Here’s some comments emailed to media on Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to reject a state-operated Health Care Exchange. News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Bill Haslam announced today that Tennessee would not be setting up a state-based health exchange as called for under the Affordable Care Act. His decision will result in the federal government taking over responsibility for creating a health insurance marketplace for Tennessee consumers and small businesses.
“I’m disappointed to see the Governor pandering to the far right of his party rather than doing what is best for the people of Tennessee,” said Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “I would hate to know that I had a 70 percent approval rating statewide, and couldn’t get my own party to support my initiatives.”
State-based exchanges have enjoyed bi-partisan support historically. Former Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) wrote in an op-ed recently that it would be “best for Tennessee to develop its own exchange because exchanges are an innovative, market-driven strategy, which foster competition, choice, cost-savings and quality among insurers.”
“It is disappointing that our Governor found it too difficult to do what 23 other states have begun to do – implement their own health insurance exchange,” said Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “In the end, if Governor Haslam was unable to convince his party to reject partisan politics and do the right thing, perhaps it was best for him to allow the federal government to begin setting up an exchange for him.”
While Governor Haslam’s decision to leave health care exchanges to the federal government takes this issue off the table, Democrats will continue to push for Tennessee to participate in the federally funded Medicaid expansion that would cover an additional 330,000 souls.
“While the Governor is able to fall back on the federal government to handle these health care exchanges, he won’t be able to shirk the responsibility for participating in the Medicaid expansion,” said Leader Fitzhugh. “If we don’t participate in the new Medicaid program, we’ll be leaving $10.5 billion in federal dollars on the table. Punting on this issue would hurt Tennessee businesses, working families, and rural hospitals.”
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
COALMONT, Tenn. — A GOP congressman’s discussion with his mistress about getting an abortion has stirred unease in his conservative, rural district, and his Democratic challenger is now trying to convert that disappointment into votes.
However, some in the 4th District are sticking by freshman Rep. Scott DesJarlais and dismissing the decade-old transcript of a phone conversation as a smear tactic.
Early voting ahead of the Nov. 6 election began Wednesday, a week after the district learned of the transcript of DesJarlais arguing with the woman, who had also been under his care as a doctor.
“It doesn’t affect my thinking,” said Alf Adams, 85, a retired lawyer from Beersheba Springs. “Because I think he’s done a good job — and I think it’s probably a smear attack.”
DesJarlais, who is seeking re-election on a conservative platform that opposes abortion rights, has acknowledged that the conversation happened and that he suggested traveling to Atlanta to get an abortion.
He explains it away by saying he used stark language to push the woman to admit she wasn’t pregnant. He claims now there was no pregnancy or abortion.
And while the transcript includes DesJarlais telling the woman he’s hoping to save his marriage, he says she shouldn’t be called his mistress because he and his wife had agreed they could date others while separated.
“I am not trying to justify my actions or say that I am without fault,” DesJarlais said in an open letter to supporters. “But I am not the hypocrite my opponents and some liberal media outlets are portraying me as.”
The Chattanooga Times-Free Press and the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal both have weekend stories on the 4th Congressional District races, including comments of voters reacting – or in some cases not reacting – to revelations about Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais’ conversation on abortion with a woman after a sexual encounter.
Sample from the TFP report: Staunchly Republican and socially conservative, Rebecca Miller of Cleveland, Tenn., is troubled by the revelation that Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressured a woman with whom he’d been sexually involved to get an abortion.
“It’s extremely hypocritical,” the 23-year-old said. “You can’t argue with that at all.”
Miller is finding it difficult to take the apparently abortion rights phone call made by the Jasper physician to the unnamed woman and square it with his staunchly anti-abortion stance in speeches and his voting record in Congress.
The result is that Miller is considering leaving her ballot blank in the Nov. 6 election when it comes to the 4th District race. She wants to take a look first, though, at the positions of DesJarlais’ Democratic challenger, state Sen. Eric Stewart.
…David Wasserman, who follows U.S. House races for The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan publication that analyzes and handicaps federal races, said on Friday that the revelations’ impact on DesJarlais is an “open question.”
“We weren’t expecting this [4th District] to be a competitive race, but we’re keeping an open mind,” Wasserman said.
Another interesting commentary comes from conservative blogger David Oatney, commenting on DesJarlais’ defense of his remarks in the transcript. An excerpt: Here is a newsflash for the good Congressman: Whether there was an “agreement” or not, he was a married man and he was quite obviously sleeping around. Whether he thought that was acceptable behaviour at the time is irrelevant to whether or not this woman was his mistress. He was married, and this lady was his extra-marital love interest. The traditional term for a female extra-marital love interest is that she is a man’s mistress.
DesJarlais further states that his primary reason for bringing up the issue of his mistress having an abortion and for pushing the issue in such strong terms is because he says he believed that his mistress was lying about her pregnancy. Since DesJarlais is a doctor, he certainly may have had reason to suspect if the woman he was seeing was lying.
However, the honorable thing to do would not have been to push the issue of having an abortion, but to push the matter of parental responsibility. Since he and his then-wife were divorcing, there should have been no problem with him demanding to be a part of his unborn child’s life, and pressing the matter even while the child was still in the womb. Certainly if this writer were in a similar situation, he would demand to have a role in the life of his unborn child. Scott DesJarlais certainly had the ability and the resources to press his claim hard, and if his mistress was lying about being pregnant and he expected that, then the lie would certainly be revealed in very short order.
Instead, we are left with a recording of Scott DesJarlais (one that he now says he didn’t know was being made) seeming to insist that his mistress abort his unborn child. What’s the problem with that in light of what Scott DesJarlais is now telling us? Because the one thing DesJarlais isn’t saying is that his actions were completely wrong and inconsistent with his belief system, and that he was and now remains truly sorry for his behavior.
Devaney Cheers Release from Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney:
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney released the following statement on the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate:
“Paul Ryan is the right choice to serve as Governor Romney’s running mate. Ryan has immense experience, including a knowledge and grounding on fiscal issues and the economy, something we are sorely lacking at Pennsylvania Avenue currently. Romney and Ryan will make a great team for the USA.” Forrester Jeers Release from Tennessee Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester:
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued a statement following Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate.
“There’s no doubt what Romney-Ryan politics would mean for Tennessee – budget-busting tax breaks for the wealthy, greater burdens for working families, fewer health care options for women, and less security for seniors who’ve worked their whole lives for some peace of mind.
“Tennesseans wholly reject the Romney-Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it and shift millions of dollars in health care costs to Tennessee seniors through a paltry voucher scheme.
“Our children and our economy simply cannot afford the deep cuts Romney and Ryan want to make education — from Head Start to college aid. These are investments that are critical to a safe and secure future for all Tennesseans.
“The Romney-Ryan ticket would also giveaway a $250,000 tax cut to millionaires and billionaires at a time we should be working together to balance our budget.
“The Romney-Ryan plan is irresponsible and outrageous. Moreover, it’s just plain wrong for Tennessee.”
Haslam Will Give Decision Top-to-Bottom Review
Statement from Gov. Bill Haslam his communications office: “We will review the entire Supreme Court’s opinion to fully understand its impact on the State of Tennessee. From initial reports, it appears the individual mandate has been ruled Constitutional and has been upheld.
My primary issues with ObamaCare are that it takes away the flexibility for states to encourage healthy behavior, will cost Tennessee hundreds of millions of dollars, and does nothing to solve the crisis of the cost of health care in America.
What was unanticipated is the section of the opinion that says states cannot be forced to expand their Medicaid program. This particular portion of the ruling is significant, but it is premature to know the exact ramifications.
Now it is up to Tennesseans and Americans to turn their attention to the November election. By electing Mitt Romney, we can be sure that the entire law will be repealed.” Ramsey: ‘Intensely Disappointing‘ From Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office:
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey made the following statement after the Supreme Court upheld The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 decision: “It is intensely disappointing that this court failed to recognize what constitutionalists and conservatives know deep in their hearts: A federal government which can coerce its people to buy a product is a government unrestrained and out of control. Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen called Obamacare the ‘mother of all unfunded mandates’ and stated it will cost Tennesseans 1.1 billion dollars in the next few years. However, the fight does not end here. The court may have made its decision today but the people have yet to speak. When they do, Mitt Romney will be elected president and I will do all I can to aid him as he fulfills his solemn promise to repeal this insidious law.”
President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan received a lukewarm reaction from Tennessee’s lawmakers Thursday nigh, according to a roundup of reaction by Gannet newspapers in the state. Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville said the president “made a good high-energy speech to get America back on track,” but the state’s Republican lawmakers reacted more critically.
…Sen. Lamar Alexander, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said the president’s policies “have thrown a big, wet blanket over job creation in this country and, unfortunately, I didn’t hear much in his speech tonight that will change that.”
Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump said he was “disappointed this evening to hear that the president’s plan to tackle unemployment rates was largely more of the same.
” And Republican Rep. Phil Roe of Johnson City called the address “very partisan.”
“I saw a lot of finger-pointing in our direction during that speech,” he said.