Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tennessee GOPsters Declare War on Workers & Teachers

Several Tennessee GOPsters have declared war on
teachers and workers. Shocking, I know.
Not even 30 days into the new year and several Tennessee GOPsters have laid out their plans for invigorating the state economy (wink, wink) by declaring war on the extravagant* rights of teachers and workers.

So much for freedom of speech and the free market.

First up: State Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) filed a bill — written by lobbyists — that would end the collective bargaining rights of teachers. Teachers often use their collective clout to fight for curriculum improvements, academic freedom and to fight for fair salaries.

If collective bargaining is taken from teachers, no one stands more to lose than the citizens of rural counties in Tennessee. These places already struggle to find quality educators. The number one reason is educator pay. Ending collective bargaining would further complicate the problem by driving down starting salaries and doing nothing to improve rural working conditions.

Here's what the state teacher's organization had to say about the proposed legislation (from the AP):
Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters on Monday called the proposal to do away with collective bargaining "an insult to every teacher in the state." ... "It's not a good way to get this new Legislature to begin its relationship with the teachers of this state," he said. "I think there are few people up there who are really almost intent on declaring war with the TEA."
And that's not all! Elsewhere GOPsters are on the hunt for workers' freedom of speech. 

Rep. Glen Casada (R-63) and Sen. Bill Ketron (R-13) filed HB0160/SB0139 which would make it a Class C misdemeanor for labor organizations to contribute to candidates.

In a more blatant attack on the rights of everyday Tennesseans, Casada and Ketron are trying to criminalize the freedom of speech enjoyed by worker labor unions. They want to use big government to enforce overreaching regulation that limits the free speech of average workers.

It's so ridiculous, I barely have words to complain about it.

Let me just ask this question: If you're criminalizing the political contributions of worker groups, which is just an organization of people, should you not criminalize the political contributions of every politically active organization that could be considered a group of people.

How about the contributions of businesses and corporations that don't have our best interests in mind -- only their profit margins? Should we criminalize their campaign contributions? How about Tennessee Right to Life? How about Club for Growth? American Crossroads? The Tea Party Express?

The bottom line is: Unions are the only free-market solution for workers to collectively address grievances with public and private sector management.

For Republicans, who routinely espouse their faith in the "free markets" and "limited government," this legislation should be considered an affront on both issues.

But true colors are shining through, and between the lines it's easy to read what they're saying: "We don't care if our actions contradict their very principles we claim to stand for — we're hypocrites. We're Republican."


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Let's Maybe Plow Congress: The Attack on Health Care Reform

Armed with new business cards and a supposed mandate to repeal "ObamaCare," Tennessee's freshly minted GOP congressional delegation is ready to take on the Affordable Care Act.

Reps. Diane Black and Scott DesJarlais are gearing up for the big vote. But Eighth District Rep. Stephen Fincher is already tamping down his fervent base's expectations.

"It's going to be hard to repeal it," said Rep.-elect Stephen Fincher. "We are going to move forward and do what we can, but we are only the House of Representatives."
That's not what he said on the campaign trail! I believe his words were: plow congress. He certainly never said, "We'll maybe plow congress."

I'm sure the "Awe shucks it's going to be harder than I ever imagined" explanation will please the anti-Obama zealots who elected him.

Other than Steve Fincher running the risk of sounding like a seasoned politician, there is a real danger to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Before you pull the repeal lever, ask yourself these questions:
  • Should we unplug the Medicare Part D supplement and force Tennessee's 85,000 senior citizens in the donut hole, maybe your grandmother, to pay even more out of pocket expenses for their prescription drugs?
  • Should health insurance companies be allowed to drop me from my plan because I got sick?
  • Should insurance companies be allowed to deny coverage to parents who have a child suffering with cancer?
There are many more reasons for Tennesseans to support the Affordable Care Act (small business tax credits, no lifetime limits on coverage, affordable coverage for Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions) but these three seem to drive home my point.

So instead of beating the drum for repeal that it turns out you don't want -- call your newly elected congressman or congresswoman and tell them.

Here's what you'll say: "Hey, I just read this amazing blog post that explained a few of the benefits of health care reform and we should keep ObamaCare! In fact, I think you should read up about this thing too because it doesn't sound like you know what you're talking about. Keep up the good work!"

In the comments, let me know what lines you've used or heard to get health care reform opponents to button their lips.