CATEGORY: EDT Editorials
Sen. Thad Cochran’s mood and outlook Friday were decidedly more upbeat than on Dec. 18, the last time he visited Tupelo before his remarks at the weekly meting of the Tupelo Kiwanis Club.
Cochran’s December visit came just three days after the second partial shutdown of the federal government began, a development that both angered and frustrated the Senate’s third-ranking majority leadership member and a key player on the Appropriations Committee.
Friday, minutes before meeting with the Daily Journal’s editorial board, Cochran read an Associated Press article about the House’s passage of a bill to reopen the government for 21 days while negotiations continue during the next three weeks over a seven-year, balanced-budget plan.
Cochran clearly prefers working toward a balanced budget under conditions like those passed Friday. He said, while reading the article in the Daily Journal newsroom, that the foundation had been laid in a meeting Thursday afternoon in Majority Leader Robert Dole’s office. Cochran, a participant along with Speaker Gingrich and others, said the partial shutdown was an unacceptable way to govern and had become a political liability for both the White House and the Republican Congress.
Cochran’s optimism, bordering on outright confidence, about Friday’s developments was matched on the House side by 1st District Rep. Roger Wicker of Tupelo, president of the 73-member Republican freshman class.
Wicker said in an afternoon telephone interview that he believes real progress has been made toward resolving the impasse. He said it remains imperative for President Clinton to put a budget proposal on the table within the terms of the November budget agreement. We agree. It is hard, as Wicker noted, to negotiate without offers and counteroffers.
Cochran and Wicker also appear to be coming from the same direction on settling the issue of Medicare. Wicker said a $168 billion reduction in the rate of increased spending during the next seven years has been put forward by a group of moderate and conservative House Democrats. Wicker said that figure could be the basis for an agreement acceptable to a House majority. Wicker said he could support that proposal.
Cochran said there’s significant movement on Medicare in the Senate, too, where Democrats and Republicans from the center are working toward a possible settlement of the issue in a bill separated from the rest of a balanced budget plan.
Both Mississippians demonstrate the kind of leadership needed to settle on a balanced-budget plan and put the government on a fully-funded footing for the rest of the 1996 fiscal year.
Lurching from one grandstanding event to another, as Cochran expressed it to Kiwanians, “is not my style of politics” or good government. The same can be said of Wicker’s work in the House.
Authentic conservatism improves government, and even diminishes it when necessary. It doesn’t set out to destroy it.