With the US Senate race in full swing throughout the state of Mississippi, new charges have emerged from supporters of Thad Cochran in a pathetic and desperate attempt to paint Chris McDaniel as an untrustworthy politician in regards to his fiscal record as a member of the state senate and to attack his “misguided criticism of Cochran’s service to Mississippi,” in the recent words of Mr. Brian Perry in the Leader Call. Mr. Geoff Pender of the Clarion Ledger has also made similar arguments to attempt to discredit Senator McDaniel’s record of fiscal conservatism.
To begin with, Mr. Perry and Mr. Pender engaged in a classic political trick: cherry-picking votes. They took one vote Senator McDaniel made in 2009 in favor of an $282 million omnibus spending bill to make their case that he is not as fiscally conservative as he claims and that he is, in essence, no different than his opponent, Thad Cochran. Their inference is that Senator McDaniel is a fiscal hypocrite willing to support pork and wasteful spending when it suits him, while attacking Cochran for doing likewise. Yet it is nothing more than political blather suited for the ash heap.
The bill in question contained very important appropriations for infrastructure, badly needed items such as the construction and repair of roads and bridges. The state of America’s bridges came under strict scrutiny after the fatal Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007, a tragedy that took the lives of 13 people. Mississippi’s bridges were found to be in awful shape and the legislature took action. The vast majority of this spending bill contained funds to repair and replace substandard bridges. It was an extremely important public safety bill as it was anything else.
But, as they always do, the liberals in the legislature were able to cobble together spending items of questionable necessity, rolling it all together in one massive bill. Senator McDaniel did not like the overall bill but felt it his duty to look out after the safety of Mississippi’s drivers. That was the one and only time he cast a vote for a bond bill. He has since opposed “logrolling” efforts by the big spenders in Jackson to hide ridiculous and unnecessary appropriations in important bills.
But let us look at another issue: constitutionality. In our federalist system, sometimes called “dual sovereignty,” powers are divided between the federal government and the individual states. The powers delegated to the Congress are found in Article 1, Section 8. The authority to appropriate money for museums, hair-brained research schemes, or give out to fat cat friends at banks and big corporations is nowhere to be found, something Thad Cochran has yet to understand in 40 years in Congress, nor do his supporters apparently. All other powers are reserved to the states, so it’s not uncommon for legislatures to spend more money on internal projects, for they have more powers.
To be sure, Chris McDaniel does understand the US Constitution, the limited powers it contains, and the nature of our Union. He fully comprehends, as James Madison warned us more than 200 years ago, that Congress cannot be allowed to continue stretching the meaning and understanding of the Constitution, namely the general welfare clause. For this is why we find our nation in such fiscal peril.
“If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare,” wrote Madison, “and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress…. Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.”
Is this not the situation we find ourselves in? Does not Washington think itself the master of our affairs? Has not Senator Thad Cochran been as guilty as anyone else in this vast federal accumulation of power? The answers are obvious.
To call Chris McDaniel a fiscal conservative is to state more than the obvious. In his career since he first entered the state senate in 2008 no one in the entire legislature, both house and senate, has cast more votes against bond bills than Senator McDaniel. On more than a few occasions, he has been the sole voice of opposition to continued deficit spending and debt accumulation. If Barry Goldwater was Mr. Conservative, then Chris McDaniel should forever be known as Mr. Fiscal Conservative. No other public official in Mississippi, and very few across the country, has a record to match his.
Can Thad Cochran, or his defenders, make the same claim? No. In fact it’s just the opposite. Senator Thad Cochran has never found a single spending bill that he did not love and embrace. Earlier this year, Senator Cochran could not even bring himself to support a conservative effort to slash federal spending by one-half of one-percent. He has consistently supported earmarked-laden bills and has himself earmarked funds for dubious, unconstitutional, and fiscally unsound projects. And he has never supported conservative attempts to ban the practice.
Here is a simple truth Cochran’s defenders, like Perry and Pender, cannot answer: If Thad Cochran won’t end the simple practice of earmarking, how can he be trusted to reform out-of-control entitlements or scale back runaway Washington spending before we plunge into national bankruptcy? The fact is he can’t be trusted. His 40-year record has shown us what he really believes, that Washington is a cash cow for him and his friends. But Chris McDaniel can be trusted to stop the fiscal rampage and has a record to prove it.
Laurel Leader Call, Tuesday, December 10, 2013