OPINION: ROWE TO REP. ROE – “You’ve let your country down.”

This column is the opinion of Chris Rowe, 2020 candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Follow Chris on Twitter here

Friday, we saw our president appear on national television and declare a state of emergency for an artificial border crisis. At the same time, he admitted that not only was it unnecessary, but that he knew it was an abuse of his power.

He asked the supreme court to support his decision anyway.

Many members of congress, regardless of their party affiliation – including our own Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander – saw this for the blatant “unconstitutional” act it was and decided not to back him.

Rep. Phil Roe on the other hand, in a move that added to a string of questionable decisions recently, has come out in support of the president’s illegal power play.

This is not a decision that should be taken lightly by Tennessee’s voters. We need to hold him accountable for his actions, particularly as a member of the party that purports itself to be in favor of the “Rule of Law.”

Therefore, Congressman Roe, I have an important issue to address: If law is to rule, then the onus falls to you to take the president to task for this action, and publicly rebuke it. We cannot simultaneously advocate for “law and order” while condoning the highest office in the land making a mockery of the same.

You’ve already supported multiple unconscionable actions by our president, including holding hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans hostage for an unnecessary wall. But declaring an unconstitutional “state of emergency” that will divert funds from actual emergencies and cost American lives should be a firm red line for anyone.

Many members of your party have already seen this for what it is, so I ask you now: can you somehow not see for yourself how damaging this is to our union? Or are you simply too afraid to stand up and fight for what’s right just because it may cost you a handful of votes?

Whichever it is, you’ve let your constituency down, you’ve let your country down, and it’s time to step up or move aside and let someone else show you how it’s done.

It’s this type of abdication of your responsibility to protect and uphold the Constitution which has directly led to my challenge for your seat, and I intend to be certain that voters remember your failure to serve them come election time.

Chris Rowe is a Democratic Candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Chris is a 6 year veteran of the Air Force, and a current graduate student at East Tennessee State University. 

Chris has decided to take money only from real people and small businesses, not from large corporations or super PACs, to ensure he remains free of any obligation to “big” anyone.

Holler at Rep. Roe HERE, and donate to Chris HERE.

Reps Green/Roe/Rose/Fleischmann Support “NATIONAL EMERGENCY”, Lamar Calls It “UNCONSTITUTIONAL”

In a rambling press conference yesterday President Trump declared that he would be signing the bipartisan border security compromise, but that he would also be declaring a “National Emergency” to be able to steer funds away from other departments towards the Wall he wants so badly.

The Wall Mexico was supposed to pay for.

In his speech he openly admitted he “doesn’t need to do it”, which begs the question of what he thinks an “emergency” is, exactly.

Lawsuits have already started over this executive overreach, and it seems likely they will all site that sentence as exhibit A that the president doesn’t even believe his own tale on this topic.

The reactions from the Tennessee delegation were mostly to be expected. Rep. Mark Green was quick to declare his support.

Green cited the National Emergencies declared by previous presidents as evidence that this was not actually the departure from constitutional norms critics were making it out to be. What Green either didn’t realize, or failed to mention, was that none of the previous emergencies involved a president trying to make an end run around congress to raid the treasury to deliver on a campaign promise.

Green isn’t the only Tennessee Republican who has touted his undying “support for the constitution” and “limited government”, who seems to have conveniently abandoned those ideals in this moment. Reps Phil Roe and Chuck Fleischmann also rushed to support the move, as did Rep. John Rose.

Senator Lamar Alexander was the only Tennessee Republican who seemed to have a problem with it, calling it “Unnecessary”, “Unwise”, and “Unconstitutional.”

It seems safe to assume Lamar realizes a Democratic President would surely turn around and use the power for actual emergencies like gun violence, health care, and climate change, and Senator Alexander clearly doesn’t want that to happen.

Democratic Rep. Cohen was on the other side of the fence, questioning the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who spent all 8 Obama years bemoaning executive overreach.


Checks and balances exist for a reason. The hypocrisy on display here is truly remarkable. If you agree this declaration is nothing short of an abuse of power, holler at your reps.

Dems Meet Gov. Lee To Plead For Medicaid Expansion – Children’s Hospitals Against GOP Block Grant Idea

This week a group of Democratic state representatives met with Governor Lee to implore him to reconsider his stance against expanding Medicaid in Tennessee, as most states already have.

Studies show the states that have expanded Medicaid have seen better health results, economic benefits, and fewer rural hospital closures.

Tennessee is losing $26 Billion over 10 years by not accepting billions in federal Medicaid expansion dollars that would cover hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans, including 30,000 veterans, and as a result currently leads the country in rural hospital closures per capita. The 13th rural Tennessee hospital just announced closure in Celina this week, and Democrats held an emotional press conference in the state capitol about it on Monday.

The group of Democrats calls itself the House Democratic Caucus Medicaid Expansion Task Force. They weren’t sure what kind of impact they had on Governor Lee, but said they’ll continue to try.

The general feeling was that the Williamson County-based governor doesn’t seem to understand how desperate for care some Tennesseans are, many of which don’t have another year or two left to wait for a new plan.

They did however say one thing Lee agreed with was preserving the provision of the Affordable Care Act that guarantees the protection of those with pre-existing conditions from discriminatory insurance company practices, which a Republican lawsuit in Texas seeks to undo.

From Rep. Gloria Johnson:

“We will try to continue the conversation, but it’s going to take the people rising up. The current Block Grant bill the Republicans have only takes current TennCare and turns it into block grants, probably serving fewer people than we even do now.”

The Block Grants proposal is something Tennessee Republicans are starting to push hard, with Senate leader Jack Johnson talking to the Tennessean about it this week.

Medicaid expansion is popular in Tennessee.

Block Granting Medicaid is not popular in America:

President Trump is trying to find a way to provide states like Tennessee with a block grant waiver, since they are currently illegal. Even if the president does manage to push that legislation through, it would instantly trigger lawsuits.

Meanwhile the details of the Tennessee Republicans’ Block Grants plan are “vague”, and nobody seems to be sure how it would solve the problem of covering MORE people who aren’t currently covered.

If anything the opposite would be true. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates recent Republican block grant proposals could cut Medicaid spending by as much as a third over the next decade. The cuts would start small, growing larger over the years.

Rep. Gloria Johnson also had this to say about Block Grants:

“Any waiver will instantly be challenged in court. This is not a good faith solution. This is folks who know they are getting hammered and want to appear as if they are doing something.”

It should also be noted that Children’s Hospitals, which rely heavily on Medicaid, are extremely against Block Grants, which they say would lead to cuts in coverage. Jim Kaufman, vice president of public policy for the Children’s Hospital Association, explained that proposals to simply block grant or shift costs to the states are the wrong way to go:

“Block grants cause cost-shifting that further burdens the financially strapped state budgets.  Instead, children’s hospitals want to improve access to care while reducing costs.”

And as Republican Senator John Chafee said in opposition to Medicaid block grants back in 1996:

“As states are forced to ration finite resources under a block grant, governors and legislators would be forced to choose among three very compelling groups of beneficiaries.

Who are they? Children, the elderly, and the disabled. They are the groups that primarily they would have to choose amongst. Unfortunately, I suspect that children would be the ones that would lose out.”

Just this week House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was heard on a phone call explaining to donors that health care issues like this are the reason Republicans got shellacked in November, and that the pre-existing conditions issue was a particular weakness.

Republicans claim to be the ones protecting the provision, but since they are also suing to undo the provision at the same time nobody seems to be buying it.

Even if you aren’t covered by Medicaid, you probably know someone who would be affected by block granting Medicaid.

To encourage Governor Lee to start listening, holler at him HERE.

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.

SPIN MARSHA SPIN: “Border Deal A Win For Trump, Dreamers Should Blame Dems”

Republicans and Democrats in congress struck a border security deal this week which gave President Trump far less than he wanted for his wall.

The deal pledges $1.375 billion for border enhancements like steel-slatted barriers and other “existing technologies”, and $1.7 billion for additional security measures and humanitarian aid. The proposed new “barriers” would account for just 55 miles, which is a far cry from the more than 200 miles the White House sought.

Of the deal, Trump said:

“I can’t say I’m thrilled.”

From the Democrats perspective, they averted a shutdown, agreed to additional border funding which they all support anyway, and didn’t have to go along with an end to end wall which they collectively oppose, and which even some Republicans have said would be a waste of money.

Needless to say, the far right, led by Awful Ann Coulter, isn’t happy about the deal, and has been vocal about calling Trump out for backing down on the shutdown in the first place.


Meanwhile here in Tennessee, ever the good soldier, Marsha Blackburn is putting on a brave face and telling Fox News this is actually a victory for Republicans and encouraging them to thank President in particular, who she rarely has a harsh word for.

In the interview with Fox News Marsha even goes so far as to blame Democrats for the fact that the fate of the Dreamers is still in limbo, even though Trump is the one who threw their status into jeopardy, and the Republicans are obviously the ones still holding them hostage.

Here’s what Marsha told Fox New yesterday, when asked about the deal:

“I’ve got to tell ya, I think it is a loss for the Democrats. Because the president and Republicans had offered to solve the issue around the Dreamers. And I hope that everyone listening to you who has a Dreamer in their family or a Dreamer that is close to them realizes through their obstinance of not coming to the table, Nancy Pelosi not making good on her word to negotiate, that is not a part of what is taking place at this point in time.”

So does that mean we can count Marsha as a vote for a clean Dream Act?

Democrats would pass a clean Dream Act tomorrow. Republicans would not. Marsha blaming Democrats for the situation the Dreamers are in is the hostage-taker blaming the negotiator for not meeting all of their ransom demands.

The onslaught of insults to the intelligence of her viewing audience is endless. Holler at Marsha HERE to let her know you see right through her.

“More War!” – All 7 TN GOP Congressmen Vote to Keep Fueling Humanitarian Nightmare in Yemen

In another bipartisan rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East, the House passed a bill yesterday to halt U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war, where the United States has been lending our support to a Saudi Arabian war effort that has created the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory.

All 7 Republican Congressmen from Tennessee: Mark Green, Tim Burchett, Phil Roe, John Rose, Scott Desjarlais, David Kustoff, and Charles Fleischmann voted against the bill.

Both Democratic congressmen – Jim Cooper and Steve Cohen – voted for it.

18 Republicans voted with the Democrats to stop American assistance in the Yemeni war.

According to a Worldwide Threat Assessment report, Of the nearly 29 million people in the country, about 22 million — nearly 76 percent of the population — need some form of humanitarian assistance. Among them, 16 million don’t have reliable access to drinking water or food, and more than 1 million Yemenis now suffer from cholera.

Dave Harden, a former US official leading humanitarian development response to Yemen, told Vox:

“The only losers are the people — their grave suffering presents generational risk to Yemen’s future.”

Democratic Rep. Jim Mcgovern had this to say about the vote:

“Nearly all of the bombs that have fallen say the same thing, `Made in the United States of America’. They fall on weddings. They fall on hospitals and on homes. They fall on funerals, refugee camps and school buses. It is an aerial bombing campaign that hammers civilians every single day.”

Last year, a bomb that originated in the U.S. landed on a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 children.

The vote is yet another bipartisan rebuke of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. The resolution would force the administration to withdraw troops from involvement in Yemen, in a rebuke of Trump’s alliance with the Saudi-led coalition.

Previously the Senate had passed a similar bill, but it was stopped in the house of representatives which was then controlled by the Republicans. If the senate were to take up this bill, it would land on the President’s desk.

This new resolution was introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California), who said in a statement:

“Today is historic. This is the culmination of several years of legislative efforts to end our involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen. I’m encouraged by the direction people are pushing our party to take on foreign policy, promoting restraint and human rights and with the sense they want Congress to play a much larger role.”

Meanwhile the Saudi government still refuses to acknowledge its role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi despite all the evidence, and President Trump has still stopped short of blaming or taking action against Saudi Arabia for it.

In related news, there are many questions about the president and his family’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia, and what role that may be playing in these foreign policy discussions.

As the President himself once said:

“Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.

Holler at Mark Green, Tim Burchett, Phil Roe, John Rose, Scott Desjarlais, David Kustoff, and Charles Fleischmann and let them know if you feel their vote to perpetuate this war flies in the face of human decency.

Tennessee Attorney General: Hate Crimes Law DOES Include Transgender People

Last year Senator Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) carried a bill in the Tennessee legislature that would have added gender identity and expression to the Tennessee hate crime law, making sure Transgender individuals were covered when targeted. Legislators decided not to move forward with the bill, in part because they thought “gender” already included transgender people.

With the help of Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville), LGBT advocates recently asked the Tennessee Attorney General’s office for an official opinion about whether the law in fact cover transgender people as a hate crime, which would mean harsher sentences for anyone who targeted them.

The Verdict: Yes, the law covers them.

Attorney General Slatery’s opinion uses the Oxford definition of “gender” to explain that:

“A defendant who targets a person for a crime because that person is transgender has targeted the person because of his or her gender”

Meaning that a court CAN “enhance” a sentence if the defendant has targeted a transgender person.

The opinion was delivered by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III’s office to Rep. Mike Stewart this week.

The LGBT community has received this as great news, calling it a “good, solid victory.

From Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project:

“After hearing testimony in a legislative committee and considering the need to make sure transgender people have more protections, we followed a hunch and it worked. We are grateful to Rep. Mike Stewart for working diligently with us on this and to Sen. Sara Kyle, who carried the trans-inclusive hate crimes bill last year.”

Despite this win, there are still a number of discriminatory bills snaking their way through the legislature. Read about them here, and holler at your state reps to let them know hate has no home in Tennessee.

And while we’re here, some facts and myths about transgender people with regard to those bathroom bills, which are still around.

In Emotional Meeting, Franklin Aldermen Approve Slavery-Acknowledging Civil War Markers

Confederate statues around the country have been a contentious topic for some time, reaching a boiling point in 2017 when white supremacist-led rally resulted of the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Read more

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.”

FALSE ALARM: Lt. Gov. Mcnally Almost Backs Medicaid Expansion By Mistake

On the Tennessean’s Grand Divisions podcast with Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison this week, Tennessean writer Natalie Allison asked what bills will be most controversial this session, and after listing Medical Marijuana and school vouchers Lt. Gov. Randy Mcnally went on to mention Medicaid Expansion:

Mcnally told the Tennessean:

“On Medicaid Expansion… Senator Bailey is working on some different ideas to take and work with the governor on and try to get an amendment through that would address the population that’s below 138% of the poverty level. And address it on a sliding scale voucher type thing, health savings accounts, there’s a number of different options that we haven’t really fleshed out yet.”

“Under 138% of the poverty level” is where Medicaid expansion would draw the line. What Mcnally was talking about sure sounded a lot like Medicaid expansion. So Natalie Allison asked him about that:

“So will Republicans be pushing a bill to expand Medicaid in some instances, or…?”

Still sounding a bit confused, Mcnally went on:

“Well we’ll be I think looking at an effort to… a lot depends on what we think we can through CMS, but we’re looking at an effort to address the population that probably was most in need of insurance but was left out of health care… Our hope is it’s not expansion of Medicaid, it’s not Obamacare, and that’s – we’re just trying to take care of sick people that lack insurance mainly because they’re incomes are not at a rate that they can afford it.”

So it’s not Medicaid, or Obamacare, it just attempts to do the exact things Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare was trying to do… JUST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T CALL IT MEDICAID EXPANSION OR OBAMACARE.

This might be a good time to point out that Medicaid Expansion is popular in Tennessee.

Still confused because Mcnally was sounding pretty pro-Medicaid expansion, the Natalie Allison pressed further:

So… you’re saying it’s not Medicaid expansion?”

At this point Senator Jack Johnson swoops in, noticing Mcnally is flailing and maybe almost about to support something that would actually help a lot of people, which would be truly awful.

Sen. Johnson:

 “It absolutely is not… I want to be very clear about that, it’s not a proposal to expand medicaid. It’s a proposal to give us more flexibility with our existing medicaid dollars, ok? And if we’re given that flexibility we believe we can generate savings that will generate additional dollars with which we might be able to cover some additional people, or provide better services- better quality services. That’s one conversation and that needs to stay in its lane right there. Any conversation of drawing down additional federal dollars is a totally different conversation, ok? And I think maybe during some of this those two things have gotten interwoven.”

So if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans without coverage, good news – maybe what they’re proposing might cover some other people if they can scrounge up some loose change somewhere, but as for the $26 Billion over 10 years the federal government wants to send us to cover you, that’s a still big NO THANK YOU — because who wants that?
They know they need to seem like they’re trying to help people get the care they need – but actually helping people would be a bridge too far.
Basically their block grant proposal is to take the money that is supposed to go towards health insurance for low-income people in a lump sum, and trust that the guys who up until now haven’t seemed to care that vulnerable Tennesseans can’t get the care they need will A) make sure it goes to the right place, and B) Be able to make those dollars go further somehow.
That’s some plan.
The Tennessean reporters then went on to commiserate about how confusing the whole thing was. Natalie Allison:
“All the reporters sitting there were pretty confused. We thought he was saying Republicans were going to launch a medicaid expansion effort this session. We eventually realized that wasn’t the case and went on to talk about the block grant program.”
She then pointed out that it remains to be seen how they would actually secure coverage for those currently in the coverage gap:
“When we asked them how they were going to pay for that, there isn’t really a clear answer… the bill itself is pretty vague.”
As Rep. John Ray Clemmons and Gloria Johnson say in the video below, the Republican-proposed block grants may not even be legal, won’t cover anyone new, and won’t help rural hospitals.
It doesn’t fix the problem.
It’s time to expand Medicaid like most of the country already has. It would help a lot of people, and pay for itself. Let the Republicans call it whatever they want, let’s just do it.
Holler at Governor Lee if you agree.