Senator Lamar Alexander held up a form that when released extended to about six feet in front of members of the Shelby County Republican Party at a breakfast this morning at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.
“This is what I can do if we have a Republican majority in Washington,” he continued. He then pulled out a small card with two questions on it. “This is the financial aid request form that you fill out if you want to go to college,” he said of the six footer. “It takes about three hours for a parent or grandparent to fill out and is about 180 questions. “It’s unnecessary. You really only need to answer two things: the size of your family and your income.”
Alexander explained that he is on the education committee “and I want to do this (downsizing).” He explained that many potential students are unable to fill out such a lengthy form and “we lose them.” It cuts down on applicants significantly, he said, and we lose future job holders, engineers and others who then fail to find a career just by such a small issue. A simpler way could result in many more success stories.
Now, with Harry Reid in charge of the Senate, it’s not possible. “We need a new Republican majority in the Senate and a new direction. Then we need to show the American people that it does matter who governs and that the Republican message means something to you.”
Alexander said that Governor Haslam is illustrating that message to Tennesseans. He praised the Drive to 55 campaign that provides two years of community college free to residents. “It shows how our philosophy might help you. Look at what he has done for our community. The state program is working.”
The senator also discussed his hearing yesterday on hospital preparedness for the ebola outbreak. “They say they are prepared here. What we’re not prepared for is an epidemic in Africa. It’s also a national security issue,” he said, “as important a threat as the rise of the Islamic state is in the Middle East.”
Alexander also praised “the terrific win in Shelby County in the August election. You did it by reaching out to others – independents and Democrats – and I’m proud of that.”
State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who had introduced Alexander, returned the compliment. “He is the one person in Washington who understands the relationship between the states and the federal government. Most in Washington see the states as unimportant. Alexander understands they are an integral part of government.”
“I wake up every day thinking I have a chance to make this country better,” Alexander said. “I’m not successful every day, but it is what I want to do.”