Friday, February 27, 2009

Bredesen Desperately Trying to 'Clarify' Position on Jobless Benefits

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 7:23 AM

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There's a story in the New York Times today about how the governors of nine states are thinking about rejecting federal economic stimulus money for laid-off workers, and "there is growing anger among the ranks of the jobless in those states that they could be left out of a significant government benefit." From the Gray Lady:
The Republican governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, along with Alaska and Idaho, have raised protests, saying that expansion could eventually require them to raise taxes. On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee became the first Democratic governor to express reservations on the issue.
It's unfortunate timing for Bredesen because this is also the day that newspapers are reporting Tennessee's unemployment rate jumped to nearly 9 percent in January. And then there's that health and human services job that our governor covets. To win a spot in Obama's Cabinet, it's not exactly a great PR strategy to appear in the national media disrespecting the president's stimulus package along with such governors as Sarah Palin. Maybe that's why Bredesen has been hopping on cable TV lately at every opportunity to try to explain himself.

On MSNBC, he seemed to be trying to back away from what he said previously. Now, he's saying, "I think this plan, on the whole, is a very good thing. I think we're going to use 99 and probably 100 percent of the money."

As for those Republican governors who are rejecting the money, Bredesen says, "I think there's a whole lot of posturing going on here."

Later on CNN, he told Lou Dobbs he didn't think this little dust-up will hurt his chances of landing the HHS position. He said he foresees no "troubles with the White House" for questioning this "one narrow piece" of the stimulus. But the damage already may have been done. Politico has taken to referring to the governor as "recently rumored to be an HHS candidate."

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