Archive for February, 2014

Attack of Obama visit typical for today’s GOP

Friday, February 7th, 2014

tndp logoThe distinguished Tennessee Republican state chairman, in a Jan. 29 op-ed, criticized President Barack Obama for “campaigning” by coming to a Nashville public school. But the president no longer has to campaign: The American people already re-elected him.

Three-fourths of Chris Devaney’s op-ed attacked Obama and it is another example of how a once reasonable and respected Republican Party has become a tea party not of ideas but of extreme ideology, not of solutions but of reflexive opposition, not of bipartisan cooperation but of endless antagonism.

Unlike the Republican leader, students and faculty at McGavock High School appreciated the president coming to Tennessee. As the students listened to the president tell of overcoming struggles and trials during childhood — raised by a single mother, his family too often barely scraping by, his own sins and shortcomings — I could see in young eyes the growing belief they, too, could overcome their obstacles and achieve their own dreams.

Indeed, I was reminded of the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

His life’s story demonstrated and amplified his words of opportunity and responsibility.

My Republican counterpart touted recent student test scores to claim credit for reforms put into place by Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who worked with Democratic and Republican legislators and with teachers to earn Tennessee one of the first two Race to the Top grants — before Gov. Bill Haslam even took office.

The chairman also claimed Republicans have produced a thriving state economy, but we have watched GOP legislators waste time and our tax money on increasing the number of places where we can buy booze and pack pistols.

Meanwhile, Republicans haven’t produced any effective jobs legislation, and our unemployment rate still far exceeds the national average.

My esteemed colleague says Republicans want an “opportunity-for-all” economy to lift up Tennesseans “regardless of ZIP code” by creating “high-performing schools.” But, in fact, legislative Republicans are attacking public school teachers, undercutting public schools and want to give away our tax dollars for “vouchers” to subsidize not just respected private institutions but also sectarian schools and segregation academies.

Meanwhile, Republicans are abolishing inheritance taxes for millionaire and billionaire heirs and heiresses to create an “opportunity-for-the-rich” economy, helping a very few at the expense of working middle-class Tennesseans who pay the bill for these giveaways.

Tennessee Democrats, by contrast, are working to provide real solutions for jobs and education. We are fighting to raise the minimum wage, seeking tax incentives to grow small-business jobs, protecting public school students, fighting for pre-K education and demanding that Republicans let our family doctors and community hospitals care for 300,000 working Tennesseans and children instead of sending our Medicaid money to New York and California.

Tennessee Democrats aren’t wasting time casting partisan stones at someone from Washington who came to learn from, praise and inspire Tennessee teachers and students.

Instead of doing the bidding of moneyed special interests and the mega-rich, Tennessee Democrats are seeking to serve all Tennessee families.