with Ryan’s Medicare voucher scheme is that it might not – and I would hazard an educated guess it would not – be sufficient to purchase health insurance that would provide anywhere near the coverage afforded by Medicare. What would people do when their benefits ran out? Ryan doesn’t address that. Again, it would be every man for himself. Of course, there might still be Medicaid available to those brought to penury by uncovered medical expenses. But that only puts the burden on others, to say nothing of the emotional and psychological blow it would inflict on seniors.

Good grief. Medicare works. Leave it alone and find something to tinker with that really needs fixing. [Jackson Sun, 5/28/11]

FACTS & BACKGROUND:

 

REALITY: TENNESSEE’S ENTIRE REPUBLICAN U.S. HOUSE & SENATE DELEGATION VOTED FOR THE PAUL RYAN BUDGET

Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander voted for Paul Ryan’s budget to privatize Medicare. [Senate.gov Roll Call Vote, 5/25/11]

Tennessee’s entire Republican delegation (Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlais, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Stephen Fincher) voted to turn Medicare into a voucher system. [U.S. House Clerk, April 15, 2011]

More than 1 million Tennesseans are enrolled in Medicare. [statehealthfacts.org, accessed April 15, 2011]


REALITY: REP. RYAN’S VOUCHER SYSTEM WOULD COST SENIORS THOUSANDS IN OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES

The Economist: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Plan Shifts The Burden Of Risk Onto Seniors By Only Delivering A Voucher For An Amount Ryan Thinks Ought To Be Enough For Health Care, Not Guaranteeing All Care. [Economist, 4/5/11]

Politifact: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan Would Force The Average Senior Receiving Medicare To Pay $6,350 More Out-Of-Pocket For Health Care. [Politifact, 5/6/11]

Center for Economic Policy Research: A Person Born In 1957 At Age 65 Will Require An Additional $182,000 In Retirement Savings In Order To Purchase Private Insurance Rather Than Accept Coverage Through Medicare. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Letter to Rep. George Miller”]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET ENDS MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT

Wall Street Journal: “The [GOP Budget] Plan Would Essentially End Medicare.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Los Angeles Times: “Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare Privatization Plan Increases Costs, Budget Office Says.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/8/11]

CBO: The Ryan Budget Plan Would Increase Debt In The First Ten Years. [TPM, 4/5/11]

The Fiscal Times: “The Big Winners” In The Republican Budget Would Be “High Income Earners And Corporations, Who Top Tax Rate Would Be Reduced From 35 To 25 Percent.” [Fiscal Times, 4/5/11]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET RELIES ON “QUESTIONABLE ASSUMPTIONS” AND “FISHY FIGURES”

Washington Post: “The Ryan Budget Plan Relies On Dubious Assertions, Questionable Assumptions And Fishy Figures.” [Washington Post, 4/9/11]

National Journal: “Ryan Plan Pushes Optimism To The Outer Limits.” [National Journal, 4/5/11]

Reps. Tim Wirgau, Glen Casada: Out-of-work Tennesseans, You’re On Your Own

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Jobs aren’t the only thing you can’t find in Tennessee, we’re also in the middle of a major leadership crisis.

Democrats won the fight to include jobless benefits for 28,000 Tennesseans in the final state budget, but it wasn’t without callous and incorrect dissent from Republicans.

GOP Rhetoric:

Rep. Glen Casada: “I would contend the answer to that is it’s up to individuals to help their family and their friends and neighbors who don’t have a job.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]

Rep. Tim Wirgau: “We got people who can’t find jobs, but we got more people who don’t look for jobs because we keep handing them money.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]

Gov. Haslam’s first budget didn’t include this funding. His administration said helping jobless Tennesseans was not a “top priority.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]

Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey opposed extending the benefits, saying that after 79 weeks “you have to draw the line in the sand and say: ‘This is it.’” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/21/11]

***

Instead of looking for meaningful solutions to fix our state economy by laying out serious plans to put 300,000 out of work Tennesseans back on the job, our elected leaders Rep. Glen Casada and Rep. Tim Wirgau demonized citizens for being out of a job.

THE FACTS: Bad GOP Economy, Lack of Jobs to Go Around

Tennesseans are looking for jobs, but, under this Republican leadership, the state economy is toxic. When the jobs picture in 47 states has stabilized or improving – how is it that Tennessee’s unemployment problem is getting worse? [Bloomberg, 5/20/11]

Payrolls grew in 42 states in April. The only states going the opposite direction were Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

The jobs that do open up are getting tons of attention.

  • In Hamilton County, Amazon.com  received 4,300 applications in two days. They can only hire a fraction of those people. You can’t tell me people aren’t looking. [Memphis Business Journal, 5/18/11]
  • In Tullahoma, 60 people applied for 10 jobs — at McDonalds. [Tullahoma News & Guardian, 4/28/11]
  • In Shelby County, more than 20,000 job-seekers applied over 14 days to work at a brewery that plans to hire 500 workers over the next five years. [The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, 4/13/11]
  • In Montgomery County, “thousands of people” attend a two-day job fair in Clarksville. [The Leaf-Chronicle, 4/28/11]
  • In Rutherford County, 800 people apply for teaching positions. [Daily News Journal, 5/15/11]
  • In Knox County, Jobs News’ drew more than 1,400 seekers. [WVLT, 5/4/11]

Betsy Phillips at The Nashville Scene has more on Wirgau and Casada:

I hope y’all didn’t miss this little gem on Friday. In a story about extending the unemployment benefits for thousands of our most-screwed Tennesseans, Glen “Let Then Eat Cake” Casada and Tim Wirgau argued against the measure.

Andy Sher, in the Chattanooga Times Free Press , has the relevant quotes.

First from Casada:

But Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, the former House Republican Caucus chairman, spoke against acting, saying that although most of the money comes from the federal government, it affects all taxpayers.

“We cannot continue to borrow money to give to people who don’t have a job after 79 weeks,” Casada told the chamber. “I would contend the answer to that is it’s up to individuals to help their family and their friends and neighbors who don’t have a job.”

Apparently Casada doesn’t know that individuals who have family, friends and neighbors are taxpayers, but Casada is … well, Casada. Hard to even get mad at him anymore, really.

But Tim Wirgau is a more interesting case. He says, “We got people who can’t find jobs, but we got more people who don’t look for jobs because we keep handing them money.” Got that? There are, according to Wirgau, people who can’t find jobs — that’s one group — but there’s a larger group of people who don’t even bother to look for jobs because they’re lolling around counting that sweet unemployment money.

In Wirgau’s own district in March, there were 3,420 people out of work. If some of them can’t find jobs but “more” of them aren’t even bothering to look, that means there are, at the least, 1,711 people in District 75 who just aren’t trying hard enough, by Wirgau’s own metric. There are jobs; those jackasses just aren’t working them.

Here’s my question: If what Wirgau says is true — there are all those people who could find jobs, if they’d just look, which would mean there’s at least 1,711 open positions in his district, why isn’t he setting up some kind of program to tell the people who can’t find jobs about them?

 

 

 

Winning?

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Only one word can describe the latest move by the Tennessee GOP: Arrogance.

tngop-sheen

On Thursday, the Tennessee GOP announced it would be running a statewide radio ad called “Winning.” The spot featured the irrational and senseless Charlie Sheen, who lost his kids because he abused drugs and alcohol and mistreated women.

Is that what the GOP calls winning?

Tennessee Republicans voted to end Medicare for seniors and are passing laws that send Tennessee schools back to the Stone Age — broken promises to people who have worked their whole lives and an increasingly uneven playing field for rural families and working people.

Is that what the GOP calls winning?

Those aren’t Tennessee values. Show Tennessee Republicans we won’t let them get away with this.

Can you give $5, $10 or more today to help us fight back?

While they’re taking direction and handouts from big corporations, we rely on grassroots Democrats like you to show our strength and to be a true force for progress. Every gift – no matter how small – helps us put Republican seats in play.

And we’re going to go after them for this. They’re playing games with people’s livelihoods. We have got to stand up to their ideologically driven nonsense.

We Need to Hear from You

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

We need to hear from you. We cannot shape the direction of the Tennessee Democratic Party without your input.

Click the Logo to Take the Tennessee Values Survey

 

So we put together a survey to get your thoughts. It will only take a few minutes, and it will ensure your voice is heard.

Can you take a second to share your feedback?

Your ideas will help Democrats fight for rural folks and working people so that there are jobs and educational opportunities for all Tennesseans.

Click here to fill out the Tennessee Values Survey now.

We’ll announce the results of this survey on May 21 at the Tennessee Values Summit in Jackson, Tenn. Please join us and Democrats from across the state to discuss our values and start laying the groundwork for 2012.

Register to attend the Summit by clicking here.

Thanks for your hard work and your feedback.

 

Apply for a Summer Internship with the TNDP

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Young people in Tennessee have never had less of a voice at our state capitol.

At a time when 1 out of 6 young people are out of work, Republicans have turned a deaf ear to their concerns by cutting investments in education, college and the economy.

Now is the time for a new generation of Tennesseans to step up and lead.

The Tennessee Democratic Party is looking for young people to join our summer TNDP Student Internship Program. Help us fill our program by sharing this link with someone who may be interested:

Online Application: Click Here

http://www.tndp.org/page/internships-1

Please share this page with a friend

This summer the TNDP will begin training the next generation of political leaders — people who will make a difference by helping to elect strong candidates and strengthen our democracy in communities throughout Tennessee.

The TNDP Student Internship Program provides students of all levels and recent graduates an opportunity to play a hands-on role in politics.

TNDP Summer Interns will gain political leadership experience in areas such as grassroots organizing, fundraising, data management and campaign communications. Former TNDP interns have gone on to work on political campaigns, for government and have run for public office.

We’re looking for individuals who are ready to build the framework to turn Tennessee blue in 2012 and elect leaders who stand up for students entering the work force.

We have began interviewing for the program and space is limited. So don’t wait to contact us if you are interested in applying or know a student who would be perfect.

We are looking for interns who will commit to 20-40 hour/week. Please contact Kate Dobbins at (615) 327-9779 or by email at kate@tndp.org if you have questions.

TNDP Announces The Tennessee Values Summit on May 20-22 in Jackson, Tenn.

Friday, April 15th, 2011

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Democratic Party will host a statewide conference and workshop for Democrats in Jackson, Tenn. on May 20-22.

TVS

Bringing One Tennessee Together

The Tennessee Values Summit will be the first step in 2011 the party takes to refocus on its “ground game,” said Chip Forrester, chairman of the state party.

“Tennesseans have a long history of engaging with one another at town hall-style events,” Forrester said. “So we’re going back to our roots. We’re going to bring Democrats together, discuss our values and talk about the best ways to communicate why we choose to stand up for rural folks and working people.”

The Tennessee Values Summit will take place at the Doubletree Hotel in Jackson. Democrats will open the Values Summit with a reception 7 p.m. Friday. The conference will conclude at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Democratic leaders and organizers from around the state will be in attendance.

Programs and workshops will educate Democrats on how best to message current issues and provide strategies for grassroots party building in their communities.

In an email to supporters, Forrester explained the program: “Learn how we plan to take back Tennessee for rural folks and working people by showing our families, friends and neighbors what it means to be a Democrat.”

The Summit motto is: Bringing One Tennessee Together.

Online registration is now open. For more information visit: http://www.tndp.org/page/the-tennessee-values-summit.

A copy of TNDP announcement:

Friend,

It is with great excitement that we invite you to join us in Jackson, Tenn. on May 20 – 22 for the Tennessee Values Summit 2011 presented by the Tennessee Education Association.

To bring one Tennessee together in 2012, we’re going back to our roots.

Join us in Jackson at the DoubleTree Hotel for the Summit to discuss our values and learn how to best communicate our democratic priorities to our friends and neighbors.

Space is limited. Register now to attend The Tennessee Values Summit in Jackson on May 20 – 22.

Learn how we plan to take back Tennessee for rural folks and working people by showing our families, friends and neighbors what it means to be a Democrat.

Take advantage of a spirited program designed to educate and inform Democrats on how to best message current issues. Hear from our Democratic “Young Guns” and organizers and connect with fellow Democrats from around the state.

We’ll kick off The Tennessee Values Summit at 7 p.m. Friday, May 20 with a Welcoming Reception. Panels and meetings will begin Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Your $40 registration fee includes admission to the welcoming party and four meals. Applications for free registration are available based on need, email kate@tndp.org for details.

Sign up to attend The Tennessee Values Summit today.

If you have any questions, please contact the Party offices by calling (615) 327-9779.

Please join us in Jackson as we work hard to bring back opportunity for Tennesseans.

Chip Forrester
Chair, Tennessee Democratic Party

Tenn. Republicans Pass 21st Century Poll Tax

Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Sneaky Seniors

Making voting harder: Republicans institute 21st century poll tax with photo ID requirement.

Republicans in the Volunteer State said today loudly and of nearly one accord: Beware of sneaky senior citizens and their sneaky voting.

On Thursday Republicans in the state House approved a bill that forces voters to show photo identification at the poll — instead of just being able to show your voter registration.

Democrats in the House, and Senate prior to Thursday, tried their best to improve this bill so it wouldn’t be such an affront to seniors’ and others’ right to vote. But Republicans were not interested in protecting the voting rights of Tennessee seniors.

They went ahead and passed a modern day poll tax that requires you to pay the state for an ID card before you can vote. This bill will discourage voting — especially among groups of people who are poor, elderly and indigent.

It puts another hurdle between citizens and the ballot box and is probably unconstitutional, according to our state Attorney General.

Offering a solution to which there is no problem (and making the situation worse for everybody) is a condition that plagues this Republican-led General Assembly.

Jeff Woods at The City Paper has the details:

Democrats contended the bill is intended to make it harder for their traditional constituencies to vote, disenfranchising poor, elderly and minority voters who may not have photo IDs.

They pointed to a formal opinion state Attorney General Bob Cooper issued this week. Because the legislation includes no provision to pay for photo IDs for voters who don’t have them, Cooper said the requirement “unduly burdens the right to vote” and “constitutes a poll tax,” a fee making voting uneconomical for poor people.

“Our oath, of course ladies and gentlemen, prevents us from voting on a bill that is unconstitutional,” House Democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley told the House. …

Democrats offered amendments to make the photo IDs free of charge or to waive the requirement for the elderly and others.

“We’ve made it from the days of Andrew Jackson to today in Tennessee electing people without having to show a photo ID,” Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said. “I’ve looked around to see if there’s any evidence of widespread fraud by seniors in elections. I haven’t found any. No one so far in this debate has shown any evidence of any need to change the system we now have in place.”

 

Remembering Ned Ray McWherter

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

By Chip Forrester, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party

It’s been said that Ned McWherter was born in a house with a dirt floor that he built with his own two hands.

McWherter

Gov. Ned Ray McWherter

Working on the McWherter campaign in 1986, I heard that quip about a hundred times and most people just chuckled, but with the larger-than-life Ned McWherter, you never knew.

On April 4, we lost a true Tennessee legend whom I was lucky enough to call my boss and my friend.

I first met Ned McWherter at a 7:30 a.m. job interview at the Loveless Café in Nashville. Then Speaker of the House, McWherter was looking for a tech-savvy worker to join his gubernatorial campaign. Well, tech-savvy for 1986.

“They tell me I gotta run a modern campaign, and if I do, I gotta have me some pewters,” McWherter said.

Not knowing if I had heard him correctly, I replied, “Speaker, I’m not sure what pewters are.”

Friendly and plain as before, McWherter explained, “Well, they gotta keyboard and a screen and people type on ‘em.”

“Oh, computers,” I said.

“Yeah, like I said, pewters,” McWherter said.

Luckily, I did know pewters, and I got the job. And, for its time, we ran the most technologically sophisticated campaign Tennessee had ever seen.

In campaigns and as governor, one of McWherter’s unique political skills was being able to envision the whole picture, and the always humble man wouldn’t let what he didn’t fully understand get in the way.

This vision enabled McWherter to accomplish many things as a two-term governor, a 14-year Speaker of the House and a businessman.

People were proud of McWherter’s achievements, and the people loved him because he was a genuine friend.

And in McWherter, the common man had a true ally.

A man who believed struggling people could lift themselves up if they had job opportunity. A man who believed our children deserved the best educators and the best classrooms to learn in. And a man who believed a rich and civilized society would do well to care for the poorest among us.

McWherter was a mountain of a man with an even bigger heart.

McWherter banner

Compassion. Care. Nowadays these are dirty words — political taboo — dangerous to even talk about in the halls of government. But it was every bit of who Ned McWherter was.

When Ned McWherter, a lifelong Democrat, became governor in 1987, times were tough. Almost half our counties — 42 out of 95 — had double-digit unemployment.

The son of sharecroppers and a self-described college dropout, McWherter could relate to tough times. So as a candidate for governor, McWherter promised to focus on the one thing that could deliver hope and dignity to struggling Tennesseans – jobs.

And deliver he did. When McWherter left office in 1995, only one Tennessee county had an unemployment rate above 10 percent.

Compare McWherter’s story to today: Tennessee now has 76 counties grappling with double-digit unemployment and a Republican governor who talked about “jobs in every county,” but has been unwilling to tackle the problem with any public show of resolve.

Other conservative leaders in the General Assembly have flat out said, “the government doesn’t create jobs.”

But Ned would have none of that hogwash. He had a vision of what this state could become, and he never lost sight of it, nor would he let others keep him from realizing that vision.

McWherterIn his time as governor, McWherter championed sweeping education reforms, ushered in 21st century school improvements, brought health care to those who needed it most and built miles and miles of roads that helped us foster business development throughout the state.

We saw government make a difference in the lives of citizens — a tide that lifted all boats.

Arguably the most successful and influential governor in Tennessee’s long history, McWherter shaped the state to be a government of the people, for the people.

The will to mold government to do good in the lives of man is largely missing from today’s conversation.

The majority of the work being done in Nashville today is focused on doing favors for big campaign contributors, stripping away the rights of teachers and other embarrassing distractions.

coffee and wafersWhile there will never be another Ned McWherter, we still have a need for leaders coffee-waferswho will act on Ned’s values and drive the government to do the people’s business.

On the campaign trail, McWherter famously said, “Just give me a cup of coffee and four vanilla wafers, and I’ll be ready to go to work.”

There’s still plenty of work to be done for education, health care and, most of all, the state economy. And if our elected leaders are willing, I’ve got a pot of coffee brewing and a full box of wafers ready to go.

Mixed Signals: Haslam Raises Salaries for Commissioners 11%

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Low Priorities? Health Care Programs, Higher Education Getting Cut

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Democratic Party issued the following statement in response to an AP news report that Gov. Bill Haslam had increased the salaries of his appointed commissioners:

Gov. Haslam

Gov. Haslam’s budget makes big cuts to state health care programs for people who can’t help themselves and ends critical investments in higher education. At the same time, he is handing out big raises to his appointed deputies. This kind of balancing act sends an awfully mixed message to Tennesseans about what our priorities are. I’d be shocked if the new commissioner of transportation could not have made ends meet on the $135,000 annual salary of his predecessor.

-30-

FACTS

APNewsBreak: TN gov boosts commissioners’ salaries” | msnbc.com | April 6, 2011

Providers fear TennCare payment cuts” | timesfreepress.com | April 3, 2011

Haslam’s Budget Makes Cuts to Higher Education” | wpln.org | March 14th, 2011

TNDP Statement on the Passing Gov. McWherter

Monday, April 4th, 2011

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester, who served on Gov. McWherter’s first gubernatorial campaign, issued the following statement Monday:

“I’m saddened by the loss of one of Tennessee’s great Democratic leaders. I had the high honor of serving in his first campaign for governor and count him as one of my true political mentors. His gift of understanding what working people cared about and his vision for what Tennessee could become has inspired me my entire political career. Gov. McWherter was every man and he was bigger than life. We have a lost a great one.”