Who Should Replace Tom Daschle? Not Phil Bredesen

Rumors in DC are that Phil Bredesen, Tennessee’s controversial governor, is on a very short list to lead DHHS and the national health reform effort. This is an enormously bad idea. Not only did Bredesen preside over huge health cuts that hurt thousands in Tennessee, he made his fortune in the HMO industry. He’s got ethical problems of his own (as Ezra Klein writes.) When Bredesen’s wife decided a few years ago that the Gov’s mansion needed a $9.4 million makeover, guess who donated $150,000 to the effort? That’s right, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

There are plenty of other good candidates out there for this important job. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has the political smarts and health background to be a top contender. Cindy Mann, former director of family and children’s health programs in DHHS under the Clinton Administration and now head of Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, would be a natural choice. She even drives her own car and pays her taxes. With candidates like these, choosing Phil Bredesen would be a mistake. Feel free to email Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, at Rahm_Emanuel@who.eop.gov and let him know your thoughts.


  1. izzy

    February 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Gordon Bonnyman’s efforts with the Tennessee Justice center (tenncare) are all that is giving BREDESEN a good name. Bredesen is a total scam. Hopefully someone important will realize this.

  2. Kay Zwan

    February 13, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Adam, If Phil Bredesen were to beccome the leader of DHHS this would be tragic – Bredesen made millions from running an HMO denying patient access to care and his wife is on the board of First Health the PBM that received a no-bid contract for Tenncare it is an absolute conflict of interest to have someone running National DHHS that is only commited to exploiting the public systems and human beings that struggle with disease. kay

  3. Julie Worley

    February 22, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Our family is committed to raising awareness and bringing about positive change for transparency, accountability and responsibility of Government Officials regarding the urgent need for Nationwide Uniform Standards that ensure Equal Access/Civil Rights of ALL Children in U.S. Schools. ALL children must have access to safe, healthy and supportive learning environments. The state legislatures of 29 states have abolished corporal punishment in schools. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has proposed a school paddling ban tied to education funding, if approved, Ohio will be the 30th state to ban school paddling.

    I am the mother of 3 school-aged children and our family resides in a paddling school district in Middle Tennessee. Two of our children attend middle school where paddling is administered routinely for minor infractions just outside of classrooms in the hallway. In our complacency, we never dreamed that Corporal (Physical) Punishment (Paddling with a wooden board) would be necessary for any of our 3 children at school, as they are intelligent, reasonable and well behaved. One year ago, I received a call from my 13 year old son’s middle school assistant principal informing me that she was about to administer a paddling to him for going outside with his class when he was told to stay in. We were only called at our son’s insistence, as all of our children have been taught from an early age that no one has the right to touch them, they can say no, get away and tell someone in order to protect them from sexual abuse. I informed her that we do not paddle our children and did not want them to. She insisted that he must still be “Punished” and we agreed upon an acceptable form of “Discipline” that did not involve physical punishment. We immediately wrote to Federal, State and Local Government Officals and Elected Representatives only to receive responses that tell us “By LAW, it is the responsibility of our Local School District Board of Education to adopt policies regarding the administration and operation of local schools. We have written to our local school district’s Board Members of several occasions and made a verbal/written presentation at their board meeting on April 14, 2008 during “Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month” to demand they take action to prohibit corporal punishment of children in our county schools and to date, we have received NO RESPONSE.

    Since the beginning of 2009 our 12 year old daughter has told of 2 paddling incidents that took place in the hallway just outside of her classroom and she told us the students names and the number of blows they received as she could overhear them. Teachers verbally threaten students with physical punishment and show them wooden paddles with holes drilled into them that they keep in their desk drawers. How is my child supposed to learn in an atmosphere filled with fear? Our family does not physically punish or hit our children and we do not feel that paddling is effective, it doesn’t make the child turn in missing work, improve grades or teach them appropriate behavior. In fact, the paddled child probably feels humiliated and resentful of the teacher who paddled him. I am very concerned about paddling taking place in schools because it is not regulated in any manner and it’s just plain wrong. We tell our children not to hit. Educators who hit students with weapons (wooden paddles) to deliberately inflict physical pain and suffering intended to punish them powerfully model physical assault/violence to schoolchildren as the acceptable way to solve problems. Schools and teachers who purchase weapons (wooden paddles) with tax payer funds and possess/use them are in direct conflict/violation of Zero Tolerance of Weapons in Schools Policies.

    As members of Tennesseans for Nonviolent School Discipline, we worked on letters to editors of newspapers in paddling school districts in Middle Tennessee to inform citizens of the U.S. Department of Education, Office For Civil Rights paddling statistics as reported by schools in their community and what they can do to protect their children. The reported number of paddling incidents is staggering! Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a report titled “A Violent Education” on 8/20/08 with recommendations to Government Officials to Immediately Abolish Corporal Punishment (Paddling) in U.S. Schools. The report cites U.S. Department of Education, Office For Civil Rights statistics where schools reported disciplining over 223,190 students by hitting, spanking or similar means for such minor infractions as chewing gum or violating school dress codes.

    Tragically, current news headlines regarding investigations taking place in the Chicago Public School System include HUNDREDS of incidents of child abuse reported in schools and a 9 year old boy in Decatur Co., GA suffered deep bruising at Potter Street Elementary School when the ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL PADDLED HIM 3 TIMES IN ONE DAY!

    The cost to eliminate educators right to assault and batter schoolchildren is $0.

    Our family is thankful to educators who refrain from physical punishment of schoolchildren. According to an important new report on physical punishment of children in the U.S., read the full report at http://www.phoenixchildrens.com/discipline, the majority of American adults are opposed to physical punishment by school personnel. The report has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the National Association of Regulatory Boards and others. There is a growing momentum among other countries to enact legal bans on all forms of physical punishment, bolstered by the fact that the practice has come to be regarded as a violation of international human rights law. There is little research evidence that physical punishment improves children’s behavior in the long term. In contrast, there is substantial research evidence that physical punishment puts children at risk for negative outcomes, including increased aggression, antisocial behavior, mental health problems, and physical injury. The clear connections between physical abuse and physical punishment that have been made in empirical research and in the child abuse statutes of several states suggest that reduction in parents’ use of physical punishment should be included as intergral parts of state and federal child abuse prevention efforts. For alternative discipline strategies, please visit http://www.stophitting.org.

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