Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris recently had a press release war of words over a report saying that Tennessee ranks 36th among states in caring for children. (Note: Both releases posted HERE.) Now they’ve continued it in the Commercial Appeal.
Briefly, Norris began with a press release declaring dissatisfaction with Tennessee’s No. 36 ranking and calling for action to improve child well-being in the state. Harris followed with a news release noting Republicans killed Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee program, which he says would have improved health care for thousands of children.
So, Norris then sent the CA an email decrying “the theatrics and muddled thinking evidenced by Senator Harris’ press release.” An excerpt:
We actually increased funding for health and education in this year’s budget which I sponsor, but Senator Harris voted against it. In fact, he voted against any and all funding for health and education this year!
What have the Democrats done?
I organized a Nutrition Caucus which helped provide food for thousands of Tennesseans, but I don’t recall seeing him at any of our food packaging events. The budget I passed this year actually provided additional funding for food banks everywhere across the state (and community health clinics by the way), but Senator Harris voted against it, too.
With a record like that, and press releases like his, the Democratic Leader demonstrates that it is he who can’t be taken too seriously.
And Harris responded to that:
Luckily I’m not as sensitive as some politicians. Look, the record speaks for itself. Republicans are in charge and in too many categories we’re not doing well. There are too few good ideas coming from the other side and too much fear of voting on tough issues, like Insure Tennessee.
I’m sympathetic a little. I think I understand why few in their party wanted to carry the legislation and why they wanted to avoid a vote on giving insurance to working Tennesseans, veterans, and those with lower-incomes. The extremists dominate their party and there is a widespread fear of taking tough votes. The nail that sticks out will quickly get hammered back in by the far right-wingers. No one is leading.