When Will Haslam Get the Blame for Tennessee's Bad Economy?



Last week came the news that Tennessee’s unemployment rate went up again last month to 8.5 percent, nearly a full percentage point higher than the national average. So, six months into the third year of GOP rule in this state, we’re still waiting for the robust economic revival that Republicans claimed would come by kowtowing abjectly to business owners and screwing working people at every possible turn.

In his election campaign, Gov. Bill Haslam swore he’d focus almost entirely on revving up the economy. But once in office, he suddenly started making excuses. Government can’t make laws to create jobs, he said, clueing us in on his opinion on this important matter for the first time. He did launch a big study to cut red tape, then confessed he couldn’t really find any unnecessary regulations to erase.

His one and only purported job-creation bill was tort reform. In return for capping jury awards and limiting business liability for negligence and wrongdoing, we were promised 30,000 new jobs almost immediately. That was laughable.

For purely political reasons, the governor has balked at expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — the single biggest thing he could have done to improve the economy, not to mention the health of Tennesseans. Meanwhile, he’s made it harder for workers injured on the job to collect compensation from their employers, just to name one way he's rigging the system against working people.

When will the media start pointing the finger at Haslam for Tennessee’s bad economy? Not yet anyway. No blame was cast in any of the coverage of the latest unemployment figures. The media went so far as to ignore a press release from Democrats pointing out the obvious — that Haslam’s policies aren’t working to make things better for anyone except the special interests that pay for GOP campaigns.

“The Republicans have spent the past year trying to find new and creative ways to hurt working people in this state,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “We’ve heard all along from Republicans that if you cut unemployment insurance, worker protections and the social safety net that more people will go to work — it appears the opposite is true.”

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