Palazzo named to House Appropriations Committee

While the special election to fill the 1st Congressional District is still taking shape, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo has been appointed to replace the late Alan Nunnelee on the House Appropriations Committee (HAC).

Former Sen. Trent Lott said that Mississippi has been represented on the Appropriations committee since the 1930s and that losing that position would have been a big loss to the Gulf Coast and the state. “I was just depressed that we’d lost that slot,” Lott said. “So with Palazzo going on, that’s really important — important for the district but also important for him. For those federal installations we have down there on the Coast this is really big.”

Since this powerful committee writes the bills that determine where and how tax dollars are spent, the state benefits from the representation. Senator Thad Cochran chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee where he has established a strong history of bringing federal dollars into the state. Since Mississippi is dependent upon federal aid and routinely topping the list of state budgets supported with federal dollars (42.9% of the 2013 budget was provided by the federal government), having representation on the Appropriations committees of both the House and Senate is vital.

Rep. Palazzo should benefit politically because this position greatly expands his influence beyond that of his roles on the Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Space and Technology Committees, some of which he’ll have to relinquish. With Tea Party favorite and state Sen. Chris McDaniel expressing interest in the 4th Congressional District seat, Palazzo’s new-found status should provide give him an edge in future elections.

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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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NYT: In Mississippi, It’s G.O.P. vs. Tea Party

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times filed a look at Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel with the article “In Mississippi, It’s G.O.P. vs. Tea Party.”

. . . Mississippi’s power structure is in a bit of a panic. The economically poor state has been rich with powerful politicians in Washington, who have unapologetically protected its military bases and shipyards, built its roads and universities, reconstructed its beachfronts, and dredged its rivers. The state has had only a handful of senators since 1947, including Mr. Cochran, a powerful member of the Appropriations Committee; Trent Lott, a Senate majority leader; and John C. Stennis, whose 41 years of service was marked by military advocacy and the creation of the modern Navy. . .

. . . Policy details are as foreign to Mr. McDaniel as they are natural to Mr. Cochran. Henry Barbour’s super PAC is filling the airwaves with comments Mr. McDaniel made to Politico that questioned whether he would have voted for the emergency relief that Mr. Cochran helped secure for the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Mr. McDaniel now says he supports disaster relief and does not see the need to offset it with other spending cuts. And he has opted not to challenge Mr. Cochran’s military largess. . .

The Fiscal Times: Meet Thad Cochran, An Endangered Senate Republican

Via Senator Thad Cochran is “one of the most endangered Senate Republicans up for reelection this year”

The Fiscal Times paints the stark contrast between the establishment Republican, Sen. Thad Cochran, and the Tea Party challenger, Chris McDaniel.  The following are pulled from The Fiscal Times:

There was a time when lawmakers boasted to their constituents about bringing home the bacon. . . Those times have changed, and now longtime pork-barrel specialists are more apt to have to apologize to their constituents for winning costly projects for their states than take a bow. . . The latest case in point is Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi — a powerful figure on the Senate Appropriations Committee who over the decades brought literally billions of dollars of largess to his home state.

Cochran’s opponent in a June 3 primary showdown, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, hopes to follow the lead of freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and go to Washington to rattle the china in Congress.

Leaving nothing to chance, Cochran has lined up endorsements from some of the biggest names in Mississippi politics — including former Gov. Haley Barbour and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

McDaniel has made federal spending the centerpiece of his campaign. Last October, in announcing he was challenging Cochran, he declared that the “era of big spending is over.”  In that regard, he is trying to exploit a growing fissure within the GOP between the far right’s antipathy to spending and special interest projects and the more traditional go-along-to-get-along ethos of Cochran and other more traditional congressional appropriators.

Analysts agree it will be a hard-fought primary; but more recently, some have said the race is tilting in Cochran’s favor.  The reason for that? “Mainly because Mississippi voters, even the ones who participate in a GOP primary, understand the value of Cochran’s seniority to a small poor state,” said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist who is tracking the race. “And Cochran’s voting record is mainly quite conservative.”

The Cochran-McDaniel campaign is shaping up to be the old guard vs. the new guard.  The Tea Party’s challenge to establishment Republicans is alive and well in Mississippi.  In the end, this election will be about whether voters put country or self-interest first.

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