Capitol View Commentary: Friday, September 27, 2013

Capitol View Commentary: Friday, September 27, 2013

CREATED Sep 27, 2013


By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice president, DVL Public Relations & Advertising

September 27, 2013



Since he switched races back in August to run against Senator Lamar Alexander, I've thought State Representative Joe Carr's campaign has been a little quiet. Now when it is generating headlines it may be doing so in a way that won't help the challenger's cause all that much.

According to an article  (NASHVILLE POST. COM September 25), Carr has responded to some Tea Party candidate questionnaires by plagiarizing answers "in some cases cutting and pasting directly from material published by Heritage Foundation." An e-mail is reportedly being circulated about the matter by one Tea Party activist.

Carr says it doesn't matter. He explains he did his answers the way he did because of a "tight time frame to respond," adding to NASHVILLEPOST: "I did not make the claim in my answers that the ideas and thoughts I shared were exclusively mine, or that they originated with me. I simply communicated that they reflected my world view."

OK, good try. But usually you credit someone else's work directly by name even if all you are doing is just agreeing with it. It appears Carr did not do that, although the POST article is not clear about it. This probably won't turn out to be that big a deal, but it does show the difficulty Carr faces. He needs to convince GOP primary voters that Lamar Alexander is "too liberal" for Tennessee not whether the challenger properly credited his "answers" in questionnaires. Anything that diverts Carr's (or the voter's focus) away from the incumbent and his record is very counter-productive for Carr.

Besides Carr already has a problem with belittling comments coming from others in Tennessee's GOP leadership. Take Lt. Governor (and sometimes Tea Party favorite) Ron Ramsey who was quoted in the CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS (September 25) concerning Carr's chances of winning." I don't see it happening."

Ramsey also compared Carr's race to his own losing effort against Governor Haslam in 2010. "I ran against $18 million one time. It's not fun. That's what it comes down to. It is." Ouch!


As the end of the federal fiscal year beckons (Tuesday, September 30) along with the prospect of another government shutdown and an end to Uncle Sam having the authority to pay the nation's bills (around October 16), the PR machines on all sides are in high gear in Washington. It's as scary as leaving your kids (or grandkids) alone at home with nothing to play with but a book of matches. I mean what could go wrong, right?

It all comes down to Obamacare, which is just about to finally go into full effect (kind of) with the insurance exchanges starting on October 1. Right wing Republicans want the program defunded or delayed a year. The latest Tea Party heart throb (2016 GOP Presidential candidate?) Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (channeling his inner Jimmy Stewart) spoke for over 20 hours on the Senate floor trying to draw attention and support to the defunding issue even though he sometimes talked about anything but health care. 

Nobody thinks the GOP can stop Obamacare or defund it. In fact, the GOP Senate leadership including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has disowned the idea of a filibuster. He's still opposed to Obamacare, but he can count votes in the Senate and he knows what Senator Cruz wants to accomplish can't happen. But O'Connell is facing re-election and he's likely to play a price for his stance of not believing in the fairy tale that Obamacare can be delayed or defunded.

So could Senator Lamar Alexander. He is a good friend of McConnell's and he's also up for re-election in 2014. Neither Alexander nor his Tennessee colleague, Bob Corker talk much about defunding Obamacare. Instead, to continue to prove they oppose the program but through different means, Alexander issued a news release in recent days saying the administration of President Barack Obama violated its own executive order by not studying the effects of a number of new taxes imposed by the health care law that "drain billions of dollars out of Americans' pocketbooks". Alexander continues to say Obamacare is a train wreck that we have seen coming even before it passed three years ago.

As for shutting down the government to stop the new health law, Alexander says it's a strategy that won't work. "I'm not in the shutdown the government crowd," he explains." I'm in the take over the government crowd to the repeal and replace Obamacare."

Senator Corker's most recent comments are even more interesting and provocative to Tea Party supporters.  He said this on CNN's NEW DAY (September 25).  " I do hope we see some good policy changes (from the Obama Administration) over the course of this next week, and I think we have the opportunity for that to occur."     Senator Corker hopes that will include delays in both the individual mandate and health care subsidies. He adds: "I have a feeling something fairly good can come out of this…discussions over which is the best tactic, those will be long forgotten if we can get some good policies in place."

Senator Corker, I hope that is from your mouth to God's ears.  But for now, whether it's Obamacare or the budget or the debt ceiling that's not how it works in Washington unfortunately. Meantime Senator Corker got even more directly in the face of Senator Cruz and his Tea Party supporters in the Senate. Speaking on the Senate floor (September 26), Corker accused them of delaying the government funding bill just to get more publicity on TV.  That will ruffle a few feathers!

But just so nobody thinks Tennessee's junior senator is too cozy with the President, his office issued a strongly worded news release warning the Administration not to do anything to implement the new United Nations Arms Trade Treaty without the constitutionally required advice and consent from the full Senate. The Tea Party despises the treaty and sees it as backdoor way to impose new domestic gun control laws.

By the way, this implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act certainly has not been the President's finest hour, as portions or it (this week insurance exchanges for small businesses) continue to be delayed by the Administration on its own because the program is just not ready to go.

While this is clearly the President's greatest legislative achievement, he's been a failure in explaining and winning support for it with the public. In fact, he has allowed his opponents to define (that is, vilify) the program to the point where its tarnished brand image may never recover. It's also hurting the President's job performance polling numbers which have slumped again in recent weeks (going back and forth on the Syria crisis probably also still hurts).

LATE BREAKING: On mid-Friday afternoon (September 27) the Senate voted 54-44 for a "clean" continuing budget resolution (with Obamacare funding still intact). That allows the federal government to stay funded at its current levels until November 15 (and then Congress gets to do this again just before Thanksgiving?  Really?)

The budget resolution now goes back to the House where its counter offer remains unclear. Will the GOP-led chamber renew its call for Obamacare to be defunded and likely start a shutdown of the government starting next Tuesday? Will the House cave? Will it make a new budget offer for the Senate to vote on or wait and stake its fight on ending Obamacare on the federal debt limit extension looming at the middle of the month? So many matches for the children in Congress to play with and so much political dynamite potentially at stake 

In the end both of Tennessee's Senators issued news releases with headlines touting that they had voted "to defund Obamcare." Their votes throughout the week were identical. Twice they voted yes on procedural moves to allow the Senate to take up the House bill to keep the government running without Obamacare. Then they voted no twice, once to restore the health care funds (which passed anyway) and then no again to approve the amended bill with Obamcare in it, and send the measure back to the House. 


Believe it or not, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is halfway through his second four year term. And he's not slowing down one bit as he enters his final 24 months in office.

Mayor Dean is my guest on INSIDE POLITICS this week, and of course, we have lots to discuss from the AMP to a possible new baseball stadium and from our education wars in Nashville and across the state to the booming brand image Nashville continues to create nationally and now around the world.

INSIDE POLITICS can be seen several times each weekend on the NEWSCHANNEL5 Network. Those times include 5:00 a.m. Sunday on the main channel, WTVF-TV NEWSCHANNEL5.  We are also on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS at 7:00 p.m. Friday, 5:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m., Saturday, and 5:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 150 and NEWSCHANNEL5's over-the-air digital channel 5.2.  Portions of INSIDE POLITICS interviews are also later posted on NEWSCHANNEL5.com.

And don't forget you can now watch INSIDE POLITICS in real time with live streaming video on NewsChannel5.com. That means if you have a computer and internet access, you can see INSIDE POLITICS anytime its airs on the PLUS. It no longer matters what cable or satellite service you have or where you live.  It's so easy to see us now, you need watch!


He's said it several times and it keeps making headlines. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey predicts when the General Assembly returns to Nashville in January lawmakers will finally approve a bill to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores.

 The bill has gone nowhere for years on the Hill. But Ramsey says his colleagues tell him they've been very impressed by the overwhelming public support for the change and he believes it will now happen. In fact, his continued comments on the issue remind of Joe Namath loudly predicting his Jets would pull an upset win in the Super Bowl so many years ago.

And Ramsey has been right before. Last year he predicted the Legislature would quickly pass a "guns in parking lots/trunks" bill that had had lawmakers tied up in knots for a while. He was right, although due to an Attorney General's ruling it looks like another bill to clarify the intent of the original measure will be required of lawmakers this year.

That may not be easy to do and given the powerful political reputation of the liquor industry in Tennessee passing the wine in grocery stores bill won't be either, even though now the House Chairman whose vote killed the bill in committee last session now says he's willing to change his mind if debate on the matter continues.


As a health update, I am trying to drink a lot more water these days (doctor's orders). I gulp down a couple of really big glassfuls in the morning and again at night before I go to bed (yeah it makes me get up and go the bathroom).

But it seems to be helping.

 I am not as raspy, and while I still have some running nose and sneezing episodes, those seem to happen when I don't drink enough water that day. My voice seems stronger too both in timbre and when I sing along in my car or in church. So I think it's working, especially to counteract all the pills I take that dehydrate me and the sleep apnea machine I wear at night.

Now I fill that machine with distilled water but I can tell it still dries me out putting hot air up my nose all night. But it also does wonderful things for my blood pressure, so I am a devoted user.

There was even more good news for me this week. My trainer actually remarked that he is surprised at how strong I am becoming in working on the weight machines. He tried me on a couple of new machines he didn't think I could handle at the weights he started me, but I did. So I am feeling pretty good right now.

But on the down side (a little)  I am learning that if I sit in meetings for an hour or so or longer, when I get up to walk I have trouble with my walking  gait and people ask if or why I'm limping. Oh, well, still work to do.