In a recent post I exposed Thad’s Cochran’s horrific fiscal record, a legacy of taxing and spending worthy of any good liberal, but sadly that’s not the only flaw he possesses. His career does not reflect true conservative principles in the areas of national defense, the culture wars, active government, and the environment.
It simply cannot be said that Thad Cochran is supportive of all efforts to maintain a strong national defense and protect our borders. In 1982 he voted for amnesty for illegals, and in 2005 against a small increase in funds for tighter border security. Senator Cochran voted to cut $80 million from the Titan missile program in 1982 and voted against increases in the MX missile system and the new Midgetman missiles that President Reagan wanted as part of his defense buildup.
In 1983, Cochran voted against a Jesse Helms amendment to sanction the Soviets after they shot down a Korean civilian airliner in 1983. In 1989, he voted against aid to the Contras in Nicaragua, even though he supported Central American assistance under Carter in 1980, voted against removing drug pusher Manuel Noriega from Panama, and against sanctioning trade with China after the Tiananmen Square massacre. He also voted for an intermediate-range nuclear forces limitation treaty in 1988, which conservative groups opposed.
But strangely in 2000 he voted in support of President Clinton and against limiting the use of American troops in Kosovo, where the nation had no vital national security interests. And last year he refused to stand with conservatives to block the UN Law of the Sea Treaty, which critics charged would have eroded US sovereignty and effectively turned over the world’s oceans, including the sea floor, to the United Nations.
Nor can his defenders argue that Cochran has been rock solid on the culture front, even on the important issue of abortion. National Right to Life gave him only a score of 75 and called his record on life issues “mixed,” a distinction which they do not consider to be a pro-life voting record. Most of the pork-filled appropriations bills Cochran has supported over the years have included funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider. Three times in the 1980s, as pro-life conservatives fought for the rights of the unborn, he voted against amendments that would have cut the use of federal funds for abortions in the District of Columbia. In 2007 he supported embryonic stem cell research, a process that destroys human embryos.
In 1991, he voted to kill a Jesse Helms amendment that would have denied funds to the National Endowment for the Arts that promote pornography or any explicit sexual activities. He also failed to support his fellow Mississippi Senator, Trent Lott, in 1992 when he attempted to freeze funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an outfit that runs the outrageously liberal PBS. In 1980, 1987, and 1991, Cochran voted against efforts to cut funding to the Legal Services Corporation, a congressionally created private, non-profit organization that provides free legal representation to the poor that has been in the crosshairs of conservatives for decades.
Despite cries that he is a conservative, Senator Cochran has been a kind friend to the cause of active and energetic government, the very thing Thomas Jefferson warned us was “always oppressive.” Aside from his support for the Energy Mobilization Board and wage and price controls, he voted for the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law intended to aid those with disabilities but instead has been a burden for business. In the long run, the bill has actually made it more difficult for the disabled to find jobs because the conditions placed upon employers made it more likely that they would not hire someone with a handicap. This is a perfect example of a well-intentioned law producing the opposite of its intended effect.
In 1991 he voted for the Civil Rights Bill that conservatives charged would establish minority quotas and set-asides. He supported John McCain’s campaign finance efforts in 2001 and 2003, which critics called the “Incumbent Protection Act” because it limited the amount of money citizens could give to federal candidates and prohibited participation in the political process within 60 days of an election, a clear violation of the First Amendment that the US Supreme Court later struck down as unconstitutional. In a related issue, he voted against an effort to cut the franking privilege, a program of tax dollar financed postage that all members of Congress use (and abuse) come election time. In 2012 he voted against a constitutional amendment to institute congressional term limits.
Senator Cochran has also been in line with the liberals on many of their environmental crusades in recent years. In 1985 and 1986 he voted billions of dollars into the Superfund, a federal fund to clean up toxic waste sites, which one conservative think tank said was itself “a hazardous waste.” In 1990 he voted for the industry-busting Clean Air Act. In 2012 he supported increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund that allows the federal government to acquire more land, as if they don’t have enough already.
Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Thad Cochran’s legacy reflects a career politician who believes the Senate seat he holds actually belongs to him and not the people of Mississippi. His votes to expand government, to raise his own pay, against limiting congressional terms, and for restricting our rights to participate in the political process is more than eye opening; it’s revolting. It should be painfully obvious to most Mississippians that he is beholden to special interests and not to the people. It’s long past time for change.
Laurel Leader Call, Tuesday, November 12, 2013