Haslam Decision A Great Disappointment - And Response

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Governor Haslam has now declined the federal government’s offer of $12 billion that would provide health care coverage for approximately 200,000 lower-income Tennesseans who now are without any coverage.  Instead, the Governor says he is working towards a different way—the “Tennessee Plan”—to provide this health care support for our neediest neighbors. 

This decision is a great disappointment to a broad coalition of business, labor, religious, advocacy, and community groups that supported acceptance of the federal funds. Now, having made this decision to reject readily available federal tax dollars already paid by Tennesseans, the Governor has an enormous responsibility. First, he must provide details of how his “Tennessee Plan” would actually work—there are only the vaguest generalities in his rejection statement. Second, he must do whatever it takes to actually get the federal support he just rejected. This means working hard to hammer out an agreement with the federal government and it means working even harder to build the political support across Tennessee that will be needed to win approval by the Tennessee Legislature.  Nothing less is acceptable, given the enormous stakes involved.

As the Governor faces up to the challenge he has created for himself, he would do well to ponder what has happened to us as a caring and compassionate society. True, after a natural disaster, Tennesseans still rush forward to help those who suffered physical or material damage. But what about the hundreds of thousands of our Tennessee neighbors whose lives are ruined every day—year after year—by limited or no access to reliable health care? Do we even care about them, or do we cross to the other side of the road and simply look away?

How do we explain the enthusiastic applause by Tennessee legislators when the Governor announced his rejection of the federal support? Don’t they have any conception of the human lives and suffering that are at stake in this decision? Or do they simply not care what happens to the least among us?

And what about Governor Haslam? 

Frank Meeuwis
Madison, Tn. 

* * * 

After reading this morning about Governor Haslam’s total lack of humanity in his decision on TennCare, I had intended to write a lengthy piece about why his idea is such a disaster but then encountered this from Belen Fernandez, author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work and contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine, in her opinion column today on Al Jazeera Online:   

"The neoliberal experiment in the U.S. has helped mold a society disconnected from the human condition, where oppression of the individual has aimed to thwart popular solidarity that might threaten the experiment. What should be a universal right to health care, for example, is instead wielded punitively against the population, and, as acclaimed journalist and radio host Doug Henwood points out, 'Obamacare' will presumably result in a situation in which 'scores of millions are thrown onto the private individual insurance market and forced to pay $1,000 a month for crappy coverage.'" 

I find it nearly impossible to put it better.  TennCare, initiated by Democratic governor Ned McWherter, was intended as a show-piece of the Democratic Party’s program of pushing PPP’s, public-private partnerships.  These PPP’s were inflicted on the nation as a major facet of the agenda of the Clinton administration back in the 1990’s.   

Like every other neoliberal plan to destroy the gains of the New Deal and the Golden Age of Capitalism to which it led, TennCare has proven to be a miserable failure.  And now Governor Haslam’s answer to its critics is to do more of the same.  In addition to this obvious assault on common sense from that perspective, this plan ignores the fact that these companies were major players in the various debacles which brought down the economy at the end of 2007 and gave us the still continuing Great Recession. 

But what else can we expect of a man who bashed one of our state’s chief employers and producers of wealth?  I refer, of course, to Haslam’s response to Volkswagen’s impending institution of a workers’ council and likely corresponding invitation to the United Auto Workers to form a local at the plant.  That is exactly the war Volkswagen handles its labor relations in Germany and Haslam & Co. have no business messing with VW’s business. 

Of course, they already have done so with their law allowing workers to carry arsenals to their places of employment in their vehicles.  This in of the explicit testimony of numerous incidents of workplace multiple shootings and desires of companies such as VW to avoid those kinds of insanity which don’t happen  because (1) gun ownership is not as widespread both because of laws and differing temperaments, and (2) guns don’t kill people but Americans with guns kill a lot of people. 

Chuck Hamilton


Who Does Chattanooga Belong To, Anyway?

Last week I read two opinions that were based on good premises, but still contained irritating statements.  Under the title Downtown Needs Cleaned Up (August 24, 2016) was the argument, "Why invite tourists to come visit Chattanooga when our streets are a stinking bio-hazard?"  And a second to the motion, "Make downtown look good for the tourists."  Another ... (click for more)

Miracle League Of Chattanooga Needs A Miracle

The Miracle League of Chattanooga broke ground in May and  was scheduled to open in October, but will not be ready due to lack of funds. Kim Chapman Nolan and the board members have been working tirelessly to raise enough money for this "Field of Dreams" to become a reality.  This field gives opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball. The surface ... (click for more)

TBI Adds Jereme Little To Top 10 Most Wanted; Was Set Free By Judge Stern And Then Higher Court Overruled Her

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has added to its ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list Jereme Dannuel Little, who was freed by order of Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern, whose decision was recently reversed. Little is wanted by the Chattanooga Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for especially aggravated kidnapping. The TBI said, "Little has a history of ... (click for more)

Gaines Charged In Assault On Ex-Wife, MLK Boulevard Barber

Eric Lee Gaines has been arrested for an assault on his ex-wife and a well-known MLK Boulevard barber. Gaines, 33, of 2803 Curtis St., was charged with disorderly conduct, domestic assault, assault, burglary of a business, public intoxication and retaliation against an officer. In the incident on Thursday, police were summoned to MLK Boulevard on an intoxicated individual. ... (click for more)

Lookouts' Bullpen Failure Leads To Come-From-Behind Win For Suns Sunday

The Lookouts were in control of  Sunday  afternoon's game up until the eighth and ninth inning when the M-Braves scored three runs to beat Chattanooga, 5-4. Chattanooga's offense jumped out to an early lead after being sparked by leadoff hitter Zach Granite. Granite started the home half of the first with a base hit to right field, danced on and off of first base ... (click for more)

Mocs Volleyball Sweeps Chattanooga Classic

The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team completed their fourth 3-0 sweep of the weekend on Sunday afternoon against California State at Fullerton as part of the Chattanooga Classic – presented by Hampton Inn & Suites - held in Maclellan Gym. The Mocs came out swinging by winning the first set 25-11 and then went on to win 25-18 and 25-17 in sets two and three, respectively. ... (click for more)