Political notebook: Fleischmann readies for 'Chuck on the Job'

Political notebook: Fleischmann readies for 'Chuck on the Job'

February 19th, 2011 in News

Two months after being sworn as a U.S. congressman, Republican Chuck Fleischmann is ready to take on a new job next week.

The 48-year-old attorney isn't giving up his new seat in Congress. But he will work a shift Thursday at Hoskins Drug Store in Clinton, Tenn., as part of his "Chuck on the Job" initiative.

"Business owners and employees across America have been hurting the last few years, and many of my colleagues in Washington have lost touch with the problems and the people experiencing them," Fleischmann said in a news release. "That is why I am beginning my initiative to work at local businesses in the 3rd District as I return home throughout the year."

Fleischmann is a member of the House Small Business Committee.

White House sees barge tax

The Obama White House pledged this week to work toward a new funding approach for stalled projects like the Chickamauga lock in Chattanooga.

But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is building the $600 million replacement lock at the Chickamauga Dam, rejected a barge-industry plan to shift more costs from the industry to taxpayers.

The rising costs of the Olmsted dam and lock project on the Ohio River and a recession-induced drop in barge fuel taxes have drained the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. With only $77 million now in the trust fund, Corps officials said it will be at least three years before money is available under the current funding formula for inland waterway projects such as the new Chickamauga lock.

Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, said the administration rejected the Inland Waterways Users Board's proposal to raise the barge fuel tax in exchange for the federal government paying for most of the multibillion-dollar Olmsted project.

"The administration will work with Congress to revise the laws governing the waterways trust fund to increase the level of money paid by the commercial navigation users to meet their share of the cost of eligible projects," Darcy told reporters during a budget briefing Monday.

Corker: debt "greatest threat"

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., agrees with a top military official that "the greatest threat" to U.S. security is the growing federal debt, not a foreign attack on the United States.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel this week that said unless the U.S. debt is controlled "our national power will erode."

Corker, who is pushing his Commitment to American Prosperity act to limit government spending to 20.6 percent of the gross domestic product, agreed with Mullen.

"The notion that we have a lot of time to address this challenge is both naive and dangerous," Corker said.

The federal deficit is projected to top $1.6 trillion this year, with government spending at 24.7 percent of gross GDP.

How do you say that?

TVA Chairman Dennis Bottorff struggled briefly Friday to pronounce a speaker's name during a listening session in the first-ever TVA board meeting in North Carolina.

The banker-turned-venture capitalist acknowledged that pronouncing names isn't always easy in his family.

"I've been married for more than 40 years and it was only a couple of weeks ago that my own wife pronounced my name right," Bottorff quipped.