Alexander: Obama team lacks business sense

Alexander: Obama team lacks business sense

September 11th, 2010 by Andy Johns in Politics

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said President Barack Obama is placing too much emphasis on government jobs and not doing enough to grow the private sector.

"The Obama administration really doesn't understand about private sector jobs because most of them have never worked outside of government," he said. "Maybe we ought to require everyone who serves in government to join one board of directors of a private company and attend board meetings four times a year just so they know how it's done."

Before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, Alexander served on the boards for Martin Marietta Corp., Corrections Corporation of America, Education Networks of America and Corporate Child Care Inc., where he helped build a fortune he estimated last year was worth more than $12.1 million.

Corker expects to seek 2nd term

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the lone new Republican elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, said he is preparing to seek another term in 2012.

"I'm pretty invigorated about using my base of knowledge and experiences that I have had to focus on financial issues and others," Corker recently told reporters and editors of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "I think I have developed a little niche in the Senate, so right now I certainly plan to run for re-election."

Corker said he could face opposition from within the Republican Party, as Tea Party and conservative groups rally against senators such as Corker who voted in 2008 for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to help rescue troubled banks and Wall Street firms.

"I understand the tough environment and I've got a record that my opponents can get a plethora of 30-second attack ads from to attack me," he said.

But Corker said he has worked to cut spending and debt and called himself the most bipartisan Republican in the Senate to help solve problems. Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said TARP "helped save the economy" from an even bigger downturn.

Wamp jabs at primary opponent

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., took a jab at the Republican nominee for governor Wednesday.

Wamp appeared at a news conference where Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield called for unity in the wake of the failed recall attempt.

When Wamp, who described himself as a "low-tax conservative," was asked about the tax increase that led to the recall effort, he slapped at his former opponent, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.

"The mayor of Knoxville raised taxes about the same amount," Wamp said, referring to Knoxville's 13 percent property tax hike in 2004. "And he's going to be the governor of Tennessee."

Wamp lost to Haslam in the Aug. 5 GOP primary, but later said the two had reconciled for the general election campaign.

Wamp eyes offers from private sector

Wamp said "a lot of opportunities are being presented" to him from private businesses and trade associations interested in hiring him once he leaves Congress in January.

Wamp, who gave up his seat in Congress to run for governor, said he has been contacted by numerous groups about working with them on energy, defense and transportation issues.

"It's like a funnel in my life with a big wide opening at the top with a lot going in right now," he said. "I have to narrow those ideas down in the next few months to see what is in the mix for me come January."

Wamp said he plans to work a while in the private sector and not in government.

"I really don't have any desire to lobby," he said, insisting he will keep his home in Chattanooga. "I think I can help organizations by giving them consulting advice and I do have a desire to help companies succeed. I'll probably be bouncing around Oak Ridge, Nashville and Washington D.C."

"Hard way to build character"

Alexander offered praise and condolences last week for fellow Chattanooga Republicans who lost GOP primary races in the Aug. 5 election.

Alexander, who lost presidential primary campaigns in 1996 and 2000, said he knows firsthand the hurt of defeat.

"People tell you when you run and get beat that it was a noble effort that helps build your character," Alexander told the Chattanooga Pachyderm Club. "Well, that's a hard way to build character."

Alexander said Wamp, who lost to Haslam in the primary, "has been absolutely terrific" in Congress over the past 14 years.

The senior Tennessee senator also called Robin Smith an effective leader of the Hamilton County Republican Party from 1998 to 2002 and the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2008. She was defeated by Chattanooga attorney Chuck Fleischmann in Tennessee's 3rd District congressional primary last month.

Alexander said he is ready to campaign with Fleischmann.

"We need a change in Washington," he said.

AT&T boosts reading

AT&T gave Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey's Read 20 initiative a financial boost on Thursday, according to a news release.

AT&T Regional Director Mary Stewart Lewis presented the company's $5,000 donation to the mayor.

The initiative strives to get children reading at grade level by the time they leave the third grade.

The release says Read 20 has distributed 146,000 books in four years. The mayor's office says the program has encouraged 33,000 parents to read with their children daily.

"From the day we conceived the idea of Read 20 this has been our goal, to increase awareness of the importance of reading and enlist the most important people to participate in this effort, our parents," Ramsey said in the press release. "I cannot tell you how good it makes me feel to know that parents are involved in their children's education.

"There is nothing more satisfying than when a child takes a book and starts reading to you."

Compiled by Dave Flessner,, and Dan Whisenhunt,