On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Michael Patrick Leahy and all-star panelist Crom Carmichael spoke with The Tennessee Star’s National Correspondent Neil McCabe.
During the third hour, McCabe weighed in on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill HR-6666 and whether the Republicans will vote to pass it. He was skeptical because of past patterns by Republicans who continuously vote to pass such bills regardless of the conservative opposition.
Leahy: We are joined on the phone now by our very good friend, Washington journalist, and The Tennessee Star’s National Correspondent. He’s now part of the Star News Network, Neil McCabe. Good morning Neil.
McCabe: Good morning Michael. How are you doing?
Leahy: I know you were up all night reading the 1800 page Christmas tree of liberal trillion-dollar gifts put together for the “heroes.”
Carmichael: Three trillion.
Leahy: Three trillion says, Crom. What do you make of that Neil?
McCabe: Well, I guess they figure why not? Surely Pelosi has had a very good career of rolling the Republican House leadership whether it was Bainer, Ryan, or McCarthy. And things that would have been dismissed out of hand actually make it into law under Pelosi.
And if I was Pelosi, of course, I’d ask for it. Pelosi has been responsible over the years for many of the Republican House leadership victories because the Conservatives have refused to support certain things that the Republican leadership wanted to do.
They would just team up with Pelosi and get things done. They have a very fine relationship. When that last big pork bill a bunch of Conservatives in the House got together and they said, “Alright we have to pass this thing because there’s a gun to our heads and now we’re going to go through it and try to claw back some of the most egregious of these goodies.”
And somebody asked Kevin McCarthy about it and McCarthy says, “No we’re not going to do that.” A deals a deal and that’s fine. And so nothing changes. If you were Pelosi why wouldn’t you ask?
Leahy: So you think this is just her opening gambit if you will?
McCabe: I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets the whole thing.
Carmichael: Now wait. Neil, this is Crom Carmichael. Are you saying that she gets it passed out of the House or are you saying she gets Trump to sign it?
McCabe: I think she gets Trump to sign it. It’s like Cuomo and Larry Hogan say we want 500 million dollars to bail us out in New York and Maryland. The Conservatives rise up and they say this is an outrage. Why should the red states bail out the blue states? Why should the federal government do this and this and this right? McConnell tried to make a stance. Oh, that will pass. It will get through. Everybody is going to get bailed out.
Leahy: When Lindsey Graham said last night that this is dead on arrival in the Senate you treat that statement with a degree of skepticism shall we say?
McCabe: Ah, yeah! I was in the room at the National Press Club when Lindsey Graham in April of 2019 told the National Republican Association it’s time to investigate the investigators and I’m going to begin hearings now! (Laughs) Well, that was over a year ago.
Leahy: They haven’t happened yet.
McCabe: Lindsey Graham…please! That’s Waiting for Godot. That bus is never going to show up.
Leahy: What happens with this three trillion Christmas tree that Nancy Pelosi has announced of 1800 pages. Nobody has really read it except they know that its a bailout for blue cities and blue states. What’s the next step in that process?
McCabe: McConnell was being the big man and he said this is ridiculous and we’re going to block this. But if you go down the list of the states that are in the most trouble pre-COVID-19. Kentucky…
Leahy: New York, California.
McCabe: Why don’t you look up Kentucky? Because Kentucky is in worse shape than California and New York. My reading of it is Illinois and Kentucky are the two test cases for what do you do when a state goes bankrupt? In fact in D.C. when Paul Ryan and his buddies did that deal for Puerto Rico where they allowed the Puerto Rican politicians to basically steal 50 billion dollars and not pay it back, that whole program with the control board and everything else, that was being set up as a model for what to do when Illinois and Kentucky finally admit that they’re bankrupt.
Leahy: Illinois is run by Governor Pritzker who is a Democrat that inherited the Hyatt Hotel family money. This is guy clearly has his hand out looking for a big bailout. Kentucky now run by Democrat Andy Beshear took a shot at Republican Governor Bill Lee and interestingly enough Tennessee is one of the most fiscally sound states in the country and I guess these bailouts would be Tennessee taxpayers who’ve been frugal and responsible are going to be subsidizing the reckless spending of folks in blue states like Illinois.
Carmichael: Kentucky is an interesting case. It’s culturally conservative but because of the heavy industry and mining in Kentucky, the Democratic Party is pretty strong. Just like in Montana right? Because of the railroads and the mining industries in Montana, there is a strong Democratic Party in a culturally Conservative place. So Kentucky is a culturally Conservative place that’s run by Democrats and it’s almost a machine over there.
Leahy: Well it’s been back and forth on that. Matt Bevin was a Republican governor and before that, it was Andy Beshears’s dad who was a Democrats.
Leahy: Crom Carmichael and I live here right across the border. Compare Kentucky Crom with Tennessee in terms of politics.
Carmichael: In terms of politics or in terms of policy?
Leahy: Policy and governance.
Carmichael: Tennessee, as you said earlier, is one of the very best-governed states in the country. We don’t have a state income tax and that’s one of the reasons that we’re well-governed. Our politicians, if they want to raise taxes they essentially have to raise the sales tax which makes everybody mad at the same time so they’re reluctant to do that.
We have not had a sales tax raise increase in over a decade. So we’ve not had taxes go up in terms of rates here in Tennessee. Let me go back to Lamar Alexander. When he was governor he passed a bill that funded the highways out of a gasoline and diesel tax. And that bill has stood the test of time pretty darn well.
I’m not going to say perfectly but pretty darn well where the money that is raised from gasoline and diesel taxes pays for roads and bridges so that we are not bonding our roads and bridges. Then Haslam changed our pension plan for our state employees from a defined benefit to a defined contribution.
Leahy: So we in Tennessee have been quite responsible. I want to bring Neil back in on this.
Carmichael: Kentucky is exactly the opposite of all of those. Their government employees have managed to extract from the legislative benefits that have caused unfunded liability.
Leahy: There you go.
Carmichael: And that’s the single biggest difference which is enormous between Kentucky and Tennessee. Plus Kentucky has an income tax. So there is no compelling to move a business to Kentucky.
Leahy: Yes. Well, there is a lot of reasons not to move. Neil, do you see the big bailout part of this package happening? Do you see the blue states getting a whole bunch of money to bail them out?
McCabe: You know, I’ve reached the age now and look back and I no longer rely on Republicans to be fiscally responsible going into an election year. For all of their talky talk talk, they just figure we’ll just spend our way back as the Democrats do.
Conservatives are not Republicans. And the Republican leadership isn’t committed to Conservatism. They are committed to getting Conservative votes. And what we’re going to see is that they’re going to try to spend their way to keep their incumbents.
Leahy: Neil McCabe. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see how this all plays out. Neil is skeptical that the Republicans will hold their ground. History kind of supports them on that. Neil, thanks for joining us.
Listen to the third hour here:
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