The president was outvoted in Bradley County in the November 2012 election by a 3.4 to 1 margin in favor of Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The Romney-Ryan ticket received 27,417 votes compared to 8,035 for the sitting president and vice president.
Republicans, including both the city and county mayor, occupy all of the Cleveland City Council and Bradley County Commission seats. The only remaining elected offices occupied by Democrats are in the legal system.
Bradley County Democratic Party Chair Tammy Magouirk said Obama laid out his vision for a thriving middle class that rewards hard work and gives everyone a fair shot.
“President Obama has never stopped fighting for middle class families. From saving the auto industry and helping students pay for college to securing tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and taking on a broken health care system. The president and Democrats in Congress have worked to improve the lives of hard-working Americans. Although our country is on the right track, there is more work to be done.”
She said President Obama laid out a clear vision for what can be done to spur economic growth and build an economy from the middle class, rebuild a failing infrastructure to help businesses, expand access to affordable health care, education and secure a retirement for people.
“It’s time for Republicans in Congress, like U.S. Reps. Chuck Fleishmann and Scott DesJarlais to stop refighting old battles and putting a victory in the polls ahead of a victory for Tennesseans,” she said. “It’s time for Republicans to work with President Obama on giving the middle class a better bargain.”
But, Fleischmann said in a press release the president’s corporate tax offer almost identically mirrored his 2012 proposal that never amounted to anything more than words in a speech.
“The president mentioned a lower corporate tax rate and an increased focus on manufacturing jobs and infrastructure. However, until he does more than give a speech on these issues, I’ll remain in the ‘believe it when I see it’ category.”
Fleischmann said Obama completely cut all funding to the Chickamauga Lock in the past two budgets and overly burdensome policies continue to impede actual job growth.
DesJarlais said the president’s speech clearly reflected he still does not grasp how jobs are created and an economy is rebuilt.
“His misguided approach of more government intervention might help create jobs in Washington, D.C., but not here in Tennessee,” DesJarlais said. “One example of this was the president’s call for reforming our corporate tax code, something I agree with. But where Republicans want to reform our tax code so businesses can keep more of their money to reinvest in the form of new jobs, the president stated he wants to send that money back to Washington to have his bureaucrat friends dole it out.
“Tennessee businesses are tired of the ‘Washington knows best’ approach that has been embraced by this president,” he added. “They are not asking anything of government except for government to get out of the way.”
None of the state delegation in Washington opted to make the trip to Chattanooga, including Sen. Bob Corker, a former mayor of that city, who issued the most polite rejection letter to the president.
“I hated for the president to come to my hometown and not accompany him, especially because it would have provided an opportunity for us to talk more about our country’s fiscal challenges,” the senator said. “But ultimately, with only three days left in this work period and several scheduled hearings and votes today, it seemed best to stay in Washington and do the work Tennesseans elected me to do.”
On the state level, Tennessee House Democrats took advantage of Obama’s appearance in the state. They applauded the speech on the need to reinvest in building a strong, sustainable middle class.
“We are so proud that President Obama chose Tennessee to present his vision for cutting taxes and investing in job growth,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said. “Under the leadership of former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, House Democrats worked to create a mix of incentives and lower taxes that attracted companies like Amazon and Volkswagen to Tennessee. We are happy to see President Obama use this model of success as the basis for his proposals to expand the middle class.”
Turner stated the president’s plan, labeled the Grand Bargain 2.0 by some, would involve reforming and lowering the tax code for businesses in order to increase global competitiveness.
He said the president’s plan would remove incentives to locate overseas and encourage manufacturing in the United States through lower and more simplified taxes. In addition, the plan would increase investments in infrastructure and higher education programs that would train Tennesseans for the jobs of the 21st century.
“I can’t say enough how great it was to have President Obama choose Chattanooga to present his plan to grow the middle class,” said Rep. Joanne Favors, D-Chattanooga.
“Instead of launching attacks, President Obama is offering solutions. I truly hope that Republicans will put aside their partisan differences and work with the president to help the people of Chattanooga, Tennessee and the United States. President Obama offered bipartisan solutions for expanding our economy, now we just need bipartisan leadership to see it gets done.”