“I said I thought it was a really stupid idea,” Bredesen, a former governor, said during a recent meeting with members of the editorial boards of the Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press. “ … I think ICE has some problems. I dealt with them more when I was mayor (of Nashville) than I did when I was governor, and it was not a very satisfactory interaction. … I think there have been some issues about them not being tightly enough managed … but we should and are entitled to patrol our borders. There’s no argument over that whatsoever. We need to determine who’s here and have control over it.”
Bredesen, who is in a general election battle with Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, also addressed these questions:
What did you think of President Trump’s Clean Power Plan rollback?
“I have a general predisposition that when you do things like that, like a Clean Power Plan, that you don’t do them through regulations, you do them through legislation. I think (President) Obama went overboard on the regulatory side, probably out of frustration with not getting stuff done in the Congress.”
How do you feel about charter schools?
“I’ve had a big distinction about something which is for profit or nonprofit, probably because I come out of the health care industry where you have a bunch of for profit hospitals. … I’ve been a supporter of charter schools, and we passed legislation when I was governor to make it easier for them to operate in this state. … I do not think they are a silver bullet to all the problems in education. … You look around and there are some wonderful charter schools and there are some pretty terrible ones. I think they have the advantage of providing some competition. They put the public systems are their toes. I think it’s important to remember there are probably 15 counties in the state of Tennessee that have a charter school. … They’ve been a healthy thing in Memphis and In Nashville. … They are part of a palette that a state ought to have. … I’m not so wild about vouchers themselves. I think they are much more problematical.”
What can you do in the U.S. Senate to get Tennessee moving on health care?
“Health care is an area where I actually think of all the issues, I have the most capability (Bredesen used to run a health maintenance organization). … One thing I do want to do … is get the Affordable Care Act stabilized. I was not a supporter of it when it was being proposed. I thought it had some pretty fundamental problems with it … but it’s the law of the land. A lot of people have turned to it. … I don’t think it is the long-term solution, but until we have something better, we ought to make what we have work.”
Have you thought about how Medicare and Medicaid might be reformed?
“In Medicaid, for example, I think one thing that would reduce cost and dramatically improve the quality of care is just completely revamping the whole dual eligible system. … Those are the elderly people who qualify for Medicare but they are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. The Medicare system is an entirely federal system. Medicaid is run by the states. … With Medicare, I think there are some straightforward ways to start beginning to deal with the cost in that program and not ration care.”
Are you going to remind East Tennesseans of some of the things you did, like approving the Pharmacy School for East Tennessee State University?
“I want to remind people of things I did … but I don’t want this to be a backward looking campaign. … I want to keep the focus forward.”