Let’s Not Forget

January 7th, 2016

About this time last year, I recognized the remarkable accomplishment of eight of our fellow Tennesseans. Lest you forget, these eight were able to blow off hundreds of millions of dollars and the governor of their own party to deny health insurance to 280,000 of our working poor.

No mean accomplishment, and the meanest accomplishment of 2015.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, January 8, 2016, and in The Memphis News, January 9-15, 2016



As the Tennessee General Assembly gets going in 2016, let’s remember how they started 2015 – with the abandonment of common sense and decency and hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans. The story of what they did bears repeating as a cautionary tale. If we let them do it again, we all bear responsibility.

Bell. Bowling. Crowe. Gardenhire. Kelsey. Nicely. Roberts. And Norris.

These are the seven state senators who wouldn’t let Insure Tennessee out of committee much less on the floor for a vote, and the senate majority leader who turned his back to the governor of his own party refusing to support him in the senate, “respectfully,” he said, in a move that deserves no respect at all.

Bell. Bowling. Crowe. Gardenhire. Kelsey. Nicely. Roberts. And Norris.

These eight people denied at least 280,000 people in Tennessee health insurance because of their spineless fear of two people in Wichita – the Koch brothers – and their mindless hatred of one man in Washington – the President of the United States.

Bell. Bowling. Crowe. Gardenhire. Kelsey. Nicely. Roberts. And Norris.

They wouldn’t allow a vote on an expansion of Medicaid to the working poor that our federal tax dollars and our hospitals would pay for completely, not costing us an additional cent but costing our fellow citizens their health if not their lives. Amazingly, two of them – Kelsey and Norris – purportedly represent the citizens of Shelby County, home to one fourth to one third of those denied health insurance in Tennessee.

Bell. Bowling. Crowe. Gardenhire. Kelsey. Nicely. Roberts. And Norris.

These Republicans spurned the Republican governor and his two-year effort to appease them. They ignored the Republican mayor of Shelby County, the traditionally conservative interests of the chambers of commerce and medical associations across the state, the beleaguered hospitals and – if you read Matthew – the tenets of the professed faith they flaunt at every public opportunity, apparently, for effect. In a body with a higher percentage of self-proclaimed Christians than a packed revival tent, their action begs the evangelical bumper sticker question – WWJD? Well, let’s see:

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40

Bell. Bowling. Crowe. Gardenhire. Kelsey. Nicely. Roberts. And Norris.

Repeating their names serves as a reminder of what these few did a year ago and – if 2015 is any indication – of what will likely be repeated in 2016. Another year of unnecessary struggle and uncertainty for so many Tennesseans while the few bow to other masters. Another year of a whole state waiting for infrastructure and education support while the few spend the year posturing for patrons and waiting for a national election.

2015 does not bear repeating.

Remember Mike Bell, Janice Bowling, Rusty Crowe, Todd Gardenhire, Brian Kelsey, Frank Nicely, Kerry Roberts and Mark Norris.

I’m a Memphian, and we should remember that these things are done in our name.



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