Mississippi’s love/hate relationship with “free” money

E.J. Dionne, writing for the Washington Post, identifies Mississippi’s personality disorder with respect to federal funding.  As a “conservative” state, Mississippi rejects federal waste, unbalanced budgets, and pork.  At the same time, the state benefits from, if not relies upon, federal money.

The U.S. Senate primary race between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel is forcing the issue.  Cochran has made a name for himself as a master appropriator and is in line to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee should the Republican Party take the Senate in November.  McDaniel has fashioned himself a warrior against federal debt, excessive spending, and pork and has won the support of a host of Tea Party groups advocating the same.

According to Mississippi State’s Marty Wiseman, “Our anti-Washington politics has been to make sure that we got as much of it here as we could.  You’ve got the tea party excited that they’ve corralled a big spender, but he was bringing it back to Mississippi. That’s the paradox of all paradoxes.”

Democrat Party Chairman Ricky Cole is quoted, “If Mississippi did what the tea party claims they want . . . we would become a Third World country, quickly.  We depend on the federal government to help us build our highways. We depend on the federal government to fund our hospitals, our health-care system. We depend on the federal government to help us educate our students on every level.”

Dionne identifies the apparent victor in this battle:  “Yes, Childers could run as a Thad Cochran Democrat — except he wouldn’t be saddled with the need to appease an ideology that has to pretend federal spending doesn’t benefit anybody, least of all the people of Mississippi.”

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Tea Party candidates winning

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised to “crush them everywhere” but Tea Party candidates are still winning elections.  Despite the establishment GOP’s recent claims of  victory over the Tea Party, both West Virginia and Nebraska elected Tea Party candidates on Tuesday. 

Breitbart reports that the focus will now turn to Mississippi’s June 3rd primary where Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel is in a dead heat with 36-year incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. 

McDaniel has used Cochran’s long tenure in the U.S. Senate to draw contrasts with his opponent.  In the Sun Herald, McDaniel says he does not want to represent Mississippi simply to get along but to fix Washington, DC.  And that can only happen with new leadership that knows they work for the people and then fights to create a more responsive government.

And McDaniel vows to fight.  He says he will fight Obamacare, the federal debt, party politics and the political aristocracy, and the national dependence on federal spending. 

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Who is responsible for C-130s moving from Keesler AFB?

The Air Force’s decision to move C-130 transport aircraft from Keeler Air Force Base has become a political football in Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District.

In recent WLOX interviews, Former Rep. Gene Taylor blames incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo’s reckless voting for defense budget cuts and Palazzo blames Taylor for the trillions of dollars in national debt racked-up during his tenure as 4th District Congressman.  Another candidate, Tom Carter, said that he’ll just make a phone call to his former colleague, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee, to keep the planes there.

In 2011, national debt was labeled as the biggest threat to national security by then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ADM Mike Mullen.  Not surprisingly, DoD’s share of the U.S. budget is shrinking and the Air Force is likely making economic trade-offs:

US Spedning (1970 to 2040)

For his part, Palazzo has challenged the Air Force’s math.  And so has every other elected official that represents areas that could be impacted by proposed realignments.  If keeping C-130’s at Keesler AFB is the best decision strategically and financially, they should stay.  In an election year, what are the chances that politics don’t trump national security?

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4th District Republican Candidate Tom Carter Interviewed on Gulf Coast Mornings

While Steven Palazzo and Gene Taylor are capturing the most media attention, Tom Carter is also in the race to represent the Republican Party in Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District.  The lifelong Mississippian was interviewed on NewsRadio 104.9 FM Gulf Coast Mornings.

Identifying himself as a businessman who has never run for public office (nor voted for nor with Rep. Nancy Pelosi), Carter discussed the need to reduce burdens on businesses to strengthen the economy.  The interview also included Obamacare, the national debt, career politicians, and the defense presence on the Gulf Coast.

Hear the entire interview from the NewRadio 104.9FM website.

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The Daily Journal summarizes state’s 2014 legislative session

Bobby Harrison of the Daily Journal runs down the significant events of the 2014 legislative session with a two-part series:

  1. Teacher pay, justice reform biggest achievements
  2. School districts still in budget hole

In his first story, Harrison provides a recap of the following issues that the legislature tackled during the session:

  • Teacher Pay:  Initially promoted by Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton), the bill provides $2,500 pay raise over 2 years.  The senate finalized the language which, under Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ leadership cut out performance requirements.
  • Criminal Justice Reform:  Sweeping reforms resulting from recommendations of judges, prosecutors, district attorneys, law enforcement and local officials.  Estimated to save $266 Million over 10-years.
  • Special Needs Payments:  Promoted by Sen. Nancy Collins (R-Tupelo), the proposal failed largely due to objections over giving “education vouchers.”
  • Religious Freedom:  Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed even after firestorm in Arizona.  Legislation changed to prevent the government from being able to force someone to take action against their religious beliefs.
  • Bonds:  $199.9 Million in new bonds were approved for Cooper Tire in Tupelo, a Tammy Wynette Museum in Tremont, the William Faulkner/Union Heritage Museum in New Albany, and renovations to Okolona College.
  • Texting:  After looking like ban on texting while driving would pass, Rep. Bill Denny (R-Jackson) entered a motion to reconsider which effectively killed the bill since efforts to table the motion were defeated.
  • Medicaid Expansion:  Republican leadership continues to oppose medicare expansion.  Both the House and the Senate rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid as is allowed under Obamacare (to cover those earning 138% of the federal poverty level).
  • Judges, Law Enforcement:  Added 16 assistant district attorneys, 50 new Highway Patrol troopers, added funds for the state Crime Lab.

The second story focuses on the budget.  According to Harrison, the $2.4 Billion public education budget was an increase of $85 Million over the previous year.  The current education budget is $255 Million short of the funding formula based on the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).

In all, the 2014 $6 Billion general fund budget was an increase of about $200 Million over 2013.

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Don’t tell the GOP establishment: Mississippi is a “welfare state”

Based on a WalletHub study, Mississippi is the state most dependent upon federal funding and brings in $3.07 of federal funds for every $1 in taxes sent to Washington, DC.  Per the Tax Foundation, federal funding accounts for 45.8% of Mississippi’s revenue.

Although Mississippi is considered a “Red State,” or politically conservative, it ranks among the highest in federal dollars received per tax dollar paid.  With a political ideology that decries government hand-outs, Mississippi is “having its cake and eating it too.”

Influential leadership in Congress over the last 60 years has contributed to Mississippi’s current fiscal situation.  Sen. John C. Stennis (D) chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1969-1981 and the Senate Appropriations Committee from 1987-1989.  Former Sen. Trent Lott, even though a Republican, continued that legacy started by Stennis and rose to Senate Majority Leader before his resignation in 2007.  Likewise, Sen. Thad Cochran (R) has also done much to bring federal funds into the state and, if re-elected to a 7th term, is in line to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

The WalletHub study didn’t include just welfare payments but also included federal contracts and federal employees’ salaries.  With the benefit of over a half-century of federal dollars and jobs pouring into the state, Mississippi still ranks near the bottom in several performance measures.

According to Politico and Cottonmouth, state Sen. Chris McDaniel has even identified Mississippi as a “welfare state.”  With endless campaign ads currently touting Cochran’s ability to bring federal funds to the state, Sen. Cochran tweeted this:

Wow.  Did Cochran just undermine his entire record?  Ever wonder why our country is $17 Trillion in debt?

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McDaniel on the Glenn Beck Radio Program

On March 25th, state Sen. Chris McDaniel appeared on the Glenn Beck Radio program.  The audio of the interview is below followed by a summary of the interview.  A transcript of much of the interview is provided here.

According to McDaniel, Cochran voted for:

  1. Bail-outs for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  2. Increase debt ceiling 11 times for $7.2 Trillion
  3. Higher Income and gas taxes as well as George H.W. Bush’s famous tax increase
  4. Tax-payer funded abortions

Debt Ceiling:  Beck pushed McDaniel on raising the debt ceiling and the troublesome politics that come with not voting against it.  McDaniel replied by saying that the Republican party has stopped standing with courage and principle.  To oppose such things he would stand with Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz.

Eminent Domain:  Beck asked about the fight against eminent domain in the state.  Driven by his support of private property rights, McDaniel fought on the floor of the senate to change the law to protect property owners.  Gov. Haley Barbour was not in favor of reforming the law and vetoed legislation that would reform eminent domain to protect property owners.  Because of principle, McDaniel continued to fight in the Senate but failed to override the Barbour’s veto.  However, shortly thereafter, the state constitution was amended to protect private property rights and so private property rights won the day.

Other issues discussed:

  • Common Core:  Objections to Common Core are based on there not being a constitutional basis for the federal government to be involved in education which is violated by tying federal funding to it.
  • Immigration:  No to amnesty, close the borders, enforce the law.
  • Obamacare:  McDaniel was the state’s lead attorney in the lawsuit against Obamacare and performed pro bono.  He doesn’t want to make it better, he wants to repeal it.
  • 2nd Amendment:  Keeping and bearing arms is an individual right that McDaniel supports.

When asked about how he will fight the Republican establishment that will expect him to compromise his principles to obtain positions of power, McDaniel responded that his “allegiance is to the constitution and the people.”

Beck asked about the status of his soul and McDaniel immediately replied that he is “saved by the grace of God.”