Speeches & Floor Statements

Speech: Blount County Chamber Luncheon

Posted on May 5, 2016

Thank you. I told _ yesterday, we were in Kingsport and award all these pro-businesses . That is what I am supposed to do. For a long time, I have for various governors of both parties in Tennessee many of you have worked hard to create a pro-business environment, particularly for making things and manufacturing things, and no one has done a better job of that than Blount County.

I really should be honoring you. I am a little biased, but I don’t know any county that has figured out how smart it is to work together, better than you have. The county, the chamber, the mayors of all the cities here present a united front. I know, I absolutely know, for people who are looking for a place to grow jobs that are already here, that kind of continuity makes a big difference.

I had breakfast with Phil Bredesen the other day. Of course he was the democratic governor of Tennessee, and I asked him about what his biggest accomplishment was and thought he’d say, “Well, maybe it was my time as mayor. Or building a public library.”

He said, “One was trying to elevate the quality of government and two was creating a continuous line of stability among elected officials so that business leaders could count on those decisions.”

We’ve had that in Tennessee for about 40 years and nobody’s done that better than Blount County. Bryan deserves lots of credit for being honored in this past year and so does the Blount Partnership, and I congratulate you for that.

I see all of the mayors here, reminds me of a story. Right after I was elected for governor, I got a phone call and the state troopers came in and said, “There’s a man on the phone, and I got to talk to him, and he wants you to come pick up his garbage.” So I, being new to the job, I carefully wrote down his name and address, told him I’d take care of it. But I said, “I have one question, why’d you call the governor to come pick up your garbage? Why didn’t you call the mayor?” He said, “I didn’t want to go that high. I’ve got proper respect.”  

It’s been sort of an over the top presidential year, but one way to put that in perspective is to read a little history, which I like to do. I was reading a book about the first Congress which met in New York in 1789 in New York City. One of the rumors back then suggested to the President that public men ought to be dubbed with true descriptive titles, such as your _, your _, most fascist, most stupid. Vice President John Adams considered any congressman willing to__.

The differences today, 24 hour menus, talk radio, social media, back then not many people knew. Here’s a piece of wisdom that I thought might be useful from President Abraham Lincoln who had this to say: “elections belong to the people, it’s their decision if they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” I say ---. The – difference, you know the presidential race is actually been helpful in this way, its’s been such a distraction that we’ve been able to get quite a bit done. And no one’s looking past the law of fixing No Child Left Behind, appealing (repealing) the common core mandate, and --- the national school board. The Wall Street Journal said it was the first --- it transferred more power from Washington to the states than any other law in 25 years and I thinks that’s true and ill say more about that in a minute and an energy bill and --- long term highway bills, and --- bill, and there’s lots of things that we’re supposed to be doing, we’ve gotten done, but the focus hasn’t been on --- one of the things and the energy bill last week was to reimburse the counties for the government shut down, but that’s in a way, not a lot of money, but its symbolic, and that was a really dumb thing for the United States to do where our job is not to shut down the government, it is to keep it open and make it work for the tax payers --- and so Senator Fl--- or Arizona and I have introduced a bill that passed last week that will reimburse --- about 60,000 dollars. I’m looking forward to already going out to the towns--- to the collection center --- I’m sitting there in my --- looking --- and thinking how hard it must have been for the people who live in the mountains to have to move. And the collection center and the town center is really a tribute to them I thank --- and --- what they’ve done. The presidential election makes a difference I mean we have a Republican ---- focus --- the problem with the most radical part of this administration’s agenda has been --- agenda. You go right down a list of things and the problem with that is that the president can report the members of --- and he can appoint the labor secretary and they can do things and if we don’t like them then we can pass along overturning them but the president can veto it w 67 votes and probably one of the most examples is the new overtime rule. And I see tom – shaking his head now that --- didn’t --- on ---. But here’s what the whole association of independent colleges tell me. There might cost a college, like B---, a million dollars a year. Wow my – as much as 8 or 9,000 dollars per student to the tuition. Here’s what it does it doubles the amount of money everybody under a certain level has to be considered an hourly worker punch a time clock and be paid time and a half for over time, so that goes from like 23,000 dollars to 47,000 dollars under this rule proposed by the administration. --- not just for businesses, --- particularly, but the colleges and it also governmental institutions everybody --- and what are these for the employees is a lot of people hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans will be punching the time clock, they’re not going to like that very much. Cause a lot of those employees are trying to do their job they see themselves as assistant manager at a restaurant working their way up, they don’t mind coming in a little earlier and staying a little later so the owner or the boss who’s probably also working 12 to 14 hours a day that they’re ready to move up to the top and get a diff job, they can’t do that anymore. Because the owner will have to pay time and a half, or they will not be able to take the flexibility for 2 hour visit with a doctor or go see a kid’s game. It really interferes w both the employees and the employers and it --- a hugs cost to American business and if you add that to the ambush election where a union called election before the employees are employed --- or know much about what’s going on, the assault and joint employer rule which is really an assault on franchises. Ruby Tuesday, I don’t know how many franchises Ruby Tuesdays had, but under this rule, ruby t itself would have to be responsible for each of the franchises around the world. Well the corporate headquarters might decide we can’t take that risk so well just own all the stores so what does that do, we own about 750,00 franchises in the world. They’re the ones who work 12 to 14 hours a day, there’s a ticket to the middle class, you work, you build your restaurant or whatever it is up. And now this is going to discourage that from happening. So it makes a difference who’s elected in the president. Let me close with three very short stories, I think I’ve told you before and --- I’ll tell you one more time --- said may I make a suggestion, I said sure, he said when you speak you would say instead of making speech, let me tell you a story, somebody might actually listen to what you have to say. I’ll tell you three short ones. The last one involves someone from Maryland. The first one has to do with that James Madison memorial --- it was fixing No Child Left Behind repealing the common core mandate and reversing the transport of national school board. I remember going to --- High School and talking to some teachers and they were saying things why does Washington telling us how to have a better school? We know more than they do about that. Yes they do of course they do. Some schools are better than others, but if you really want higher standards of more – testing or you want to evaluate teaching or help a child in trouble; on the whole, responsibility has got to be with people closest to the children, and gradually we’ve had more of a national school board created and it made everybody mad so we had the national education association and the American federation of teachers unions and the governors both upset about it and as a result of that we were able literally grab hold of something and send those decisions back the Blount County in charge of its own schools, Maryland in charge of its own schools, I co-in-charge with some schools. Now the US department of education is resisting they’re trying to take back and write rules that are inconsistent with that law but I’m chairman of that committee at least for the rest of the year and I’ve got my spotlight on them and I’m going to be your biggest defender to making sure that those decisions can hold. That was the most important law congress passed last year 100,000 public schools --- 50 million children, 3 and a half million teachers. Here’s the most important law --- this year. --- and this story is about a guy named Doug Oliver from Nashville. Se – back then and – people know

Medicine. Do sent me an email, he’s 52 years old, last august he became blind from a form of macular degeneration that he inherited. And the Vanderbilt eye institute doctor said “no treatment, no cure, but check the internet,” which he had someone do and he found a clinical trial research trial down in Florida. They went down there under an FDA approval procedure. They stuck a needle in his hip bone, took out some of his own cells, put in a centrifuge and injected those cells into his own eyes and three days later he could see. And he has gotten his drivers license back, which he gave up 11 years ago because of blindness and he’s thinking about going back to work in August. He can see so well, he’s sitting there reading all the hearings we are having and sending us emails about what we are doing and urging us on.

We’re working on legislation to try to move through the regular course of the investment process more rapidly. The treatment secures that out --- is remarkable today. Dr. Francis Collins, who is the head of the National Institute of Health who spends about 32 billion dollars of your money on medical research every year, testified before --- committee the other day and said these are some of the things he expects to happen in 10 years. He pretty well knows what he’s talking about. He was the guy who figured out the Human Genome Project. He led that for 12 years and now he’s got this job. For what he said, artificial pancreas, he thinks there’ll be an artificial pancreas in 10 years. And if you’ve got diabetes or know anyone who has that, you know the problem is checking the blood and --- the exact insulin. And that’s what that will do. He said instead of heart transplants --- rebuilding your heart if you have a diseased heart with your own cells. Put --- out of business --- it’s sort of like the blindness thing, you use your own cells and those cells rebuild what’s going on, that’s in 10 years. Opioid addiction is an epidemic to --- and many places in the country because of pain medicine. He says within 10 years, we should have new forms of pain management medicines that are non-addictive. Think of the difference that would make --- there will be by 2018 a vaccine for Zika, the virus that you’ve heard so much about for these young couples that might be about to have a baby. There should be a vaccine for HIV-AIDS in the next 10 years which would be an amazing thing. Those are some of the kinds of things he’s talking about. What we’re trying to do this year is pass legislation --- 20% --- speed that up and make Americans have the advantage of that. And here’s the last story. Last January 27th, Senator Corker and I were invited to go to the Israeli Embassy. A man was being honored there named R--- E---. His son Chris E--- is a pasture of the Piney Grove Baptist Church and ---. R--- E--- was one of 1,400 soldiers who was captured in the battle of the Bulge and on January 27th 1945, the same day 20 years ago, they were --- in front of a German officer who said “tell all the Jews to step forward.” E---, 20 or so years old said back to the German officer, “We’re all Jews.” The --- officer put his gun to his head and said “tell me who the Jews are or I’ll shoot you.” And E--- said back to him, “you have to shoot all of us then because we know who you are, and you’ll be tried as a war criminal when the war is over.” And the German officer went away. I stood next to a guy named Lester Tanner from New York City, who is --- years old now and --- and I said did you really say those words, I stood next to him and he said those words and he said there were probably 200 of us who were Jewish soldiers who would have been sent into camps and probably die. A few days later, I heard George Shultz, president Reagan’s former Secretary of State, do an interview who is 95. Someone asked him what his advice would be for the next president. He said, “I think I would advise the next president to remind us what’s good about the country.” And that’s pretty good advice. It’s easy enough to think about what’s wrong, we hear every day, especially the presidential campaign, but it’s also not so hard to think about what’s right. This is a --- of business --- and there’s not many places in the world, maybe not any, where you’d rather start your own business and live. This is a country that has all the production, about a quarter of all the money in the world for this 4 to 5 percent of the people. --- that biomedical research that I just talked about, that’s not that big to that extent anywhere else in the world, has the best colleges and universities, people wind up around the world to come to our colleges and universities, the finest military, and it has people like R--- E---. You know who grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee, probably had never, probably didn’t know 5 Jewish people in his whole life, but he knew enough about the country to know that he should say we’re all Americans.

I thank you for the privilege for this honor today, I rather should be honoring you, but I especially thank you for the privilege of Blount County and M---, and having the privilege of serving the United States Senate because I find every day when I --- on it, I can find more --- about --- future. It is a great privilege to be here, thank you.