On Wednesdays’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy chatted with Varsity Brands President and CEO Jeff Webb about the current Senate race in Tennessee and what it means for the recent tax cuts and regulation rollback. They went on to discuss how, if Phil Bredesen was elected that would effect Tennessee and the country at large.
During the interview, Webb said that Bredesen’s claim that, if elected to the U.S. Senate, he won’t vote for Sen. Chuck Schumer as the leader of the Democrats in the Senate is “almost a laughable political stunt.”
Steve Gill: Jeff good to have you with us.
Jeff Webb: Thanks Steve good to talk to you.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Good morning Jeff, Mike Leahy here.
Gill: In honor of Varsity Brands I told Michael earlier that’s why I’m wearing the cheerleader outfit, the UT cheerleader outfit. Just in honor of you.
Leahy: Orange and white pom poms it’s a site that can’t be unseen.
Leahy: So, Jeff we talked to you last night, you watched the debate between Phil Bredesen and Marsha Blackburn last night. And by the way we first met you at a Tennessee Star insider briefing earlier this year in Memphis. So, you watched the debate last night and you had a very interesting take on it. And you said basically Phil Bredesen is acting like he’s running for Governor but he’s not he’s running for the Senate. Tell us a little bit more about your comment on the debate.
Webb: Well, again I think Bredesen has from the very beginning has positioned himself and I think Marsha called him out on it early, that he’s positioned himself to be this moderate, he’s what’s right for Tennessee, and you can trust me. Again, it sounds like he’s running for Governor it sounds like he’s going to be out there trying to find all these new jobs which is fine. Either person will be looking for new jobs and a better situation for our state. But it’s the national issues that are going to be most effect the citizens of Tennessee this time around. He’s going to have to vote on what the Democrat, he’ll have to vote on their agenda and he’ll be expected to vote they way they want him to. If he wants to get any committee chairmanships or any big position, so I think he’s been able to avoid talking about what he will do on these national issues. And I think in this particular case this is not only a Tennessee election this is a national race.
Leahy: Absolutely, you said his pledge to operate as a moderate Democrat moderate, you call that naive or a charade. Are there any moderate Democrats left anywhere in the United States, in particular in the United States Senate, Jeff?
Webb: Well there certainly aren’t’ very many as we well know Mike, again you go back and look, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Clare McCaskill they claim these moderate positions and when it comes time to vote they vote the party line. They vote with the liberal party leadership. Not one Democrat, including all the moderates or the several moderates that there are, not one Democrat voted for the President’s tax plan. And look at the result we’ve had from that tax cut. We have an economy now that’s been reignited, we’ve got great GDP growth, you’ve got low un-employment, you’ve got a roll back of regulations and it’s just had a dramatic effect. But one of them, not one of them voted for that tax cut and I think that’s a harbinger of things to come if Bredesen gets the seat.
Gill: And not only did they not vote for it Jeff, they’ve pledged under Chuck Schumer to repeal it, to take away these crumbs as both Chuck Schumer and Phil Bredesen have termed these tax cuts. You know for Tennessean’s, they’ve seen bonus’s, they’ve seen money in their pockets, they’ve seen the growth of their wages, they’ve seen the growth of the economy. And the tax cuts for the most part haven’t even gone into effect for most people because there in effect this year and most people won’t’ see them till they file their tax return next year.
Webb: Well you’re exactly right, but I do think Steve, that you know as a business man, I do think even though they haven’t really haven’t gone fully into effect just the fact that they are there people are anticipating what that’s going to mean. Whether it’s individuals with no money in their pockets or whether it’s companies that realize their take rate has gone down, their going to have more money to invest and where seeing a record investment in capital spending. Which again is great for everybody’s future. So, I think even these tax cuts that they have had an effect even though they are not fully implemented. But you’re right also about this rollback, and you also have to worry about again how the regulations of President Trump has rolled back, which have had a profound impact. Are they going to somehow go after those? So, people need to understand that we need transparency here. And I think Marsha has been very very clear about the fact that she supports the President, supports his economic programs and Governor Bredesen has been able to obfuscate. He has not been forced to say here’s exactly what I’m going to do with regard to the President’s economic plan.
Leahy: Yeah and he’s gonna be here on Monday, right? Up in Johnson City.
Gill: And maybe in Memphis. I saw a report that he may be coming to Memphis,
Gill: or Pence maybe coming to Memphis later this week their trying to get the schedule.
Leahy: I think they’re going to South Haven.
Gill: Yeah South Haven
Leahy: So, Jeff?
Gill: Which is basically Memphis South.
Webb: Exactly, Steve yes, South Haven is really a suburb of Memphis.
Gill: Ya’ll claim everything to about Jackson
Webb: We do what we can. We do what we can
Leahy: Jeff, you’re a guy that knows something about creating jobs. I mean Varsity Brands and Varsity Spirit what a terrific success story. Memphis based company. You now have more than 8,000 employees’ in fifty states. 700 employees in Tennessee. Jeff you founded this company in your apartment what thirty years ago is that right?
Webb: Yeah it feels more like forty, it’s been set up with the world headquarters in the second bedroom.
Gill: And, but you didn’t build that.
Leah: No, you didn’t build it Jeff.
Gill: As Barack Obama would say you didn’t build that while he was still a community organizer. You were actually building that.
Webb: Well you know we had a lot of help and you know I was originally from Texas and actually moved here to Memphis to start the business and it’s been a great place to build a business and you know I just think it’s important that we have to do everything we can to make sure that those kinds of opportunities are here.
Leahy: But you really created this industry. This cheerleading industry, I mean you’re on ESPN, I mean this is a huge, huge company that you created from your apartment.
Webb: Well thank you. I had a lot of help along the way and some amazing people that are really committed to what we do as far as having a positive effect on young people and helping to make them leaders in their schools and to really bring everybody together for a better outcome. (Inaudible chatter)
Leahy: But you know how to create jobs. And what you’re saying is, on that front, Phil Bredesen’s just on the wrong side of things. Essentially that’s what your saying isn’t it?
Webb: It would seem so, but Mike the other problem is that there’s not transparency. I still think I deserve to hear from both candidates, and I think Marsha’s done a much better job, let’s hear what your gonna do in these areas.
Leahy: Yeah what’s his plan.
Webb: It’s roaring, it’s roaring, are we really risk that.
Gill: Yeah, they wanna go fix it. It’s doing to well and they’ve got to fix it and break it back down to where it just was a while back. You know President Trump made the point repeatedly on the campaign trail Jeff that the tax cuts he thought would be very important and would vital but as he talked to businesses it was the regulatory reform, it was the reducing the burden of red tape and regulatory burdens on small businesses in particular and on big businesses. Are you seeing that in your businesses and your other business interests that the regulation reform may actually be having a bigger bump in the economy than the tax cuts?
Webb: Our business is not, was not and is not protected by the regulations but the entire economy has been affected by those and that does have an effect on our business as well as everybody else’s. The Obama administration put in thousands of regulations that really strangled businesses and destroyed investing and expanding and now we’ve seen that rolled back and again I think as much as anything that has really helped to keep the economy going.
Leahy: Jeff you made another good point that Phil Bredesen is campaign like he’s running for Governor yet he’ really just going to be a junior Senator. And apparently, “he says, he claims” he’s not going to vote for Chuck Schumer for majority leader. But you wouldn’t really address in terms of, how effective would he be if he supposedly wouldn’t vote for Chuck Schumer?
Webb: Well first of I think that was almost a laughable political stunt. I mean, yes, if somehow the Democrats got the majority, Schumer’s going to be overwhelmingly elected so Bredesen wouldn’t even have to vote for Schumer for it to make a difference. But the fact of the matter is, you know, that as a Senator, especially a Junior Senator, I mean Governor Bredesen had a lot of political experience but if he goes to the Senate, if he were to be elected he’s going to be a Junior Senator and he is going to be expected to vote with the party, with the party leaders and they are moving further and further to the left. And again, the evidence is clear look at the tax cuts that we talked about before the tax bill. Every moderate, no matter what, voted against them. And I think, I don’t think governor Bredesen will have any choice. He doesn’t have any choice. If he’s going to get committee assignments if he’s going potentially be a chairman, if he’s going, he’s going to get legislation introduced he’s going to have to go along with the party. And it’s becoming more and more liberal.
Gill: And his vote really doesn’t matter I mean Diane Feinstein, if the Democrats take the Senate with Phil Bredesen’s help she becomes chairman of the Judiciary Committee. You have the most extremist Democrats who are not going to be looking out for the interest of Tennessee or being moderate in anyway, they become committee chairman they take charge and we see more of what we’ve seen during Kavanaugh hearings.
Webb: Well I think there’s not doubt about it, no doubt about it.
Leahy: Jeff Webb thank you so much for joining us. Will you come back some time and weigh in on what’s gong on in politics here in Tennessee and in the country?
Webb: Yeah let’s do it look forward to it. Thanks guys.
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