By Pat Nolan, NEWSCHANNEL5 Political Analyst
BIDEN TAKES POLLING HIT FROM CLASSIFIED DOCUMENT SNAFU; ANOTHER DEBT CEILING FIGHT LOOMS AHEAD SOMEWHAT SOONER THAN EXPECTED; CONGRESSMAN JOHN ROSE ON INSIDE POLITICS; GOVERNOR BILL LEE BEGINS HIS SECOND TERM; THE REPUBLICAN SUPER MAJORITY IS AT IT AGAIN; MAYORAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE DISCLOSURES BEGIN; EYEPOPPING NUMBERS AGAIN
BIDEN TAKES POLLING HIT FROM CLASSIFIED DOCUMENT SNAFU
It’s the beginning of the third year of Joe Biden’s President
It has also been week two of President Biden’s classified and top-secret documents snafu.
After a few months of seeing his job approval numbers slowly inching up, the discovery of three caches of documents in an office he occupied in Washington and in his home in Delaware, the damage was unavoidable, and his job numbers drop can be seen in the latest polls.
Team Biden was slow to get into full crisis mode, especially on why the first discovery of documents found before the November election, was not publicly disclosed at that time. Then, with the finding of two other groups of documents, it kept the White House on the defensive, perhaps wondering when the next firecracker in this scandal might explode.
But fortunately for them, it appears in other polling, the public thinks while what happened is serious and inappropriate for Mr. Biden, it is not a criminal offense.
Of course, former President Donald Trump is facing similar criticisms and investigations over his mishandling of classified and top-secret documents. While his efforts to defend himself and seek to stop any probes seems to place Mr. Trump’s controversy in a more serious light, it may be that there are enough similarities with the Biden situation to muddy up the pursuit of criminal charges.
On the economic front this week, the news was somewhat mixed for President Biden. In another sign the worst of the ongoing spike in inflation may be easing, wholesale prices for December are down again and by a number larger than expected. Retail sales however are also down for December, a sign that shoppers trimmed their Christmas list to deal with the continued crush of inflation.
On the GOP side, former President Trump, while seemingly trying to breathe new life in his so far lackluster 2024 presidential campaign, instead created a new controversy by criticizing a lack of support from evangelicals, a group that, so far, has been among his most loyal supporters.
As for House Republicans, it becomes more and more clear just how much new Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, had to give up to win his post. Top committee assignments went to those GOP House members who tried to stop his Speaker candidacy, a few of whom pledged to never vote or support him.
Another continuing problem facing Speaker McCarthy and his already narrow House majority, are the new disclosures and growing calls for New York Republican congressman George Santos to resign as new stories about the lies he has told about his background and investigations underway, including one in Brazil. Even other Republican House members are being pulled into the controversy.
But even as the controversies rage, Speaker McCarthy placed Santos on two low profile House committees.
Santos says he won’t resign and Speaker McCarthy says he won’t ask him to step because he was elected by the voters. However, it is likely almost none of Santos’ constituents knew about his admitted lies and all the other allegations until after the election.
ANOTHER DEBT CEILING FIGHT LOOMS AHEAD SOMEWHAT SOONER THAN EXPECTED
Everybody has known it was coming.
It won’t reach a crisis point of no return until maybe June but that is only because federal financial officials are taking extraordinary actions.
What is this all about?
Yesterday the nation bumped up against its debt ceiling limit of over $31 trillion.
If the ceiling isn’t raised, the federal government will, for the first time be in default on its debts, which has all kinds of bad consequences.
We’ve been down this road before. In 2011, under President Obama, Congress came so close to default, one rating agency lowered the nation’s credit’s rating, raising the interest rates on what we owe.
Now there is growing concern, with the hard line conservatives in the House now more in control, they will push the effort to link spending cuts (including Social Security and Medicare) to raising the debt limit. Doing that this time, may see the country go all the way over the fiscal cliff. They don’t call several of these hard line conservatives, “the Chaos Caucus” for nothing.
It is hard to see what the ultimate game plan is for Speaker McCarthy. The kinds of cuts being talked about would never pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Biden would veto the cuts if they came to his desk. In fact, he won’t even discuss or negotiate the matter, saying the debt limit concerns what the already the nation already owes not future spending. Can you imagine going to your creditors and telling them you plan less money in the future. Very good, they might say, but we need you to pay your current debt now.
Stay tuned, this game of political chicken could drone on until nearly summer, with huge political consequences, for both parties, Speaker McCarthy keeping his job and the 2024 election hanging in the balance.
CONGRESSMAN JOHN ROSE ON INSIDE POLITICS
As the new Congress settles into its work after a tumultuous start, the Nashville area now has three congressmen representing the broader area of Middle Tennessee.
All three are Republicans.
One of them is Congressman John Rose of Cookeville, who is starting his third term in office while adding eastern portions of Davidson County including Donelson, Hermitage, and points to the northeast to his 6th District.
Congressman Rose is no stranger to INSIDE POLITICS. He joins us again on the program this week.
INSIDE POLITICS can be seen on its regular weekly schedule on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS.
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Finally, I am now posting a link to the show each week on my own Facebook page, sometime the week after the show airs.
GOVERNOR BILL LEE BEGINS HIS SECOND TERM
This Saturday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will be sworn in for his second four-year term. The inauguration will occur on Legislative Plaza during a joint session of the General Assembly.
“Tennessee: Leading the Nation” is the theme for the event, which will include a worship service, ceremony, dinner, and inaugural ball over the course of the day. Being a state for now over 225 years, ceremonies like this have a long history. The Tennessee State Museum has issued a news release with photos of some really neat artifacts from inaugurations past.
Governor Lee will also deliver his second inaugural address. Will he give us any more clues about his legislative agenda, especially his new plan to create a public-private partnership and “choice lanes” to relieve road congestion. Or will we have to wait for annual “State of the State” address in a few weeks?
I covered my first inauguration in 1975 when Ray Blanton became governor. I have covered or observed the swearing of every Tennessee Chief Executive since. Many times the weather has been challenging as might be expected for an outdoor event in January. The ceremony for Governor was moved indoors to the War Memorial Auditorium because of ice storm.
When Governor Sundquist was sworn in 1995, it was quite cold with a brisk wind. When I got off the broadcast platform after sitting in a commander’s chair for well over an hour, I found it was tough to walk. The wind had blown under my feet and shoes, basically turning them into two blocks of ice.
The forecast for Saturday is sunny with a high of 45 at noon with a light east-northeast wind at 5 miles per hour. But dress warmly anyway, in layers.
THE REPUBLICAN SUPER MAJORITY IS AT IT AGAIN
As if it is not enough that the Republican Super Majority in the Legislature has become the nation’s largest school board, telling teachers and educators what they can or cannot teach in the classroom and what books they can or can’t have in their libraries and classes. This Super Majority is a group that constantly seeks to find new ways to persecute LGBTQ Tennesseans, and especially trans youth and their parents.
This is a super-majority that every year passes laws making it easier to own or carry a firearm even if our cities continued to see yearly increases in weapons stolen, especially out of cars, and then used to commit crimes. This is also a majority that passed a law to completely ban abortion. Then when there was pushback, some of them claimed there could be exemptions if the doctor wanted to use as their defense in court (after being indicted for a felony) that there was rape or incest, or the life of the mother was involved.
Now after all these and other “accomplishments”, THE TENNSSEE OUTLOOK reports the Super Majority wants to be a statewide election commission, dictating through a constitutional amendment, just when us poor voters can go to the polls. They want to move county and judicial election dates from August to November. Why? It seems, just because they want to, even if it crowds the ballot (remember the lines of voters last year reading the amendments on ballot in the voting booth?).
And, based on the TENNESSEE LOOKOUT story, that’s not all they have in mind for elections.
Dictating how many councilmembers there can be in Nashville (out of revenge) seems to be just the beginning of this latest power grab.
MAYORAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE DISCLOSURES BEGIN
Regardless of what the General Assembly does to the Metro Council, Nashville’s mayoral election is set for the first Tuesday in August.
By the end of this month, candidates who have named a treasurer must disclose their fundraising and expenses through January 15.
While Mayor John Cooper has not officially announced he is seeking re-election, he has been doing some fundraising, so his report will be interesting.
One of the Mayor’s likely opponents, Matt Wiltshire has already filed his report. Wiltshire is a former top aide for economic development under two former mayors (Dean & Barry) and later a top official at the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency for affordable housing. He has raised $1.3 million in the last six months. That includes nearly $900,000 from 1,300 individual donors. The rest of the funds raised ($400,000) are a personal loan from his family.
Both Wiltshire and Mayor Cooper are known to have personal resources to help self-fund perhaps a significant part of their campaigns.
The other two likely candidates with treasurers are both Metro Councilmember. Freddie O’Connell represents downtown and the Germantown and the Salem neighborhoods. Sharon Hurt is an At- Large member and the only African American and female candidate in the race.
Hurt just announced her candidacy a few weeks ago, so her financial report may not full reflect her abilities as a fundraiser. O’Connell has been raising money longer, so his report may better indicate his financial viability as a mayoral candidate.
Outside of his first financial report, another sign that Wiltshire may emerge as the leading challenger to Mayor Cooper is his endorsement from Nashville businessman and civic leader Kevin Crumbo. Crumbo also served in the key position of Finance Director under Mayor Cooper, including during the difficult financial times for Nashville caused by the pandemic.
Financial wherewithal is not the be all and end all. Some of the biggest spenders in Metro Mayoral election history (Phil Bredesen in 1987 and Bill Freeman in 2015) did not come out on top. But fundraising is a key to getting campaign messages out and to show that a candidate has a broad base of support.
EYEPOPPING NUMBERS AGAIN
It has now been more than a decade since Nashville was nicknamed “The It City.”
Some people say they no longer go or feel safe being downtown because of the tourist scene.
But a record number of people from far and wide still did come to our city in 2022…and the future continues appears to be bright for the years to come, although you do have to wonder about all the additional hotels now in the development pipeline!
Another late breaking, eyepopping development is the announcement that the legendary long- time leader of the city’s Convention and Visitors Corporation, Butch Spyridon is retiring.