published Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Ramsey criticizes Wamp on spending

Audio clip

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey

NASHVILLE -- Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey on Tuesday accused GOP gubernatorial rival Zach Wamp, a Chattanooga congressman, of having "never seen an earmark he didn't like."

"My good friend Zach Wamp has never voted for a spending cut. He's never seen an earmark he didn't like," Lt. Gov. Ramsey, R-Blountville and the Senate speaker, told GOP activists at Nashville's First Tuesday luncheon. "We can't do that here in the state of Tennessee. We have to live within our means."

Efforts to contact Wamp campaign officials were unsuccessful. Rep. Wamp serves on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee and has secured a number of specially designated congressional appropriations, known as earmarks, for the 3rd District he represents and other areas.

Lt. Gov. Ramsey's remark came after a speech and in response to an audience member's question. The questioner, Jesse Hughes, a former legislative staffer, said U.S. Rep. Wamp is "fond of pointing out you voted for the largest tax hike in Tennessee history, but during his six self-limited terms and two overtime terms (in Congress), I notice the national debt went from $4.8 trillion to ... $12.3 billion."

Sen. Ramsey acknowledged voting for the 1-cent sales-tax increase in July 2002. But he pointed out it came as Republican Gov. Don Sundquist and other income tax advocates were pressing legislators to approve the controversial plan.

"The goal was to keep us there for however long it took until we finally gave in," Lt. Gov. Ramsey recalled. "But in the end we pulled a coalition together, Democrat and Republican, passed the sales tax increase, drove a stake as I said in the heart of an income tax forever and went home."

Lt. Gov. Ramsey also noted that he is backing Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen's plan to cut state spending in the 2010-11 budget because of continued revenue shortages.

Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor came under fire from state Democrats for other remarks he made to the GOP activists.

In response to a question from Maclin Davis, longtime legal counsel for the Tennessee Republican Party, about President Obama's status as a U.S. citizen, the lieutenant governor said, "I don't know whether President Obama is a citizen of the United States or not. I don't know what the whole deal is there."

"But," Mr. Ramsey said, "I'm going to tell you something. When you walk out on the street down here, people don't really care about this issue."

He told Mr. Davis that voters care more about things such as jobs and education.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester later said in a statement that Sen. Ramsey "would rather pander to a far-right wing group of conspiracy theorists than govern in a pragmatic approach that most Tennesseans expect from their political leaders."

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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joseph said...

Lt. Gov. Ramsey's pandering to the lunatic fringe of the Republican party does a great disservice to the people he's supposed to serve. The whole "birther" nonsense, is just that, nonsense. Many people, much brighter than Ramsey is apparently, would have been very quick to use this bit of information (if true) during the election, because it would have immediately derailed Obama's candidacy as illegitimate. Perhaps preventing Ramsey from sticking his proverbial foot in his mouth. Besides, this red herring does nothing but muddy the political waters and increases the polarized atmosphere in the country. The people who continue to cling to this ridiculous notion, I suspect, have more of an issue with Obama's ethnic heritage and liberal-leaning politics, but find themselves outnumbered by the majority of their fellow countrymen. So instead they cling to the idea that by some miracle he'll be "found out" as some sort of Marxist sleeper agent and he'll get tossed out on that account. I guess its okay to have a dream. But wouldn't it be something if it weren't so pitifully pathetic?

February 3, 2010 at 8 a.m.
johnh said...

Lt Governor Ramsey has been too busy fleecing the PAC's selling out this sessions legislative agenda. In the past 6 months alone he got another $100,000.00 from PACS for his campaign for Governor. He is truly committed to any special interest that will give to his campaign.

We should all keep a close eye on his activities particularly the Press. It looks like he has a lot in common with Joe Biden as he continuously make these absurd statements.

Zach Wamp has not lined his personal pockets as a member of congress. Look at how Ramsey uses the Lt. Governors office and one can only imagine how wealthy he would become as governor.

February 3, 2010 at 9:04 a.m.
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