2021 look-ahead: the guard has changed, but our principles remain the same

January 29, 2021

Out in Washington we may have paused to open the book on a new Congress, but the families, small business owners, and educators who call Tennessee home haven’t missed a beat. Life, as they say, has gone on, even in the face of a “new normal” that long ago wore out its welcome.  


That’s not to say they’ve checked out of the news breaking in D.C. In conversations with Tennesseans, the question I field most often is, “what’s next?” What’s next for the economy? What’s next for our local school district? And for that matter, when can we expect action?


They have good reason to press me on those questions because here in the Volunteer State, we already know what works. Our businesses, workers, and innovators spent decades laying the foundation for a healthy economy that regularly tempts industry heavy hitters, health care innovators, and tech geniuses away from their coastal enclaves. Today, our work to maintain that balance of economic freedom and responsible governance is made easier by the hard-won victory against the state income tax and continued unraveling of destructive regulatory red tape; but still, we remain on the lookout for legislative trickery and executive mandates that always do more harm than good.


Which brings us back to Washington. The power dynamic in our nation’s capital may have shifted, but fortunately, the responsible, conservative principles that made Tennessee’s economy one of the strongest in the nation haven’t changed a bit.


Over the years, we’ve watched presidents, agency officials, and brash politicians work outside the Constitutional order to shove through new laws that were both destructive, and unquestionably partisan. Those who rely on this “pen and phone” approach to lawmaking claim it’s the only way to get anything done in Washington these days, but in reality, their actions reveal a dangerous desire to circumvent Congress, nullify the rule of law, and normalize reactionary mandates. 


During his first few minutes in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden gave the green light to 17 Executive Orders and directives—more than any previous president, and additional rubber stamping quickly followed. But even before President Biden took the oath, an examination of several of his cabinet nominees revealed a common desire to seize as much oversight over the daily lives of the American people as they could, as quickly as possible. This compulsion ignores what Tennesseans know to be true: that freedom, not total regulation, is an essential ingredient for growth, opportunity, and success. It’s a rule of thumb that has endured since 1787, through wars, depressions, and times of great unrest.


When you ask me what’s next, I see an uphill battle, but one grounded in the principles of the Constitution, and not the politics of the moment. I’m grateful that Senator Bill Hagerty has joined me on Capitol Hill and that he is just as committed as I am to making fiscal responsibility the rule and not the exception, and shining a spotlight on attempts to wrap small businesses, health care providers, farmers, ranchers, and local governments in federal red tape.


As the senior Senator from the Volunteer State, it’s my duty to act in the best interests of all Tennesseans. That means supporting policies that encourage innovation, growth, and discovery; vocally opposing policies that threaten freedom and progress; and above all, prioritizing the security and success of Tennesseans and the American people.