Thursday, February 09, 2023

Tennessee House Speaker Mulls Rejecting US Education Money

 Cameron Sexton said rejecting nearly $1.8 billion of federal K-12 education dollars would let officials to "educate the kids how Tennessee sees fit."

Cameron Sexton
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP), Feb 8, 2023 - One of Tennessee’s most influential Republican lawmakers says the state should stop accepting the nearly $1.8 billion of federal K-12 education dollars that help provide support for low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton told The Associated Press that he has introduced a bill to explore the idea during this year’s legislative session and has begun discussions with Gov. Bill Lee and other key GOP lawmakers.

“Basically, we’ll be able to educate the kids how Tennessee sees fit,” Sexton said, pointing that rejecting the money would mean that Tennessee would no longer have “federal government interference.”

To date, no state has successfully rejected federal education funds ...  The idea has also come up elsewhere in recent months among GOP officials, including in Oklahoma and South Carolina.

According to Sexton, Tennessee is currently in the financial position to use state tax dollars to replace federal education funds. ... the state could easily cover the federal government’s portion. Federal dollars make up a small slice of Tennessee’s K-12 education funding, ... “We as a state can lead the nation once again in telling the federal government that they can keep their money and we’ll just do things the Tennessee way,” ... Spokespersons for both Gov. Lee and Sen. Randy McNally appeared open to entertaining Sexton’s proposal. (read more)

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Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Taking Social Security off the table is cowardly and does nothing to solve serious problem.

FACT SHEET: Social Security, Medicare, and Deficits 
February 8, 2022
In his State of the Union address last night, President Biden touched on a number of important topics, including Social Security, Medicare, and his record on fiscal responsibility. Below are a few facts to put the President’s remarks in context. 
Social Security 

  • The Social Security trust funds will be insolvent by 2035 – just 12 years from now – when today’s 55-year-olds reach the normal retirement age and today’s youngest retirees turn 74.  
  • At trust fund exhaustion, Social Security benefits will be cut by 20 percent or more across the board, resulting in a $12,000 to $17,000 benefit cut for a typical couple retiring in 2035. 
  • The President pledged to take Social Security “off the books” and has not offered a plan to make it solvent. The “do nothing” plan is a plan to allow this abrupt benefit cut to occur. 
  • Numerous bipartisan commissions and experts have studied Social Security and determined restoring solvency will likely require a mix of revenue and benefit adjustments. Even eliminating the payroll tax cap would only close 40 to 60 percent of the program’s structural imbalance. 
  • The longer we wait to make changes, the larger the changes will need to be, the fewer options there will be, and the less time we will have to phase policies in or give workers time to prepare.  

  • The Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund, which funds Part A benefits, will be depleted by 2028 – just five years from now, when today’s newest beneficiaries turn 70. 
  • At trust fund exhaustion, Medicare payments to hospitals will automatically be cut by 10 percent, likely through payment delays that would jeopardize access to care. 
  • Total Medicare spending has grown from 2 percent of GDP in 2000 to 3 percent this year and is slated to double to 6 percent of GDP in just three decades. 
  • Numerous bipartisan options exist to reduce Medicare by lowering the cost of health care. 
Deficits and the Budget 

  • ... (portions less relevant deleted by blog publisher). 
  • Social Security, health care, and net interest explain 92 percent of projected nominal spending growth from 2022 to 2032. 
Rod's Comment: So, what will happen in 2035, when the trust fund runs dry? Does anyone think benefits will be cut?  I don't. There are only three obvious options: raise the Social Security tax cap, increase the retirement age, or cut the benefit amount. Or do a combination of all three. Both parties have pledged social security is untouchable so cutting benefits or raising the retirement age are off the table.  

Currently the maximum amount of income subject to SS tax is set at $160,200.  It goes up every year based on a formula. There is reluctance to drastically raise the cap because there is a desire to maintain the fiction that social security is a retirement plan instead of admitting that is a welfare Ponzi scheme. SS is a transfer payment where money paid in today by people who are working pays most of the benefit that current retirees receive.  Dems are now uninhibited about calling for making the rich pay "their fair share," so the reluctance to raise the cap may be diminishing.  As pointed out above however, even totally eliminating the payroll tax cap would only close 40 to 60 percent of the program’s structural imbalance. And this will have negative consequences. It will suck so money out of the economy it will slow growth, leading to less tax revenue and increasing Federal borrowing. The cost of interest on the debt will make it even harder to ever balance the budget. Alternatively, the government could borrow from the Federal Reserve, euphemistically called printing money, which weakens the dollar and leads to inflation. Either option would be unsustainable and will hasten a financial collapse. 

What I suspect will happen in 2035 is Congress will end the fiction that social security is a retirement fund and will fund the SS deficit out of general revenues. Budgets have not balanced in many years. The only way the SS deficit can be funded out of general revenue is by more borrowing or inflating the money supply. Neither option is a solution and will hasten an economic collapse.

We have known for decades the SS trust fund was running dry. Both parties kept kicking the can down the road. The longer we wait the more difficult it is to fix the problem. To take Social Security off the table is kicking the can further down the road and burying your head in the sand.  Taking Social Security off the table is cowardly and does nothing to solve the problem.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Mark Woodward, Recording Secretary for the Davidson County Republican Party, gives a State of the Party report. Mark is not seeking reelection.

Dear Nashville Republicans,

I have served as the Recording Secretary for the Davidson County Republican Party for the past four years, and I wanted to share my perspective on the growth and success of our party over the last four years and my hopes for the party now that I am resigning my position. 

It may not seem this way from the outside, but Republicans in Davidson County have made huge strides from where we were just four years ago. We tripled and quadrupled our volunteer base and fielded more candidates in county races than ever before in recent memory. 

And we galvanized voters who showed up at the polls. Here’s an example. In 2018, Democrat Rachael Elrod won School Board District 4 with over 67% of the vote. In 2022, “No Woke" Todd Pembroke held her to a modest 57% victory, gaining on her by a net 700 votes. In a small school board race, that vote shift is significant. On a small budget, Todd Pembroke garnered a full 1000 votes more than the charter-funded opposition candidate from 4 years earlier.

We campaigned hard, and our volunteers did not let us down. They gave money, knocked on thousands of doors, made hundreds of phone calls, and showed up in person to hold signs on Election Day. The results did not go in our favor, but the momentum coming out of the election is ours. The Democrat Party cannot continue to silence free speech, support the indoctrination of students without facing a tremendous backlash from citizens who are waking up and willing to fight for their country. 

The unsung hero of our local campaigns was a transplant from the UK named Bart Smith who became our 2nd Vice Chair in 2022. Recently transplanted from the UK, Bart managed and/or gave significant help free of charge to all but one of the local Republican and Independent candidates. He helped with strategy, designed mailers and door hangers, arranged interviews, organized fundraisers, and was behind several successful DCRP press releases. Bart’s considerable talent, fueled by deep convictions was met with only gratitude from candidates and volunteers, but earned him no small degree of suspicion from others on the board. In his zeal to get things done, he accidentally missed a few steps of protocol and personally offended some important people. DCRP board members wasted precious meeting time upbraiding Bart for moving too fast and putting campaign concerns above his responsibilities as DCRP 2nd Vice Chair. 

Chairman James Garrett did his best to stay above the fray while protecting Bart from official discipline. But the damage was done, and Bart resigned after the election.

Two other heroes that deserve recognition are John and Carol Wendt. Carol has been the 1st Vice Chair, and John a Regional Vice Chair for the last few years. They came into the party with a plan to recruit and train volunteers, and they did what they set out to do. They created a volunteer manual, they organized volunteer events, and created a community where there had been none. Along with their organizational talent, they are people of great character. I can remember a situation in a board meeting where two members had a sharp disagreement with one actually daring the other to quit the party. With calm dignity, John broke in and reminded everyone to communicate in a respectful way. Not only his words, but his manner — quiet, calm and confident — completely quelled the storm and earned John my enduring respect.

James Garrett has endorsed Lonnie Spivak to replace him as chairman at the coming reorganizational convention on Saturday, Feb 11. In his post lower down on this page, Mr. Spivak shares his goals for the party. I commend his digital engagement idea and his awareness of the issue of competing conservative groups. Should Mr. Spivak win, I hope he will support some of the good efforts that are already underway. Dia Hart and Laura Nelson are spearheading a committee to engage, recruit, and train local candidates — and they are on fire. Carol and John Wendt have breathed fresh life into the party, engaging volunteers and organizing events. We need to keep the momentum going and build on what we have started for the sake our movement and our message.

It is about the message. Republicans stand for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the rule of law, personal responsibility, patriotism, and family values. These ideals are not always glamorous, but our society is built on them, and they are worth fighting for. 

If you want to get involved at the local level, please attend our Davidson County Reorganizational Caucus and Convention on February 11, 9:00 AM at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. 


Mark Woodward

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Nashville-Area Democrat Bob Freeman Ponders Leaving the State House for City Hall to Tackle the Titans Stadium Deal, Metro Public Schools

Bob Freeman
Tennessee Stae, February 6, 2023- Live from Music Row, Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy Leahy welcomed State Representative Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) in studio to answer questions on a run for Nashville mayor, reducing Metro Council, Titans Stadium deal, and the state of MNPS.


Freeman: ... I think that what our city needs right now more than anything is that our next mayor can actually work with the state and can help the state realize that this should be a very profitable and successful partnership and that the success of Nashville drives the success of the state. ... this idea that we can have a combative relationship with the state has been shown to not be true. Look at the legislation that’s in front of us right now to cut the council size, remove the funding for the Music City Center, remove the airport board or airport authority, and the sports authority. ... These are all decisions that should be made locally. And if we had the ability to sit down with the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker and negotiate in good faith, I think we would be in a different spot.

... bill before the Tennessee General Assembly to cut the size of the Metro Council from 40 to 20. What’s your opinion on that bill? 

Freeman: ... I think the bill is horrible. I think the idea that people from outside of Nashville get a say in how we do politics here locally is laughable at best. (Read it all at this link.)

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Nashville mayoral race: Wiltshire takes early fundraising lead with nearly $1.1M on hand

Matt Wiltshire
by Cassandra Stephenson, The Tennessean, Feb. 3, 2023- Mayoral candidate Matt Wiltshire's campaign raised more than $1.2 million in the last six months, giving him an early fundraising advantage in the still-growing field of contenders for the 2023 election.
Candidate Freddie O'Connell ... $244,255 in financial disclosures ...

Candidate Sharon Hurt, ... reported $5,200 in contributions.

the qualifying deadline for the Aug. 3 election months away on May 18, the 2023 mayoral race is just getting started.

... Wiltshire, an economic development and affordable housing veteran, launched his mayoral campaign in July 2022 after leaving his post at the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency in April.

Wiltshire raised $888,184 in contributions in the last six months. With the addition of a $348,904 personal loan, his total raised thus far is $1,237,088.

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Davidson County Republican Party 2023 Mass Convention, Saturday, February 11.

To visit the Davidson County Republican Party website, follow this link

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Monday, February 06, 2023

First Tuesday guest speaker is Troy Brewer, Comptroller for the Tennessee Republican Party. Meeting Tuesday Feb 14.

 If you waited too late to register, I bet they can squeeze in an unregistered guest. 

Visit the First Tuesday webpage for more information.

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