TN GOP Rep. Smith Blames Rise in Youth Suicides on “Leftist Indoctrination”, Schools, Climate Science

There’s a lot going on right now, but we wanted to make sure to show you this remarkable post from TN GOP State Rep. Robin Smith (R-Chattanooga) in something called the Patriot Post, which was brought to our attention by former congressional candidate Chris Hale.

In the post Smith lays the rise in youth suicides at the feet of “leftist indoctrination” – apparently meaning schools, climate science, biology, and sex, coupled with her misguided sense of the Democratic platform as a whole.

Keep in mind, Smith was previously the chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, and recently ran for House caucus chair, so she’s not exactly a fringe player.

She starts out with a simple fact:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data this past week that youth suicide rates increased 56% from 2007 to 2017 among 10- to 24-year-olds.”

Smith then notes that the author of the article says “researchers aren’t certain” what exactly the causes are… but who needs research? The causes are clear to Rep. Smith:

“The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of this report includes the statement that researchers aren’t certain of the cause, yet factors such as a “rise in depression, drug use, stress and access to firearms” along with the influence of social media are cited as areas of interest and study.

Access to firearms” is not all that different from 50 years ago, but let’s take an honest look at the cultural forces and influences on our youth and young adults today that may offer some real causation, not just correlation…”

Notice how Smith doesn’t like the “access to firearms part”, so she throws that out – claiming it hasn’t changed in 50 years, when there is absolutely no evidence that’s the case.

Proliferation of firearms in America has continued over the last 50 years, so it would stand to reason that access to firearms for teens would increase along with that. Calling something “an honest look” doesn’t make it so. But we digress.

Smith then talks about the detachment that results from phone and social media addiction before pointing the finger squarely at our schools for teaching about science in the form of climate change, biology, and sex:

“Once our kids are out the door, they’re headed to middle school, high school, or some type of instruction in a two-year college or four-year university. And what do our kids encounter in their day at these “institutions of higher learning”? Of late, the message has been that the Earth will cease to exist in less than 12 years because of climate change. Our kids are told that it’s their right to determine their own gender rather than live within the capacity of their biological being while maximizing their gifts and talents. Too many students hear that life is a wad of cells until a baby is outside the mother’s womb and wanted by both the biological donors — formerly called the mother and father.

Students of all ages hear that part of growing up is being sexually active, having access to abortion as a type of birth control and part of a female’s health care, and that choosing a life of discipline, maturity, and restraint is not possible — much less a characteristic of an individual living at the fullest extent of their “rights.”

Smith’s use of quotations around “institutions of higher learning” are reminiscent of the calls for the abolition of state-sponsored higher learning by Republican senators Kerry Roberts and Mark Pody. When asked, Roberts claimed he was joking – but it has become clearer and clearer that doing away with state-backed higher education is a popular policy position in the TN GOP.

It’s one thing not to believe in Climate science, but linking gender, climate, and not calling parents a mother and father (say what?) to youth suicide is quite the stretch.

Smith then says our schools are “populated with activists”, and points to Democratic policy proposals like health care, education, and higher wages (the horror!) as somehow causes of suicide because they make kids “wards of the state”:

“Our institutions entrusted with the high trust of academic instruction are populated with activists who are invested in more than educational excellence and accomplishment and are now turning to the playbook seen in failing cultures of sameness for the common good and a posture of dependency rather than self-reliance. Don’t believe this? With the demands for “free” college tuition, free health care, a universal wage for those who don’t even work and for the express doctrine of this sameness to guarantee no individual excels above another, the role of government metastasizes to a cancer that consumes its host to pay for those who don’t excel and aren’t driven to self-reliance. Shorter, we’re teaching kids to be wards of the State.”

So helping kids learn, see doctors, and earn more money makes them want to take their own lives. Or something. Hoo-wee.

To clarify: “Free” college tuition means we pay for it with our taxes and our kids go to school, as we already do with lower education.

“Free health care” again would mean we pay taxes, and we get what we pay for – as opposed to now where we pay taxes, and premiums, and deductibles… and many are still going broke and dying for lack of coverage, especially here in Tennessee.

And say what you will about a universal basic income proposal – which has gained little traction in the Democratic Party – but it’s worth noting Smith opposes the Democratic proposal for a “living wage”, which means raising the $7.25 an hour minimum to a number people can actually live on.

Tennessee is #1 in % of minimum wage jobs, so that would actually help a lot of people.

The upshot of all of this is that Robin Smith may disagree with things like climate science, and biology, and making sure everyone can see a doctor when they get sick, and higher education, and paying people for their work – but blaming people who support those things for youth suicides with ZERO evidence? That’s unconscionable and downright shameful.

If Smith was really as pro-life as she claims to be, she should reverse her position on not expanding medicaid, which we know is killing people, or blocking common sense gun safety reform, which is also contributing to the deaths of many.

Teen suicide is a serious issue. It’s not something to baselessly politicize for the sake of scoring cheap political points.

Holler at Rep. Smith HERE if you agree.

The Beacon Center Tried to “Fact-Check” The Holler. It Did Not end Well For Them.

Something happened on Twitter today, and we felt the need to share it with the rest of Tennessee, in case anyone missed it.

The Beacon Center, a think tank/state policy group with ties to ALEC, which imposes union-busting, environment hurting, middle class-killing model legislation on the entire country on a regular basis, and the Koch brothers, who have done more damage to this planet and played an enormous role in our skyrocketing wealth inequality  –  appears to be quite infatuated with us here at the Holler.

First there was their podcast episode a few months back, in which they spent a good amount of time talking about us, seeming to concede that it was good to have a voice in Tennessee to present the other side of the narrative they’ve been pushing for years – a narrative in support of our current GOP supermajority, which touts our “fiscal conservatism” and “fiscal stability” while gleefully ignoring the fact that we’re #1 in rural hospital closures per capita, #1 in medical bankruptcies, at the bottom in infant mortality, opioid deaths, health care access, per pupil spending, the list goes on.

Recently we pointed out that while the Beacon Center and the politicians they control regularly vilify the “federal government” and paint it as a boogie monster, Tennessee is actually very dependent on that boogie monster. In fact, according to Governor Lee’s own budget, Tennessee gets nearly 40% of its budget from federal funding (39.9% in 2014, 37% in 2018, 36% in 2020).

Yes, “fiscally stable” Tennessee is one of the most dependent states in the union, which means we are VERY good at managing other people’s money.

Don’t take it from us, take it from the Nashville Business journal, or Knoxville News.

A simple Google search should’ve turned those up, but the Beacon Center appears to have a hard time believing this reality, and seized upon that tweet of ours last week which included a study that said exactly what those others have said.

Stephanie Whitt, whose Twitter bio calls her an “EVP” at the Beacon Center (right next to the extremely overused words “individual freedom and liberty”, which never seem to apply to the freedom to marry whoever you choose, or control your own reproductive fate, or use medical marijuana to ease your pain… it’s only “freedom” when it’s stuff they like… but we digress…)

Stephanie took it upon herself to sit down and “fact check” the study we posted, a study that lined up with all other available information, and attempt to “debunk” the notion that Tennessee is one of the most dependent states.

Stephanie declared:

“This study is not only misleading in the way it calculates federal dependency. It’s just plain wrong. Here are the reasons why.”

Her argument included 3 bullet points, leading off with the notion that for some reason we shouldn’t use percentages when calculating dependency, we should use total budget:

“The study calculates dependency based on a percentage of a state’s budget. Basically, this means that because Tennessee has less revenue (see lower taxes), it will appear to take more federal dollars if the study is just based on a percentage of that state’s budget. This means a state taking more federal money (California cough cough), but taxing their residents at a much higher rate would score “better” than a low tax state taking the same amount or less federal money.”

Um, yes, Stephanie. This is how percentages work. The more federal funds we take in relative to our own dollars, the higher the dependency. How this can be presented as a “reason” the study is wrong does not become clear until point 2, which is really one for the ages:

“Dollar for dollar, Tennessee is nowhere near the top of the list taking federal tax dollars. California for example receives $436 billion in total revenue from the federal government vs. Tennessee’s $76 billion.”

Stephanie is already way off the rails here. She ignores 2 very important points: That California PUTS IN much more than we do, and that California has MILLIONS MORE PEOPLE than we do.

The idea that “total revenue” is a better measure of dependency than looking at the amount we put in vs. the amount we take out defies logic: If the federal government were to stop sending money to Tennessee, Tennessee would have a 36%-sized hole blown in its budget. That’s what dependency looks like.

The same is not true for California, which puts in more than it takes out.

This is not going well for Stephanie.

She goes on to point 3, her final point, the big finish:

“The Rockefeller Institute of Government published a report in January 2019 titled “Giving or Getting? New York’s Balance of Payments with the Federal Government,” which shows what states give to the federal government versus what they receive. If you remove grants, contracts, and federal employee wages (like TVA employees) from the equation to get a true calculation of what Tennessee gives vs. what it receives, it shows we give virtually the same amount in tax dollars per capita as we receive back ($7,764 paid per capita and receives $7,807). We definitely pay our fair share and receive a fair share of our tax dollars back from the federal government for Tennessee residents.”

Wait – what? If you REMOVE grants, contracts, TVA employees… you get a “TRUE CALCULATION”?

So we should ignore all the ways Tennessee benefits from the federal government, the impact of the TVA and other federal government programs on our state, and that will paint a “TRUER” picture of how Tennessee does or doesn’t depend on the federal government?

This appears to be what the Beacon Center spends all day doing – finding ways to spin actual numbers and facts to fit a perverted view of how the world works so they can feel better about doing everything they can to keep government from helping the people who actually need it.

Their argument about dependency is so deeply flawed one can only imagine they actually believe it.

It would be almost funny if it wasn’t so damn sad. Tennessee is in bad shape. We have a rural health care crisis raging on, but instead of expanding medicaid and covering 300,000 Tennesseans while helping to fight the opioid crisis that’s ravaging our state, and keeping the lights on in some of these rural hospitals that are closing unnecessarily – mostly in non-expansion states – the Beacon center is lying to themselves about the uselessness of percentages and pretending we don’t rely far more on the federal government to survive than we do.

Their superpower appears to be creating an alternate universe for themselves in which Tennessee is thriving, and every county is Williamson County. We’d humbly suggest that they should take a drive into the rural parts of the state once in a while – and they will see that is very much not the case.

We need to expand Medicaid. We’ve lost $7 billion and counting.

But more importantly, people like Stephanie and her pals at the Beacon center need to take a long look in the mirror, realize that this isn’t a damn game and that people are actually being harmed by their policies… and go back and take a few math classes while they’re at it.

Also, keep following us. Maybe you’ll learn something.

Ogles & Casada Skip Williamson County “Legislative Update”

This morning in Franklin was the monthly Williamson County “Legislative Update”, hosted by Williamson Inc.

The event was called a “Town Hall” until recently, but the name was apparently changed after former State House candidate Rebecca Purington called them out for calling it a “Town Hall” without actually taking questions.

Fair point, Rebecca.

They stopped taking questions after Ashley Massey stood up and pinned Williamson legislators to the wall about their silence about Rep. David Byrd, who has apologized on tape to 1 of 3 women who say he molested them in high school.

Byrd remains in office to this day, but how long he lasts remains to be seen since his chief protector Glen Casada will be resigning his speakership in shame in the coming days.

Casada was not at the “Legislative Update”, apparently getting some sun in Greece.

Casada’s pal Brandon Ogles also skipped the meeting, letting the organizers know at 530AM this morning that he had a sudden “rotator cuff ” injury. (mm hmmmm)

 

The only Williamson legislators to show up were Sam Whitson and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Below are some clips of a few of the subjects they covered.

Whitson talked about the passage of the Katie Beckett Waiver, which keeps parents of disabled children from having to make impossible decision to keep their kids on insurance.

No word on why that logic shouldn’t apply to the 300,000 other Tennesseans faced with the very same decisions, who don’t have insurance because of the Republican refusal to expand Medicaid, which costs Tennessee billions of dollars each year.

After the meeting Senator Johnson answered our question about the “Heartbeat Bill”, which seeks to ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, and makes no exceptions for rape or incest – which means a raped teenage girl would have to carry her rapist’s child to term.

The film industry has recently said they w0n’t do business in Georgia if their similar bill becomes law. When asked what Johnson would say to industries that may have the same issue with Tennessee  were Tennessee’s bill to pass, his answer:

“Go back to California.”

VIDEO: Rep. Jim Cooper Fires Up The Crowd At The CLC Lunch

This week Rep. Jim Cooper visited the Central Labor Council lunch in Nashville and spoke to a rapt audience about the need for unity and togetherness in the coming election, when the labor movement would be a key part of a “winning strategy” in the hopes of preserving key programs like Medicare and social security.

Cooper spoke about rampant inequality the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Gilded Age, acknowledged that the system isn’t fair, but reminded everyone that “the rich people are out there voting”.

Watch the HIGHLIGHTS:

(another) BAD WEEK FOR WORKING WOMEN

Republican lawmakers on the House Employee Affairs Subcommittee rejected four bills that would improve working conditions for women and families in Tennessee—all in less than an hour.

Read more

RESPONSE: Mark Green & Co. Are the Real “Radicals”

Justin Kanew ran for Congress against Rep. Mark Green in the 7th District in 2018. He wrote this in response to Green’s op-ed in the Tennessean this week, where Green asked: “Are the Democrats Ok With The Party’s Leftward March?”

First of all – Hi, Mark! Been a while. I haven’t seen you since you were refusing to debate me in our congressional race.

Since then we saw each other in Franklin, where you accused me of falsely accusing you of leading the fight against Medicaid expansion (despite your own endorsement saying you did),  while also saying it was wrong of me to point out that you did it while declaring government programs like Medicaid “keep people from a saving knowledge of who God is”.

These “Radical” statements are all on video… the tape doesn’t lie…


What makes it even more unconscionable is that you yourself were on a state health care plan. But I digress.

I’m writing here to answer the question you just posed in the Tennessean, where you asked: “Are the Democrats Ok With The Party’s Leftward March?”

You must’ve sat down to write that after your grandstanding at the Michael Cohen hearing, where you oddly didn’t seem to care at all about the multiple crimes the president may have committed – which most Americans believe he has.

Sorry, there I go digressing again.

Ok, let’s get down to it. I’m here to address your question. In short, the answer is a resounding YES.

YES, I’m ok with Democrats attempting to address the very serious problems of Gilded Age levels of inequality and climate change, which your party continues to claim is a hoax on behalf of the billionaires who finance your campaigns despite the fact that their own science has been telling them climate change is real for decades.

(Say hi to the Kochs for me, by the way. Maybe you’ll see them at your next ALEC meeting.)

You and I both just ran for congress in TN-7. If you were looking out the window as you went from photo op to photo op you may have noticed the harsh truth that not every county in Tennessee is Williamson County.

Rural Tennessee is hurting. But instead of doing everything within your power to help keep uninsured Tennesseans and rural hospitals afloat through medicaid expansion, or extending a helping hand to regular folks through a living wage, real tax relief, standing with unions, etc. – you mock every effort to help everyday Tennesseans as “socialism”.

Let’s be clear: “Socialism” is literally “a government takeover of the means of production”.

Nobody is advocating for that.

What I and almost every progressive I know actually want is to level the playing field and stop the over-concentration of wealth and power you and your pals facilitate at every turn.

You mock the Green New Deal, but I’ll take an over-ambitious plan to deal with the harsh realities we face over a corrupt deal with the Big Everything devil any day of the week. (Reminder: One of us refused PAC money of any kind during our race, and it wasn’t you.)

One can only imagine what you would have said about FDR’s New Deal, which most of your constituents have greatly benefitted from for generations, which helped bring us OUT of the Great Depression – a depression outrageous levels of inequality and policies like the ones you support helped get us into.

A refresher: The New Deal included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA)…

…It provided support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly…

…It included new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry… and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen sharply…

You would’ve HATED it.

As for the specifics of the Green New Deal you mock, let’s talk about what you actually said:

“The visionaries behind this massive bill are hoping to eliminate air travel, gut and rebuild every building in America, eliminate 99% of cars, eliminate nuclear energy and ban affordable energies like natural gas.”

This is obviously a childish over-exaggeration and mischaracterizes it completely. Hard not to wonder if you’ve even actually read it.

The Green New Deal isn’t a bill. It’s a non-binding resolution. A set of goals. A starting point, and a good one.

It’s a broad outline of how to achieve objectively positive, popular outcomes like universal health care, truly full employment, and 100% renewable energy- lifting up people who need lifting up in very real ways.

And you’re against all of it.

Nobody is eliminating planes. Nobody is eliminating cars.

The fact that you have to resort to these untruths about what the Green New Deal actually is just goes to show how little the truth actually means to you.

On Universal Health Care, which every single industrialized nation has except for us, you seem to have no use for it whatsoever. There are a number of different ideas about how to get to Universal Health Care – where people would be able to see a doctor when they get sick rather than a bankruptcy attorney – and you support none of them.

Instead you talk about Health Savings Accounts, which sound nice but do nothing to cover more vulnerable Tennesseans, and you support Block Grants, which do nothing to help rural hospitals (and also happen to be illegal and are opposed by Children’s hospitals).

Meanwhile Tennessee loses nearly $4 Million every DAY by not expanding Medicaid, which was in large part your handiwork, keeping hundreds of thousands uninsured and letting rural hospitals close.

Governor Haslam calls it one of his biggest regrets.

Meanwhile, you mock others who try to actually address the problem.

This is what you – a doctor – had to say about Bernie’s “Medicare For All” plan, which is just one of a number of ideas about how to get to universal coverage:

“Cautious estimates of the cost of Sanders’ plan start at $32.6 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Even if we implement the most aggressive tax plan to seize and redistribute wealth from the top 1 percent we only raise $720 billion over 10 years, or 2 percent of what Medicare for All costs. And, keep in mind our revenue over that same period will only be approximately $40 trillion – unless, of course, this bill is passed and we tailspin towards a second Great Depression.”

Newsflash Doc, much of this country is already hurting. I know you spent much of our race in hiding, but if you had come to Columbia when Remote Area Medical was in town you would’ve seen hundreds of people lined up in a parking lot at 5AM just to see a doctor- because they literally couldn’t afford to get care any other way.

Remote Area Medical visited Knoxville recently too:

Over half this country can’t withstand a $400 emergency without going broke.

This is not how it should be in the richest country in the world. I challenge you to go to one of these RAM sites and tell these families you’re the one who “led the fight” to keep them from having health coverage.

As for the cost of Medicare For All – you convenienently left out that it would mean NO MORE PREMIUMS OR DEDUCTIBLES, and that what we have now is ALREADY too expensive.

We spend 18% of our GDP on Health Care while the next highest country spends 12%, and that $32.6 Trillion number you cited is actually LESS than the estimates of what our current system costs, according to a conservative think tank’s estimate.

Another gross mischaracterization.

Not to mention the savings that would come from suffering Tennesseans being able to see a doctor before their ailments get worse and more expensive.

I happen to believe we need something like our education system, where everyone has access to a baseline of Medicare or something like it (a la public schools), and then those who can afford it can buy private insurance for themselves (a la private schools).

But we need to cover everyone. It’s time.

Which brings us to your first point, which I’m saving for last because I find it the most gruesome. This is what you said about the Democratic position on “late-term abortion”:

“Let’s begin with infanticide. Are Democrats truly accepting killing babies outside the womb now? A Democrat head of a state, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, last month casually defended it.

He explained to radio listeners that an infant already delivered “would be kept comfortable” while a mother and doctor discussed letting the child die. When pressed for clarification, he explained that the scenario he envisioned involved a baby with deformities.

Assuming he meant Down syndrome or something similar – this is an outrageous claim. If you go and ask people with Down syndrome – they think they’re life is worth living.”

I’ll start with a concession: Northam’s words were clumsy.

No, Democrats should not be for “killing babies outside the womb”, as you put it. And they are not. No Democrat I know is for infanticide.

But nonviable births are not “infanticide”.

Do you know a mother who has gone through something like that, Mark? I do. A good friend of mine.

I challenge you to call her a murderer to her face, if that’s what you believe. She’s in Lawrenceburg. She lives with the pain of losing a child every single day. You’ve met her.

You say “assuming he meant Down syndrome or something similar” – that’s one HELL of an assumption, doc. For a doctor, no less.

You know damn well that’s not what a nonviable birth is.

So yes, Democrats are AGAINST “killing babies outside the womb” and “late term abortions”.

We’re also AGAINST forcing women who have been raped to carry their rapist’s baby to term… and FOR expanding medicaid… and FOR common sense gun safety legislation… and FOR making birth control available… and FOR subsidizing day care for low income women… and FOR raising the wage to a living one… and FOR real tax reform that will put more money in the pockets of your constituents rather than corporations and the wealthy.

These are all “pro-life” positions. You’re against ALL of them.

And every last one of them has the support of a vast majority of Americans.

Who’s the “Radical” again?

You mock these ideas as “socialism”, which either means you failed civics, or you’re not quite as committed to the truth as you say you’d like Michael Cohen to be.

You also mock the idea of giving jobs to those willing to work to rebuild our country, which is another popular idea (as is The Green New Deal by the way!) and you do it in the name of *fiscal responsibility*  while the president you refuse to criticize has exploded the deficit to hand tax cuts to people who need it the least – like him, and you.

So in summation: If a “leftward march” means supporting health care for the people of our district, dealing with inequality in a real way to help real Tennesseans, and addressing the issue of climate change head-on for the sake of our children rather than burying our heads in the sand at the behest of the Koch brothers… then count me all the way in.

It’s not a “leftward” march. It’s a forward march.

I’ll take progress over greed any day of the week.

As this country gets younger and more inclusive, this is what the people want. Just because you call it “socialism” doesn’t make it so.

In the meantime, enjoy the $8 Billion farmer bailout that you for some reason don’t count as “socialism”, and the constitution-shredding *national emergency* you support. I’m sure the Fort Campbell School and other Clarksville-area projects it would take $132 Million from will be just fine.

So if by “Radical” you mean we support drastic measures to address the significant challenges we face, then yes we’re the radicals. But if by “Radical” you mean extremely out of step with the majority of this country – and yes, Tennessee – on most of these issues, then it’s you who is the “Radical”, sir.

Wanting to help people isn’t “Radical”, Mark. “Radical” is blocking medicaid expansion while saying government programs give suffering Tennesseans the opportunity to know God.

And history will not remember the Radical things you’re doing here kindly.

(P. S. – I enjoy that you cited Obama as a centrist at the end of your op-ed. Nice to see you’ve dropped your birtherism act. You, sir, are no John Mccain  – no wonder he helped block your Army Secretary bid. Not even getting to a senate hearing with a Republican-controlled congress? Talk about “Radical”.)

REACTIONS: BIPARTISAN BLOWBACK TO CASADA’S BLOATED BUDGET

Yesterday the Tennessean put out a scathing report of the skyrocketing cost of running the Tennessee State House under Speaker Glen Casada, who fancies himself a “fiscal conservative” but clearly does not walk the walk.

From the Tennessean:

“Since House Speaker Glen Casada became the chamber’s leader, the size and cost of running the Tennessee General Assembly is increasing, forcing the lower chamber’s leader to ask the governor for an additional $7 million.”

The report from Joel Ebert points to staff fees like the $130,000 raise (!) he gave his Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, an outrageous number by any stretch of the imagination.

Cothren now makes just shy of $200,000 to run the Speaker’s office. As a reminder, the legislature is in session for approximately one-third of the year each year.

From Ebert’s report:

“Cothren earns $199,800 a year. Last year, when Casada was the House majority leader, Cothren made $68,400 as an executive assistant and policy researcher… 31-year-old Cothren is the third-highest paid legislative employee, behind Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey and Rick Nicholson, McNally’s chief of staff… Cothren has worked for state government since 2013. Nicholson and Humphrey first started working for the state in 1995 and 1998, respectively… Cothren makes more money than Lee’s chief of staff and all but three commissioners in the governor’s 23-member Cabinet… And his salary is significantly higher than the last three House chiefs of staff.”

(Cothren was last seen lying to the face of a protester of the bust of the first KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest about misspelled emails.)

Regarding the office of the Speaker, the article goes on:

“It costs more than $5.1 million to pay for the salaries of employees in those offices, the analysis found. At this time last year, salaries for those same House offices cost taxpayers about $3.8 million.

If you have an issue with this, holler at Casada HERE.

In the meantime, here are some reactions from Tennesseans from both parties across the state… Despite Majority Leader William Lamberth playing the good soldier and calling the increased size and cost of operations in the House “extremely conservative” (apparently forgetting what words mean) the reaction to the article on both sides of the aisle has been one of shock and disgust:

Rep. Mike Stewart, the House Democratic caucus chairman, had this to say:

“It sounds like fiscal conservatism means about as much with Tennessee Republicans as it does with the Republicans up in Washington.”

Madison County Commissioner, District 9 – Republican Jay Bush:


Democratic State Senator Jeff Yarbro:


Democratic State Rep. Gloria Johnson (who says she still hasn’t received a $3 key to her office!):


Longtime political operative Holly Mccall (who contributes to the Holler):

Williamson County Tweeter @StormResist:


Former State House Candidate Allan Creasy:


From John Harris, who manages Tennessee Firearms Association, Inc.:

MUST BE NICE: New Nashville Tenant AMAZON Paid ZERO % In Taxes

The same week that we saw New York rise up behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against $3 Billion in corporate giveaways to Amazon, forcing Amazon to change its mind about setting up shop there, we now have a report from the Institute of Tax and Economic Policy which tells us that despite doubling their profits to $11 Billion last year, Amazon will still pay an incredible 0% in Federal taxes this year.]

Must be nice!

This is the 2nd year in a row the Trillion-Dollar company will pay 0%. Here’s a good thread on what Amazon was getting and why the backlash happened.

The report goes on to say this about the Republican “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”, which made the claim that despite cutting the corporate tax rate almost in half from 35% to 21%, it would somehow incentivize corporate citizenship and investment:

“The tax law failed to broaden the tax base or close a slew of loopholes that allow profitable companies to routinely avoid paying federal and state income taxes on almost half of their profits… included lavish new giveaways… a huge revenue loser.”

Meanwhile the federal debt, which Republicans claim to be very concerned about despite the fact that their new tax law exploded the deficit, has just crossed the $22 Trillion mark, and many Americans are reporting that they’re feeling it in their tax refunds.

All while inequality is at levels not seen since the days leading up the The Great Depression, CEO pay has skyrocketed, and corporate stock buybacks – not investment and wages – are at all-time highs.

If you’re wondering why things like the Green New Deal are being proposed, look no further.

Instead of mocking ideas that seek to fix these problems, maybe those people should focus on the fact that most economic incentives are given to the biggest corporations while monopolization and the centralization of wealth are killing the everyday American, especially in rural America. 

And let’s not forget about Wisconsin’s disastrous FoxConn boondoggle, where Koch brother favorite GOP Governor Scott Walker gave away billions to a company that has now had a change of heart, leaving Wisconsin taxpayers holding the bag.

This is something to keep an eye on as Amazon comes to Nashville, causing prices to spike for the people who are already there. The Republicans like to say we have low unemployment in Tennessee, which we do, but we’re also toward the bottom in how well our jobs pay.

$7.25 simply isn’t enough to live on, and Tennessee Republicans are the ones who refuse to raise the wage to a living one.

As Rep. Jason Hodges talked about in our interview with him, incentives may be necessary sometimes, but if companies want our support, they should have to pay our people a living wage.

Holler at the mayor and the governor to let them know we have our eye on the situation.

President Rewards Campaign Donor By Pressuring TVA

Yesterday, in a tweet, President Trump publicly pressured the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep a coal-fired power plant open even though the TVA has concluded the plant is unreliable, no longer needed, and too expensive to repair and operate.

The TVA board is slated to vote on the future of Paradise Unit 3 in just a few days, which is why the pressure is coming now.

Paradise Unit 3 just so happens to get the bulk of its coal from a subsidiary of Murray Energy, a mining company whose CEO Robert Murray, is a major Trump supporter who has asked the president to take other actions to help the ailing coal industry, particularly in regions where he sells coal. (Imagine that!)

This kind of pay-to-play has proven to be par for the course in this administration, but it doesn’t make it any less noteworthy. Murray gave $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration, and Trump is on track to meet most of his demands.

The list of Trump donors who have issued demands is as long as the day.

Rachel Maddow had a segment on it last night, calling it “simple corruption”:

Trump isn’t alone. Kentucky’s Governor is pressuring the TVA also – calling it a “national defense issue”, as is Mitch McConnell.

This is all just more of our politicians, who get large amounts of their campaign funding from the Koch brothers networks and others in the oil and gas industry, doing all they can to prop up the coal industry despite its obvious decline, more economically sound alternatives are on the rise.

From the Courier-Journal:

At a pro-coal rally over the weekend, the governor joined representatives of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul and other Kentucky officials to pressure the TVA board, which meets this week, to keep burning Kentucky-mined coal at the Paradise plant.

“We sit on hundreds of years of supply of the most reliable, most stable, most affordable source of electricity production that the world has ever known,” Bevin said. “There is no capacity now if we shut this facility and others like it to provide what America needs.”

The new environmental assessment by TVA, however, found that energy demand in the utility’s Southeast region was “flat to declining.” The study concluded that “the retirement of a unit with high maintenance and other costs would facilitate TVA’s statutory mission to provide reliable power at the lowest system cost.”

STATE OF THE STATE: Unhealthy, Impoverished, Underfunded Ed, Low Pay… But Cheap!

Our friends at Think Tennessee have just put out their yearly breakdown of where Tennessee stacks up with the other states on important things like opioid prescriptions (49th), poverty (41st), education funding (45th), Adult diabetes (45th), infant mortality (47th), mental health providers (45th) life expectancy (44th), and much more.

Some people are doing very well in our state, but on the whole the news is really not very good. We’re unhealthy, there’s a lot of poverty, our education is underfunded, and the jobs – although we have them – don’t pay well.

We deeply appreciate that Think Tennessee does this, and have made a video out of what they’ve found. If you enjoy it, feel free to share on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or anywhere else you spend your time.