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A state sovereignty campaign in the General Assembly indicates how divisive Republican leaders intend to be during the next legislative session, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester predicts.
“I hope they are not suggesting we fight another Civil War,” Forrester said. “This is nothing short of lunacy. The Tea Party organizers and their ultra-right wing cronies began this ridiculous issue to disrupt civil debate about how to move this state and nation forward.
“It’s unfortunate that Republican members of the state Legislature have jumped on this crazy train. Instead of focusing on real issues that concern most Tennesseans, these legislators are more concerned about grandstanding and how to divide us.
“Just look at this past legislative session when Republicans brought up wedge issues. Our state and its citizens are facing financial challenges that affect far more people than a wedge issue does,” he said.
Earlier this week a Tennessee legislative committee voted to send letters to the 49 other state legislatures inviting them to join Tennessee in a “working group… to enumerate the abuses of authority by the federal government and to seek repeal of its assumption of powers” and mandates it has imposed on states, according to The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis.
State Rep. Susan Lynn of Mount Juliet introduced a resolution that passed the Legislature in May reasserting state sovereignty and urging the federal government to stop usurping its constitutional authority. That earlier measure, which cites the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, prompted this week’s legislative action.
“Today many state legislators, including some in Tennessee, have decided it is time to affirm state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and demand the federal government halt its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution,” Lynn wrote in a Feb. 22 entry on her blog after introducing the resolution.
Lynn, the Republican chairwoman of the legislative committee, has drafted a letter she intends the committee to send to the other state legislatures.
The letter states: “The federal government seeks to control the salaries of those employed by private business, to change the provisions of private contracts, to nationalize banks, insurers and auto manufacturers, and to dictate to every person in the land what his or her medical choices will be.
“Forcing property from employers to provide health care, legislating what individuals are and are not entitled to, and using the labor of some so that others can receive money that they did not earn goes far beyond securing natural rights and the enumerated powers in the Constitution.”
Forrester pointed out that the original Constitution also didn’t include successful federal programs like Social Security and Medicare or vital entities like the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Republicans are trying to blame everything that went wrong in the previous eight years on the Obama Administration, including the economic trouble we now face,” Forrester said. “This president and this Congress inherited a mess that required immediate action. We went from record budget surpluses to record budget deficits and a near collapse of our financial institutions while the last administration was in the White House.
“Bold measures were enacted earlier this year to stimulate the nation’s economy and get Americans back to work. The economy seems to be responding, but we have a long way to go. At least this administration and our majority in Congress are coming up with strategies and solutions to move us forward.
“What I’ve been mostly hearing from Republicans up to this point are criticism and divisive rhetoric that does nothing to help solve the problems we face. What kind of message does this send to our enemies like the terrorists we are fighting in Afghanistan and other parts of the world? Some of our Republican friends need to revisit their priorities,” he added.
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