Judson Phillips Commentary: An Agenda for 2021

by Judson Phillips


In Tennessee, the election hoopla is over, even though we haven’t had the election yet. President Trump will carry the state. Bill Hagerty will destroy his unknown Democrat opponent.  The Republicans will maintain a supermajority in the Legislature.

Conservatives need to think about 2021 and need to think about winning in 2021.  Getting conservatives united is a difficult task.  Trust me, I know from personal experience.  To say it is harder than herding cats is an understatement.

Conservatives all have separate agendas.  Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don’t.  Conservatives need to unite on a conservative agenda for 2021.  All conservative groups have an agenda. It might be Second Amendment or Right to Life.  These are all laudable goals, but conservatives need to pick out five items or so that the Legislature must deal with in 2021 and not shirk on.

First, the Legislature should enact a taxpayer protection act.  Those of us who live in middle Tennessee have seen Nashville’s mayor and wannabe dictator, John Cooper, shove a 34% tax hike down the throats of Nashvillians.   A taxpayer protection act should say that any city or county that wants to raise taxes, must put it on the ballot and have the voters approve the tax increase before it can take effect.

Second, the State needs a GRAC.  GRAC means government realignment and closure committee.  In the 1990’s, Bill Clinton wanted to blow the peace dividend, but the military’s biggest expense was on bases and no Senator or Congressman would support closing a base in their state or district. So, someone proposed a committee to pick out bases that were unnecessary or duplicative.  And the hammer on that proposal was, the Congress could only accept or reject the entire package. There could be no amendments to protect a base.  The state needs to do the same thing.

The state needs to create a government realignment and closure committee that will propose significant budget cuts by eliminating wasteful, duplicative or failed programs.  The recommendations must be accepted or rejected. There can be no amendments.

In 2014, Tennessee’s budget was a little over $30 billion.  In 2020, the state’s budget had shot up to over $39 billion.  The state has shown a complete lack of willingness to confront the explosive growth in spending.

Third, redistrict Jim Cooper out of a job.  In 2010, the Republicans had taken control of the Legislature and had an opportunity to slice the 5th Congressional District up and make it a Republican district.  Backroom deals were cut and the 5th remained a solidly Democrat district.   There is no reason for that to happen this time. The legislature will redistrict Tennessee in 2021 and the top priority must be to make Tennessee’s Congressional delegation eight Republicans and that guy from Memphis.

Fourth, we need a many more elected officials.  The Legislature is considering a no-confidence vote in Penny Schwinn, the Education Commissioner.   Some are asking how she was even hired.  The question I’m asking is, why isn’t the Education Commissioner an elected position?  Tennessee has the fewest statewide elected officials in the United States. We only have three, the governor and two senators.   Why isn’t the Education Commissioner elected?  Why aren’t the Lieutenant Governor and the Attorney General elected by the people?  Why aren’t the Secretary of State, the State Controller, and the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance elected?  There are approximately 22 commissioners in the State Government.  Why aren’t all of those positions elected?

Finally, we need to restrict the power of the Governor and city and county mayors to simply declare emergencies and rule like dictators.  State Representative Glen Casada has already indicated he will introduce legislation to limit the power of the governor to declare an emergency and use emergency powers.   While the governor’s abuses have been pretty bad, they pale in comparison to what Nashville’s mayor has done.  The legislature needs to limit emergency power declarations to ten days and provide a mechanism for citizens to sue if they are overbroad and have the state or city pay their legal bills if they successfully sue.

These are only a few suggestions.  These are a few items that conservatives should all be able to agree on and support.  Conservatives should tell our legislators in no uncertain terms, that we want this agenda passed in 2021.

And once we do this, we will be back in 2022.

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Judson Phillips is a long time conservative pundit and founder of Tea Party Nation.




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