Lots has been said about the June 3 election for the Republican nomination for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate race, and there’s more to come. Unfortunately, one candidate’s claims have gone largely unchallenged.
Tea Party extremist Chris McDaniel is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran and is irresponsibly misleading voters by trying to paint Cochran as a big spender.
Relying on canned talking points from his D.C.-based backers, McDaniel tries to blame the national debt on Cochran’s success in fighting for Mississippi in Washington. Someone needs to tell McDaniel that erasing everything Cochran’s done for Mississippi wouldn’t reduce the debt one cent. Every dollar Cochran has brought to Mississippi would have been spent elsewhere.
McDaniel, who is a trial lawyer, is trying to stoke the fires of voter disenchantment by throwing around “constitution,” “liberty,” and “courage.” This does not qualify him to be a U.S. senator.
Mississippians should reject his empty rhetoric.
McDaniel won’t tell you that our debt is being driven by entitlement programs, not annual discretionary programs. The Appropriations Committee, where Cochran is the most senior Republican, only has control over the latter.
Discretionary spending is considered by the Appropriations Committee every year and provides support for priorities like our military, veterans, and research.
Appropriations does not have jurisdiction over mandatory spending for entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, which were put on autopilot by laws passed in 1939 and 1965. The only way to truly rein in federal spending without raising taxes is to reform these programs.
Discretionary appropriations, where Cochran plays a key role, have remained relatively constant for the past 50 years, and that spending has been significantly reduced in recent years, thanks in large part to his leadership.
Chris McDaniel won’t tell you that.
The Appropriations Committee has no control over how big the annual federal spending pie is. Overall pie size is set by separate legislation written by a different committee. Appropriations only controls how the pie is sliced and served.
Once the pie size is locked in for the year, Cochran always muscles up for bigger slices for Mississippi. It’s practical and possible to fight for both smaller pies and bigger slices.
If the government is going to build a ship, Cochran says build it in Pascagoula. If the government is going to research how to increase agricultural yields, research it at MSU. If it’s going to be done anyway, don’t surrender it to California or New York or Chicago.
McDaniel spoke at MSU recently, declaring to a sparse crowd that he wants to be like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee. Asked to name one specific instance when either of those politicians was successful in reducing spending or helping his home state, McDaniel was stumped.
The correct answer to both of those questions is, “There is none.”
What McDaniel really seems to want is fame. He says whatever he thinks gets him on TV.
Cochran simply goes to work every day to fight for Mississippi, no fanfare.
I recommend McDaniel actually show up for his current job and learn to be an effective state legislator. Leave the complex, serious problems of our time to someone who understands the responsibility of representing all Mississippians: Thad Cochran.
David Clarke is a graduate student in accounting at Mississippi State University. He is from Greenville, and served a student internship in Sen. Cochran’s Washington office. Contact him at P.O. Box 4036, Mississippi State, MS 39762