Government Shutdowns - My Personal Lesson

Friday, October 11, 2013 - by David Fowler

There are a handful of people in America, comparatively speaking, who have been part of a civil government shutdown as a politician. I am one of them.  Here’s what I learned and here’s what I think about what’s going on in Washington. 

The parallels between the government shutdown of which I was a part as a Tennessee state Senator are strikingly similar in principle — though not in size — to what is going on in Washington.

Like in Washington, where funding ObamaCare seems to be the major issue, just one central issue in Tennessee led to the shutdown in 2002.  In my case, the issue was an income tax.  Those who controlled the legislative process in Tennessee that session wanted to use the crisis of decreased revenue from an economic downturn to impose an income tax on Tennesseans. 

Similarly, even as the major media outlets all back ObamaCare, major media then in Tennessee (except for a couple of talk radio shows in Nashville and Knoxville) supported the income tax.

As in Washington, Tennessee’s Democratic legislative leaders, who controlled the flow of legislation at the state Capitol, would not let a budget get to the floor of the state House or Senate that would reduce spending or raise revenue by a means other than an income tax.  It was income tax or the highway. 

So a majority of the legislature, us little guys, said to the leadership: “We’re taking the next exit ramp off your one-way street.”  And state government essentially ground to a halt for several days.

What many don’t realize is that one of the things that finally killed the income tax bill was a proposal I offered that would have allowed Tennesseans to vote on whether they wanted an income tax.  Here’s why it became the final nail in the coffin of the income tax coffin, and the lesson I learned that I would commend to conservatives in Washington. 

When it came to the income tax, it took a few days for reality to set in, but legislative leaders knew eventually,  — probably the next election — they would be challenged to explain why they were so dead set on imposing an income tax, when there was a means by which the people could vote on it.

Who wants to run for re-election on the platform of stuffing something down the throat of people that they don’t want, and being willing to shut down the government to do so? 

Likewise, I think the same will prove true with what has been going on in Washington these two weeks.  Democrats will soon realize that in the next election they will need to explain why they were willing to shut down the government in order to shove an increasingly unpopular ObamaCare down the throat of the average American while giving big business a pass for another year.

How ironic.   The President who campaigned as the champion of the little guy and painted Mitt Romney as the evil champion of big business is sticking it to the little guy while protecting big business. 

So, as the shutdown lingers, Republicans must say repeatedly until they are blue in the face that there is only one reason for this train wreck:  an insistence by our President and the Democratic Senate majority to stick the average American with an unaffordable bureaucratic system to deliver health care.  And then ask the American people why they should trust this administration to deliver health care when it can’t even deliver a functional website?

The encouraging news is that the average American is beginning to wake up.  Some are beginning to revolt in their own little ways like: 

The man who re-opened his restaurant located on federal land;

The veterans who removed the barricades to the open-air monument that honored them; and 

The student who tore up his government-approved graduation speech and led the audience in the Lord’s Prayer. 

Perhaps the American spirit that said no to their oppressors in England 237 years ago is beginning to rise again against their oppressors in Washington.  I say, “Let it rise.”



I Know Kenny Smith

I’m writing in response to comments by City Councilman Larry Grohn about Kenny Smith. I don’t know Mr. Grohn, but I know Kenny Smith.  Kenny told me he met Grohn once but doesn’t know him.   If Grohn really knew Kenny Smith, he’d know Kenny pushed for expanded vocational education while on the School Board and is intent on pushing for it on the County Commission. ... (click for more)

Keep Judge Christie Sell On The Bench

Judge Christie Mahn Sell is a local Chattanoogan who has never been anything but a positive and influential leader in our community. I have known Christie most of my life, and I can attest to her integrity and character. Since Christie’s election as the first woman judge to General Sessions Court in 2006, she has focused on improving awareness and education of domestic violence ... (click for more)

EPB Says It Did Not Overbill The City; Says City Got $685,877 Break

EPB officials said Tuesday that an exhaustive audit of its street light contract with the city showed that it did not overbill the city. Instead, it said it found that the city was underbilled $685,877. EPB said it only goes back one year on errors so the amount owed by the city would be $178,314. Officials said that would be discussed with the city. Stan Sewell, the city's ... (click for more)

Citizens To Comment Next Tuesday On Sound Control Ordinance That Allows Higher Sound Around Downtown Clubs

Citizens will be allowed to comment next Tuesday on a new Sound Control Ordinance that allows higher sound from nightclubs in a downtown Controlled Sound Boundary. Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo, that has drawn the wrath of some nearby Southside residents, is within the boundary, which goes along the river on the north and west, to around Erlanger Hospital on the ... (click for more)

Vols Open 2018 Season Against West Virginia In Charlotte

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.   – The Charlotte Sports Foundation announced Tuesday that the Tennessee Volunteers will open the 2018 season on September 1 against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. All information related to kickoff date, time and tickets will be announced at ... (click for more)

Ooltewah's Williams Signs With Northwest Missouri

Ooltewah’s Mike Williams, one of District 5-AAA’s most respected wide receiver threats in 2013, has signed a football scholarship with Northwest Missouri State, the defending NCAA Division II national champion. Williams chose the Bearcats, members of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Conference, over Carson-Newman, in Jefferson City, Tenn., and Paine College, in Augusta ... (click for more)