Archive for the ‘radical agenda’ Category

Trump Nominates Folks From the Swamp

Monday, February 6th, 2017

15350456_1053079861470881_3683700321946841556_n - CopyPresident-elect Donald Trump does not have the traditional nominees of Washington insiders and donors to build out his Cabinet, but his transition team has spent the past several months quietly building a short list of millionaires and billionaires who could comprise one of the more eclectic controversial presidential Cabinets in history.

Here’s is President-elect Trump’s White House nominees to date:

Trump Chief Strategist

Bannon, 63, is perhaps Trump’s most controversial but unsurprising pick considering his counsel during the campaign. Bannon is a racists who took over the ultraconservative news site Breitbart. He’s a contentious pick for both Republicans and Democrats because of his anti-Semitic history and propagation of white supremacist beliefs. In the Summer of 2016, Bannon boasted to Mother Jones that he had transformed Breitbart into “a platform for the alt-right.” Bannon was also charged with domestic violence after reportedly attacking his now-ex-wife in 1996. He also takes pride in attracting the Christian Right to the alt-right movement.

Secretary of State

Bio: Rex W Tillerson is the Chairman and CEO of US oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil, having taken the company over in 2006. Tillerson, a native of Texas, has been with the company since 1975. The 64-year-old veteran oil executive has no government or diplomatic experience but he does have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Despite his lack of official government experience, Mr. Tillerson does have experience dealing with foreign governments, as Exxon Mobil operates in dozens of countries.

Attorney General

Bio: Jefferson B “Jeff” Sessions III currently serves as U.S. Senator from Alabama. Prior to his career in the U.S. Senate, Sessions was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, having been appointed by then-President Ronald Reagen. Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama in 1994 before being elected to the United States Senate in 1996. Thirty years ago a Republican Senate rejected his nomination as a federal judge because of allegations of racists history.

Secretary of Defense

Bio: General James Mattis is a 44-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Mattis brings with him a wealth of experience having served as commander of United States Central Command from August of 2010 to March of 2013, replacing General David Petraeus.

Mattis is beloved by the men who served under him, and earned the nickname “Warrior Monk” for a ferocious yet intellectual approach to leadership.

Secretary of Homeland Security

Bio: General Kelly is a distinguished military commander who is a widely respected by both his troops and Washington insiders.

With decades of experience leading U.S. Armed Forces, Kelly is a veteran of both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The retired general served as commander of United States Southern Command from November of 2012 until January of 2016.

Secretary of Treasury

Bio: Steven “Steve” Mnuchin is a successful banker. Prior to being tapped to lead the U.S. Treasury, Mnuchin was chief executive of Dune Capital Management, a privately owned hedge fund, and was a partner at Goldman-Sachs for 17-years. The 52-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader has spent most of his career on Wall Street. He supported Trump because he strongly supports gutting regulations on Wall Street.

Mnuchin served as the Trump campaign finance chairman.

Secretary of Labor

Bio: Andy Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which include the Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s chains.

Prior to his career as CEO, Puzder was a commercial trial lawyer in St. Louis. From 1978 through 1983, he was an associate at the law offices of St. Louis attorney Morris Shenker who he represented in various matters. In 1984 he moved to The Stolar Partnership in St. Louis and worked with Charles A Seigel, another St. Louis area trial attorney. Puzder has served as president and CEO of CKE since September 2000.

Hired an illegal immigrant in his home. Accused of spousal abuse. Does not support a working minimum wage.

Secretary of Commerce

Bio: Wilbur Ross is a successful American investor and business man. Ross is known as a “turnaround artist” who has acquired failing businesses and made them profitable. Known for buying ailing companies in manufacturing and coal to turn around (often through layoffs), Ross is the one of the country’s richest executives. He has been a Trump ally for decades.

Although a registered Democrat, Ross an early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Secretary of Energy

Bio: Rick Perry is the longest serving Governor in Texas history, having served as the state’s chief executive from 2000-2015.

Prior to serving as Governor, Perry was a member of the Texas House of Representatives, a capacity in which he served until 1991 when he was elected Texas agriculture commissioner. In 1999, Perry became Lt. Governor of Texas under George W. Bush, whom he succeeded when Bush was elected president.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Bio: Dr. Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon and GOP former presidential candidate.

At 33, Carson became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and earned fame for his groundbreaking work separating conjoined twins. In 2000, the Library of Congress selected Dr. Carson as one of its “Living Legends.” The following year, CNN and Time magazine named Dr. Carson as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. He has no government or experience that would justify the position he was nominated for but he is a Trump supporter.

Secretary of Education

Bio: Betsy DeVos is the chairwoman of American Federation for Children which, according to the organization’s website seeks “to improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.”

She has never held a public office or served in government. DeVos, 58, earned a name for herself in Michigan as an activist against public schooling. Critics contend that Trump picked DeVos because her family members, billionaire heirs to the scandalized Amway corporation, are long-time donors (200 million) to the Republican party. DeVos has also championed a push for voucher programs that funnel tax dollars away from public school into private schools or schools with religious foundations.

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Bio:Congressman Tom Price has represented Georgia’s 6th congressional district since 2005.

Before serving in the House of Representatives, Price was an orthopedic surgeon. Price has been instrumental in crafting legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), and implementing such legislation would likely be amongst his first tasks as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He was chosen solely to dismantle ObamaCare.

Secretary of Transportation
Bio: Before being chosen to serve as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao served as Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush from 2001 through 2009, the first Asian-American woman to serve in a Cabinet position.

Chao has been married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell since 1993.

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The Rise of Fascism in the GOP

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

art-gop-fascism-posterIt is a sad day when many Americans are unaware of a growing trend that currently drives the Republican Party to an extreme fascist realm. Fascism is when corporations own, operate, and control all facets of a nation’s government without any input from the people. Fascist is an apt description of Republican tactics and policies and an ideology that their mislead base ardently supports and falls victim to. But now a new force is driving Republican Fascist tendencies to new scary extreme.

Last week, Conservatives and Republicans starting calling Donald Trump a fascist. Today, GOP Presidential candidate, John Kasich’s Super Pac unveiled a new commercial calling Trump a fascist. Saturday, Trump supports beat up an African American protestor and Trump said he deserved it. Today Trump called upon Americans to monitor and report fellow Americans they suspect of [terrorists] wrong behaviors. This caps off months of immigrant bashing by the Trump machine. In the midst of this growing Trump fascist wave, Republicans are racing to wage a massive campaign against Donald Trump. Yesterday, the Trump campaign warned, “if they treat us unfairly, Trump will tear up the promise not to run as an Independent.

Regardless of what any American thinks of Donald Trump, he has performed a public service to America highlighting the fascist inclination that drives the Republican Party’s policies, practices, and allegiance to the rich and corporations. Trump is unafraid to publicly practice fascist tactics and he is having success with this message to the GOP base because of the past six years of Republicans’ conditioning their base to embrace extremism.

It is no accident that the fascist zeal of today’s Republican Party and its racist, religious extremist base is precisely the same as the rampant fascism of the early and mid-20th century; and Mr. Trump has exposed the GOP as a fascist movement. Republicans have embraced voter suppression, immigrant deportation of 11 million people, targeting Muslims, and restricting women’s rights.

It’s true – Trump is not saying anything Republicans and their base do not strongly believe and support; he is saying it loudly and it explains his growing popularity among conservative and the Republican base. Trump is the superhero that conservatives believe and desperately want. He has tapped into GOP core beliefs and conservative resentment to class, race, religion, sex, and economics.

When many people think of Fascism – they think of Nazis and the Gestapo and concentration camps. That concept is not the only perspective on Fascism. In current politics a popular trend of fascism is growing and caution should be used at this resumption of an early-stage of what is a New Fascism, (Neo-Fascism,) far more subtle and with a propaganda arm that moves over our culture like a slow, dark cloud.

The purpose of Neo-Fascist is long-term control and oppression of a society. Only if the People are fooled, lied to, made to think that there is some great danger lurking around every corner will they submit to total domination by a ruling authority.

Our society must come to terms with the real idea and definition of totalitarianism – we falsely believe that totalitarian rule cannot happen to use because we have free and open selection, but we fail to address the threat of voter suppression resulting in rigged elections that are not the will of the People.
We the people

Koch Political Industries: The GOP’s Shadow Party

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

ImageProxyiiiThe Koch brothers have poured millions of dollars into controlling the turnout in state elections and they have gained control of a political party in the process.

They have also expanded their activities in the area of messaging, polling, medial buying, election law and their political operation exceeds that of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in many important areas.

They also control several for-profit companies and their party infrastructure funds and controls Americans for Prosperity, youth voter outreach groups and a Latino outreach group in several states. This gives Republicans. in Koch controlled states, support of two parties [the RNC and the Koch shadow party]. This unholy alliance has allowed the Koch brothers to buy legislatures in many states including Tennessee. As the acquire state legislatures they impose laws crafted by ALEC.

This is what Democracy faces in America. The sad news is elections are now bought and sold by the Koch bothers [dark money]. They have bought legislatures and congressman but can they buy the presidency?

TNGOP Attack on the Middle Class Continues

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

150px-Business_moneyNashville – Yesterday the Republican Legislature continued its attacks on the middle class, voting to dramatically undermine salaried workers on all fronts. After opening the legislative session with a week of laws crafted for the NRA, Republicans have turned their attention to helping their other rich friends.

In a barrage of laws designed to gut middle class family earnings, the TNGOP continue to show their loyalty to their masters [lobbyists and wealthy donors] with legislation crafted to protect the wealthy. Among the laws addressed, three laws were especially ruthless toward working Tennessee families.

First, Republicans voted to eliminate longevity pay designed to reward state workers for years of public service. Second, they voted to gut health insurance benefits for state and local employees. Third, in their continued attacks against public education and teachers, Republicans voted to let charter schools throw their employees off the insurance provided by local school boards and force them to get insurance elsewhere.

Under the anti-public education bill, outside charter organizations, after taking over public schools, will now be in a position to cut costs by simply taking benefits out of their teachers’ pockets.

Individually, these bills are bad for Tennessee workers and their families. Taken together, they are the latest chapter in Republican efforts to undermine the middle class and continue the move toward a society of rich and the poor masses. Is this the Tennessee most people want their children to grow up in?

The only resistance to the Republican super-majority managed to pass these bills is minority status Democrats who overwhelmingly opposed the legislation. Democrats amended the longevity pay bill to delay cuts for a minimum of five years, but the amendment was voted down. They also urged delay of the massive insurance cuts, given their significant impact on retirees and current employees, but Republicans pushed forward despite his objections.

Patriot or Racist “Welfare Queen” Cowboy

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Rancher, “patriot” and celebrated welfare cowboy right wing-nut loon Cliven Bundy was exposed when he said this on Saturday: “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” describing a “government house” in Las Vegas where he recalled that all the people who sat outside seemed to “have nothing to do. They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”…

Nevada – That stampeding sound you hear is not Bundy’s livestock roaming public lands and feeding on the taxpayer’s dime. It’s his Republican supporters like Rand Paul (KY) backtracking as fast as he can to distance himself from Cliven Bundy, a Nevada cattle rancher, hero in the conservative blogosphere, fixation of Fox News and a racists welfare queen.

Bundy has been stealing from the tax payers for 20 years. Conservatives cried about heavy-handed federal bureaucrats, seizing Bundy’s cattle. They were disappointed the feds backed down after being confronted by wing-nut cowboys on horseback who were armed to the teeth and hiding behind their children. They even had snipers aiming at the federal agents.

Bundy is falsely painted as a man being harassed by the federal government. The wing-nut blogosphere wants sympathy for rancher Bundy. But in reality, he is a common criminal who needs to be in jail for theft.

Bundy is nothing more than a freeloader and it is comical that conservatives would support this welfare queen. He took subsidies from U.S. taxpayers and now refuses to pay the $1.2 million he owes for using tax payer owned land.

What is more amazing is that Fox News commentators have prayed and begged for violence. It is shocking to watch the great deceiver of “lies” conservative Fox news promote violence. Once again the liars of Fox news leads its [sheep] viewers astray.
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Bundy is one of a growing group of anti-government lawbreakers who needs to be arrested, tried and incarcerated for his crimes. He deserves no one’s sympathy. .

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.

Content in Tennessee

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

In 2010, the political landscape in Tennessee changed. A large stash of “dark money” sweeps the Tennessee Democratic Party from power, for the first time since Reconstruction. Candidates of the Republican Party were elected in mass, based on empty promises of job creation and a focus on education. It did not seem to matter that many of these candidates were not vetted; more less qualified to hold political office or even hold a regular job in the common job market. The voters did not seem to care they were electing unqualified people to office.

Unfortunately, the lack of qualification of candidates was not the only thing wrong with the “political winds of change” that affected Tennessee and many other southern states that created the perfect political storm. This political change was driven by much darker forces and was not based on the normal issues that affect most elections or spark most political up evil. This change was fueled by racism and hatred of President Obama. And it occurred at a time when control of political power was up for grabs for ten years, not just for an election cycle.

It occurred at a time when the political party who won the state, would control the state for ten years, and be allowed to redistrict the political landscape and reallocate the political power of a state. The masterminds of this political up evil had more important goals in mind than just political victory and they were more than happy to use hatred to achieve their vile agenda. Nor, did it matter that mindless teabaggers would serve as minions to assist the rich in reaching their goal.

We have since seen the devastation of this political change and the damaging impact it has had on the poor and middle class in our state and nation. It did not take long to realize the promises of job creation and focus on education were empty words “lies” by the GOP to simply gain power and control.

And since the election, the GOP has taken undemocratic steps to entrench their political power. Adopting measures to ensure voter suppression on the vary people their vile agenda has harmed the most: the old, young, poor, women, sick and minorities. They have attacked women healthcare, workers’ rights, gay rights, minority rights, civil rights, and dismantled the safety net that has successfully protected the poor, old, sick and middle class since the Great Depression, while continuing to give large tax breaks to the rich and corporations.

It does not seem to matter that they have lost national power as a party, they seem happy with the short term state power and/or regional power they have achieved and they have used this power to undermine national laws and political legislation.

Four years later, the attacks on women’s rights, voter’s rights, workers’ rights immigration, and civil rights has escalated by the GOP. Attacks on the poor and middle class have also escalated as the GOP attempts to dismantle and gut public education and social programs like Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment compensation.

Not since the Great Depression, has the GOP agenda been so void of a moral compass.Republicans are attempting to dismantle the vary programs designed to help those in need, during tough economic times, like now, when 40 million Americans need government subsidized food assistance to simply live and 1.3 million Americans lost their unemployment compensation, yesterday, because of GOP cuts. In months, another 1.9 million will lose their unemployment compensation. The GOP don’t even seem concerned about the additional loss of 240,000 jobs that will occur from this loss of this money from the economy. Nothing, not even the welfare of the nation, is more important than their vile agenda.

In Tennessee, more than 20% of Tennesseans receive government assistance for food and experienced cuts in SNAP assistance. More than 18,000 Tennesseans lost their unemployment yesterday.

The GOP faithful calls these expenditures on humanity – waste and too expensive to afford, yet, they don’t hesitate giving large tax breaks to the rich and corporations. They spoke not one objection when it came to the costs of twelve years of two “unfunded” wars and giving corporate “welfare” to the greed driven military contractors. They never seem to have a problem with waste when it comes to giving large tax breaks to their rich friends but God forbid – we help the poor or middle class during tough economic times.

Four years later, unemployment in Tennessee is 8.1% while it is 7% nationally. The Tennessee legislature has not passed nor discussed one act of legislation related to job creation. Nothing has been done to strengthen public education, in fact the GOP works feverishly to dismantle it. The Republican “super majority” legislation has been more concerned with catering to their gun lobbyists’ friends and other special interest groups. Our governor is too busy handling his messy shady dealings to something that would actually help middle class folks like extending Medicaid for 170,000 Tennesseans.

Did Tennesseans get what they bargained for when the voted red in 2010? Is there any buyer’s remorse or are folks in Tennessee simply content with the sad state of affairs of our state as a result of that vote?

Red State Mentality

Friday, November 29th, 2013

art-gop-fascism-posterFrom striping voting rights to slashing food “SNAP” assistance to America’s hungry, the mentality of red state America is becoming increasingly morally corrupt. Void of a moral compass, Republicans and conservatives in red states rush to outdo each other with legislation based on ignorance and mean spirited intent. Their blatant attacks and hatred toward the poor is frightening. The wealthy are more than happy to finance their greed based agenda. The mindless Teabaggers serve as their foot soldiers ready to do the bidding of the rich and powerful.

These same people share something else, a evil hatred for President Obama. The birtherism movement was born in the bowels of the red states. Birtherism is based on ignorance, racism and stupidly. It is one of the first scared beliefs of the Teabagger movement. The belief is fueled by minions of the rich. These people aren’t terribly smart. They work for the rich to undermine the middleclass and they are middleclass. Their red hot rhetoric is a direct threat to democracy and freedom. This disturbing behavior is only matched by extremists in the Taliban.

The American Taliban excels in political theater. Their leaders include Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruise. Their ignorance is based on lies and paranoia and fueled by racism and hatred. They hate science and facts. They use creationism to justify their lies, based on the bible, they claim, under their ignorance based interpretation of it. There is a real disconnect between reality and their beliefs. They hate the government but don’t touch their Social Security. They distort history to justify their ignorance based beliefs. They demonize knowledge and intellect. They reject facts.

antiOBAMAThey say they want to take back their county. The question is take it where? To dirt roads and caves? When it comes to their biggest hatred – Obamacare, they have forgot that Obamacare was the central issue in two elections that elected Obama, or that Obamacare was upheld by both houses of congress and the Supreme Court. They address the landslide elections against them with voter suppression laws. If you have policies that the majority of Americans clearly reject, the solution is to reduce the number of those who can vote. Prevent the majority from voting and the minority can dictate their ignorance based beliefs.

From issues that range from abortion to workers rights, voting rights to women rights, minimum wage to immigration, marriage equality to individual freedoms, those in the red states are on the wrong side of history. We can only be thankful that the majority of Americans reject this ignorance and that those in the red states are a growing minority. Americans must remain diligent to prevent the extremists “red state mentality” threat against democracy in America from becoming a twisted reality. Red state wing-nut ignorance is not only laughable, it is dangerous.

Bill Haslam’s Crusade Against the Middle Class

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

tndp logoBrandon Puttbrese was the Communications Director for the TNDP. Our families should be working their way into the middle class, not falling out of it. Tennesseans used to know that if they worked hard and played by the rules, they’d be able to care of their families, send their kids to college, and have a secure retirement, but today, the rules have been rewritten by lobbyists for the wealthy and well connected.
We have to reclaim security for working families and we can do it by restoring Tennessee values. To make progress for all Tennesseans, we must: put an end to the extremism and corruption in the government; invest in our future by rewarding hard work, expanding quality health care to all Tennesseans; and make sure everyone, from CEOs to working families, does their fair share and plays by the rules.

We’re not going to cut our way to prosperity or build a stronger middle class by giving more tax breaks to big corporations and millionaires. To expand the middle class, we must encourage and support our innovators, educators and builders. We need an economy that creates jobs of the future and rewards all hard-working Tennesseans — not one built on inside deals for well-connected CEOs and risky handouts for big special interests that threaten our entire economy and shortchange working and middle class families.

We need to restore security for the middle class and create an economy that rewards hard-working families. Instead, Bill Haslam has rubberstamped an extreme agenda that doesn’t create jobs and pushed top-down economic policies that pad his own pockets, reward his wealthy friends and damage the middle class.
Haslam’s tax plan will rack up $1 billion worth of massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, while he’s made big cuts to children’s services, higher education, health care, public safety and programs that help Tennesseans find work.

Bill Haslam has doubled-down on extreme policies that hurt working and middle class Tennesseans — denying 400,000 citizens fully funded Medicaid coverage, letting big business and lobbyists write their own rules, cutting programs that invest in workers and their families, and eliminating rules and oversight that hold government officials accountable.

Haslam’s anti-public school policies fail our students and threaten our state economy—cutting teacher salaries, over-relying on expensive standardized testing, and diverting funds away from public schools to an out-of-state, for-profit corporation that streams classes on the internet.

Not only did Haslam pass the biggest budget in Tennessee history, Haslam’s corrupt inside dealing outsourced hundreds of Tennessee jobs and directed hundreds of millions worth of state contracts to business partners and wealthy campaign contributors.

Haslam made his fortune at Pilot Oil, where he and his family have made millions from a scheme that preyed on their own customers. Pilot Oil executives have admitted stealing from truck drivers and even targeting honest, hard-working new Americans.

Haslam has rubberstamped an extreme tea party agenda that doesn’t create jobs and, worse yet, harms security working and middle class families; from Haslam’s discriminatory voter ID law and guns in parking lots (even when business owners don’t want them) to defunding Planned Parenthood and eliminating workplace protections for LGBT Tennesseans.
Bill Haslam’s special interest dealing and constant secrecy proves he can’t be trusted. He won’t come clean about his secret relationships with high-powered lobbyists and he’s still hiding his income tax returns because he pays a lower rate than working Tennesseans. If we can’t trust him to be honest about his dealings, how can he be trusted to build a stronger middle class?

WEAKENING MIDDLE CLASS SECURITYRebuilding a fair economy that strengthens the middle class by attracting good American jobs investing in education, and expanding access to affordable health care should be our top priority. But Bill Haslam has a different view. Haslam slashed security for working families, rigged the rules to favor big special interests, and cut programs that strengthen the middle class. Instead of asking everyone to do their fair share, Haslam gave the wealthy and big corporations massive new tax breaks and hopes that job growth will trickle down from the top.

Hurt Working Families to Pad Profits for Corporate Special InterestsIf we’re going to build a fair economy, big corporations and wealthy CEOs have to play by the same rules as working families and the middle class. Bill Haslam and lobbyists have re-written the rules to put profits for special interests ahead of working families.

• Good-paying jobs are key for middle class security, but Haslam has signed multiple laws that drive down the wages of working men and women.

o Haslam eliminated prevailing wage rules on state contracts, which allows wealthy contractors to pad their profits by slashing the wages of workers.

o Haslam repealed local wage ordinances, boosting profits by cutting worker pay back to $7.25 an hour.

• One of Bill Haslam’s signature laws doesn’t put one more Tennessean back on the job, but it does cut payments to workers who get hurt on the job — by a third.

o It’s already difficult to make ends meet when a family member is out of work. Haslam’s new law not only increases bureaucratic red tape and burdens working families, it gives businesses a new financial incentive to fire injured workers.

• In Bill Haslam’s world, special interests don’t have to play by the same rules as the hard-working middle class. Haslam’s cap on damages law shields irresponsible and reckless businesses that injure and kill Tennesseans from being held fully accountable in court.

o By putting a price tag on Tennesseans, the law protects profits for businesses and corporations that harm our families. Haslam signed the measure into law even while his multi-billion dollar company Pilot Flying J faced lawsuits for negligence.

Eliminated Programs that Put Tennesseans Back to Work
With more than a quarter million Tennesseans looking for jobs, we need to build an economy that rewards responsibility and increases opportunity for our families. Bill Haslam’s top-down agenda has boosted profits for his business friends and out-of-state corporations while cutting programs that help hard-working families find jobs. As a result, there are more Tennesseans looking for good jobs today than there was a year ago.

• To date, Bill Haslam has blocked Medicaid expansion, a move that would create 18,000 good-paying jobs and provide a billion dollar boost to Tennessee’s health care economy.

• Instead of bolstering efforts to get Tennesseans back work, Bill Haslam shut down 34 career centers that helped citizens find and apply for jobs. The change in priorities means residents in 34 counties will have to drive elsewhere to get help with creating and posting resumes, skills training and other job-finding services.

• With unemployment rising in the state, the Haslam administration eliminated a rapid-response team that helped workers caught in mass lay-offs prepare for new jobs.

• Haslam fired 71 Economic and Community Development workers who assisted city and county leaders in planning for new growth. The move passed planning expenses onto local taxpayers.

Destabilizing Public Schools, Shortchanging StudentsThere is nothing more important to our economy than educating our children, and that’s not going to happen if we overcrowd our classrooms and divert money away from public schools. Preparing the next generation of leaders and innovators begins at home, but our public schoolteachers play a vital role in equipping our kids with the skills and knowledge they need to compete for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow. Bill Haslam’s top-down privatization agenda threatens our students’ economic future by driving away high-quality teachers and leaving our public schools less secure.

• Bill Haslam’s first education decision put a commissioner with only three years of classroom experience — Kevin Huffman — in charge of a $6 billion education budget.

o This shortsighted experiment has been a costly and abject failure for students. The top-down management style of Haslam’s education commissioner has drawn the ire of school superintendents, educators and parents, crashed morale, and driven away high-quality teachers.

o In September 2013, nearly half of the superintendents in the state signed a letter to Haslam saying educators did not “feel respected or valued” by his administration and that teachers felt “voiceless and powerless.”

• Our kids need great teachers, and we’re not going to recruit and retain those teachers if Haslam’s administration keeps attacking them. In 2011, Haslam signed a law taking away teachers’ right to negotiate together for decent wages and benefits, small class sizes and the kind of things only teachers know about like what works best in the classroom.

o The next year, Haslam proposed increasing classroom sizes — meaning your kids would get less one-on-one time with their teachers.

o While Haslam gave tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, his administration cut teaching salaries and financial incentives for teachers who earn advanced degrees.

o Haslam instituted a flawed teacher evaluation system that scores more than half of educators on the test scores of kids they don’t even teach; Haslam’s new mandates put less focus on student learning and more focus on bureaucratic paperwork.

o Rather than attracting great educators, Haslam’s top-down orders are costing us great teachers. In 2010, the year preceding Bill Haslam and Commissioner Kevin Huffman taking office, 1,524 teachers retired; by 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 2,197 teachers retired — a stunning 44 percent increase. In 2012, one in five teachers who were eligible for retirement did so, approximately double the rate in 2010.

• Even though a standardized test never taught a child anything, Haslam’s administration has doubled down on high-stakes testing — at a cost of nearly $200 million year. Haslam’s top-down education policies are robbing students of critical thinking and forcing schools to “teach to the test.” Too many of our tax dollars are going to investors when they should be spent on students.

• Bill Haslam put corporate profits ahead of our children’s education. Instead of investing in small class sizes or expanding pre-K, Haslam diverted millions of tax dollars from public schools to a for-profit corporation that streams lessons to students over the internet.

o Last year students enrolled in Haslam’s for-profit school showed less growth than students in every other public school in the state.

o Haslam’s for-profit school scheme has failed students two years in a row. News reporters even caught the company deleting the bad test grades of students.

o Haslam’s own education commissioner called the for-profit school’s performance “unacceptable.” But instead of holding the for-profit school accountable for failing students, Haslam signed a new law protecting their multi-million dollar contract.
• When we should be strengthening public schools, Bill Haslam has proposed privatization schemes — like private school vouchers — that divert money away from public schools and have failed to deliver on the results that were promised wherever they were tried.

• Bill Haslam punished students by cutting $3.4 million from Nashville schools because the elected school board refused the application of a well-connected charter school. In retaliation, his administration then supported efforts to strip local school boards of the authority to approve charter school applications.

• On top of diverting money from public schools and undermining the educators who are shaping our students, Haslam’s top-down approach ignores the harsh realities facing Tennessee families:

o We will improve education by improving the lives of children. One out of four children in Tennessee live in poverty and Haslam signed a law to cut benefits for the children of Tennesseans who are out of work.

o More than 40 percent of expecting mothers in Tennessee don’t receive adequate pre-natal care. And while healthy mothers raise healthy children, Haslam has blocked funding to expand Medicaid, which could extend quality health coverage to 191,000 women in Tennessee.

• If Tennessee is going to win the good-paying jobs of the future and strengthen our economy, we must increase graduation rates at our colleges and community colleges. Unfortunately, Haslam’s plans are putting a good education out of reach thousands of Tennesseans.
o Under Bill Haslam, tuition rates have increased on working and middle class families in Tennessee every year, saddling students with more debt that hurts our economy.

o While tuition rates in Tennessee are increasing faster than most of the country, Haslam has slashed funding for higher education.

o Instead of investing in Tennessee colleges or in students by lowering tuition costs, Bill Haslam spent $5 million to advertise for an out-of-state, online college.

Blocking Health Care Security
Instead of working to strengthen Medicaid and improve access to affordable health care for all families, Bill Haslam has cut funding for important health care programs. Access to affordable, quality health care is key to building a stronger middle class, but Bill Haslam has made it harder for Tennessee families to get the care they need.

• Haslam opposed the Affordable Care Act and has blocked federal funds to expand Medicaid, an expansion that could extend quality health coverage to more than 330,000 working Tennesseans and invest billions in Tennessee’s economy.
o If Haslam continues blocking Medicaid expansion, more Tennesseans will die because they lack health coverage. Studies show Medicaid expansion would save lives; health coverage especially helps poor women and children in rural counties, the elderly, and black Tennesseans.

o Bill Haslam’s decision to deny working families Medicaid coverage has already caused hospitals to shut down programs and fire thousands of workers, which has costs our economy millions. Haslam’s continued indifference puts more than 50 hospitals at risk of closing, a shameful scenario that threatens to make health care less accessible to the rural families who need it.

o Haslam’s inaction on Medicaid is punishing the poor. 161,000 Tennesseans in working poor families who would qualify for Medicaid coverage will have nowhere to turn but emergency rooms, which hurts our hospitals and our economy.

• After spending $10 million of taxpayer money to study health exchanges, Bill Haslam evaded his responsibility to Tennesseans when he decided against building a locally operated health insurance marketplace that would help our families get insured.

• Instead of working to solve health care problems facing Tennesseans, Haslam opposed the Affordable Care Act and would:
o allow insurance companies to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition, putting as many as 2.8 million Tennesseans at risk;

o re-institute lifetime caps on coverage, meaning those with long-term and life threatening illnesses may be cut off from their coverage;

o take away free preventive health care screenings like mammograms for women;

o no longer allow young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26;
o charge women up to 50 percent more for their coverage than men.

• As governor, Haslam cut funding for a program to aid Tennesseans with disabilities.

Slashing the Safety Net for Seniors
Tennesseans who’ve worked their whole lives deserve dignity in their golden years — they’ve earned it, and they deserve it. But to pay for his massive tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthy, Haslam slashed vital programs that Tennessee seniors rely on for a secure retirement.

• Bill Haslam cut millions from in-home care for seniors, forcing elderly Tennesseans out of the home they have lived in for years and into nursing homes.

• Haslam supports repealing the health reform law that has strengthened Medicare and saved Tennessee seniors $109 million on life-saving prescription drugs.

Pelosi Provides Votes to End Republican Teabaggers Government Shutdown

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

130910_nancy_pelosi_ap_605WASHINGTON — Today, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders reached a final agreement on a deal to reopen the government and extend its borrowing authority into February, with final passage looking increasingly possible by Wednesday evening.

In the House, Nancy Pelosi provided the votes needed to allow the bill to pass; 185-144. The Senate passed the bill 81-18. It is no surprise that Teabaggers voted against the bill.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader announced the completion of the agreement shortly after noon, and the Senate Republicans who had led the push to shut down the government unless President Obama’s health care law was gutted conceded defeat and promised not to delay a final vote.

Under the agreement, the government would be funded through Jan. 15, and the debt ceiling would be raised until Feb. 7.

One can only hope that this will be a learning experience for lawmakers in the House and Senate who shut down the government in hopes of gutting “Obamacare” the Affordable Care Act.

In the midst of government collapse, the credit rating agency Fitch put the United States on a “negative ratings watch,” warning that Congressional intransigence had put the full faith and credit of the government at serious risk.
As the United States nears default, investors have demanded more compensation for lending to the government, with yields on short-term debt spiking to their highest levels in years.

Fitch warned that Congress has not “raised the federal debt ceiling in a timely manner.” It said that it “continues to believe that the debt ceiling will be raised soon,” but that “political brinkmanship and reduced financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S. default.”