by Steven Hale
Top billing in this week's issue of The City Paper goes to an extensive interview with former Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Bredesen, who also served two terms as Nashville's mayor before taking the state's top job, has been active on the national scene as of late, working as a spokesman for the Fix the Debt campaign and talking up his forthcoming book, which will focus on the national debt and health care.
In a wide-ranging interview with the CP, Bredesen discussed those topics, as well as the use of tax breaks and other incentives as a strategy for economic and community development, professional sports stadiums, education and a little politics. He even dished on the long-rumored unpleasantness between he and his mayoral successor Bill Purcell.
The whole interview can be found here or in one of those blue boxes around town. An excerpt on the timely matter of health care:
If you were governor today, dealing with Obamacare, would you let the federal government handle it? You’ve been somewhat critical in the past about, you know, calling it the “mother of all unfunded mandates.”
That’s the Medicaid piece? I’ve talked with Bill Haslam multiple times about it — in his asking, not my lobbying him on the subject — I just think, especially if you’re a conservative, why would you want to turn a third of your state’s budget to the federal government? I think that people sometimes get confused. They need to separate their feelings about the Affordable Care Act from the analysis about what’s best for the state.
Having lived with Medicaid for a long time, having the federal government to be involved in the stuff you do here in Tennessee is not necessarily a good thing or an efficient thing. So I just say, the bottom line is separate the issues. Whatever you think about the Affordable Care Act, this is a different decision, and if you’re trying to show your distaste for the act by refusing to participate in this way, I think you’re kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Yesterday, Gov. Bill Haslam announced that the state would not be running the online insurance exchange mandated by President Obama's health care law, but would instead be handing that responsibility to the federal government. He has not yet decided on whether to expand the state's TennCare program.