During a segment titled “Booming Or Busting: Cities And Regions After The Recession,” the show’s host, On Point’s Tom Ashbrook, tossed out all the kudos that have been filling the media lately — we’re the “it” city, “simply Nowville!” — and then welcomed Mayor Karl Dean to the airwaves to bask in the glory.
The show’s other guest, Atlantic magazine senior editor Richard Florida, called the mayor “a fabulous guy” before getting down to business and really covering Dean in flattering slobber.
“I just spent good part of last week in Nashville and spent time with the mayor,” Florida said excitedly as if he’d just spotted Nicole Kidman at Noshville. “I got to sing happy birthday to the mayor with a fella named Jack White. It was kind of a highlight of my life, believe it or not.”
Florida hailed Nashville’s “integrated creative economy,” whatever that is. He added, “Everyone’s on the same page and feels empowered” and said that was all Dean’s doing.
Dean could hardly get in a word edgewise and must have been fist-pumping the air as he listened to all this BS on the phone. Then Ashbrook decided to take a turd-in-the-punchbowl call from a listener — some smartass named Jan — and the party was over.
Jan wanted to know what Dean had to say about Gov. Bill Haslam’s refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare “and the fact that some of our major corporations and universities are actually losing jobs in the medical field because of that refusal to join in.”
“Mayor Dean,” Ashbrook asked. “You’re a big medical center. Is that hurting your medical industry?
Dean: Well, I think we’ve seen in the last couple of months hospitals in particular have had pressure on them to make cuts because they’re not earning the income they were earning before.
Ashbrook: Is it because of Governor Bill Haslam’s decision to opt out of …
Dean: Ah, what I understand and I’ve talked actually to the head of Vanderbilt’s medical group about this and you know I think that’s a portion of it. It’s certainly not all of it. Part of it is the population is aging into government-supported insurance versus private insurance and then there are other sort of financial issues related to it. It’s not the entire issue but it’s certainly part of it. And what the governor has tried to do is to find a sort of third way, a Tennessee way of dealing with this, and we’ll see how that goes. I mean, obviously you know right now in we’re anxious to see our medical sector of our economy continue to flourish and we’ll see how it plays out. But this is something that the governor has had discussions with the White House and others in D.C. trying to find a different solution and I wish him the best of luck.
So there you have it. Our mayor — a Democrat frequently mentioned as a leading possibility to run for governor himself someday — apparently thinks it’s just peachy keen that Haslam and the Republicans running the state are putting the screws to Nashville’s health care industry. Or maybe he’s just too timid to criticize them. Either way, his answer was really lame.
We imagine Dean would rather not upset the governor because the city needs things from state government. There are negotiations on now, for instance, over the land for a new Sounds ballpark. Be that as it may, he's not doing our hospitals any favors by remaining silent about the need for Medicaid expansion. The only way to make Tennessee's Republicans reverse course on Obamacare is to point out that they're damaging our economy and call them out on it.