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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Runoff election preview

June 24th is the date for Mississippi’s runoff election.  Everyone in Mississippi can vote in the runoff except those that voted in the Democrat primary on June 3rd.

Thomas Carey, the third candidate who pulled enough votes in the Primary Election to force a runoff, became the most famous unknown in Mississippi politics by forcing the mud-slinging into another 3 grueling weeks.

Sam R. Hall predicts that the runoff will go to McDaniel since he has all the energy and Cochran has no momentum.  Dean Clancy at U.S. News & World Report thinks the Tea Party Will Win One in Mississippi this primary season and provides this analysis:

Cochran’s long record of voting for things that conservatives hate, like tax hikes, Medicare expansion and the Department of Education, puts his conservative bona fides in doubt in an era when the very definition of “conservative” — or rather, of “acceptable conservative incumbent voting behavior” — is changing. Republicans have always claimed to be for individual liberty, fiscal common sense and constitutionally limited government, but the five-year-old tea party movement has tried to get GOP incumbents to actually vote that way.

To progressives, Cochran and McDaniel must look like just another pair of right-wing white Southern Christian peas in a pod, voicing the same conservative boilerplate on almost every current issue. But to those who are actually engaged in the fight, the difference boils down to the willingness to fight, to draw and hold lines in the sand. And there Cochran has nothing to offer. He has never been a fighter and won’t ever be. But McDaniel might.

Behind that divide is a still deeper one, and that is between the pro-business and pro-market wings of the GOP. As the Washington Examiner’s astute Tim Carney nicely summarizes, in Mississippi you find, “Rich libertarian investors on McDaniel’s side. Rich Republican lobbyists on Cochran’s side. People who want smaller government because they believe it’s best versus people who want flexible Republicans elected — either because it profits them, or because they’re just loyal to the GOP.” He adds, “This has been the split in the GOP since the bailouts: K Street versus the Tea Party.”

Exactly. The “tea party versus establishment” fight pits pro-business Republicans against pro-market Republicans for control of the future of the party. Will the GOP fight for smaller, constitutionally limited government, or keep going along with ever-growing, never-limited government?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air doesn’t worry about any latent impact on the General Election in November since both McDaniel and Cochran drew 4 times as many votes each compared to all Democrat votes cast in their primary.  McDaniel established his statewide credibility and may even cause some Cochran voters who questioned McDaniel’s gravitas to switch their vote.

The bigger question is how much more cash will flow into the election that has already seen record amounts. FreedomWorks was quick to express their continued support for McDaniel:

Drew Johnson opines in The Washington Times that the NRSC is Wasting Republican capital on Cochran in Mississippi by putting more money in the race.  He writes, “Unfortunately, the NRSC doesn’t see it that way. That’s because the organization is more interested in protecting GOP incumbents — even terrible ones — than working to elect the best Republican candidates.”  He continues:

Even if [Republicans could lose the Senate race in Mississippi], and Democrats picked up the seat held by Thad Cochran, it might be a better outcome for the GOP than keeping the disappointing Mr. Cochran in office. The NRSC fails to understand that a bad Republican can actually be worse for the party — and for America — than a Democrat. When someone like Mr. Cochran votes for tax increases, hikes spending and combats efforts to limit government, they both function as an additional Democratic vote in Congress anyway and damage voters’ perceptions of the Republican brand. As a result, they cost the GOP both policy victories and elections.

For the myriad of state officials that endorsed Sen. Cochran, this is a worst-case scenario.  Is it time to mend fences or expend more political capital?  One thing is for certain:  Except for political junkies, no one expected, let alone wanted, a runoff in this race!

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Post updated June 8th, 2014

Jackpot Justice: Mississippi Before Tort Reform

News Mississippi commemorates the state’s 10th anniversary after passing tort reform in Looking Back at Mississippi Before Tort Reform.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that prior to tort reform, doctors were seeing 25% annual increases in malpractice insurance.  Jones County had more plaintiffs than residents.  And doctors were fleeing the state.  Haley Barbour, who was elected governor in 2003 on a tort-reform platform, stated that Toyota and several Fortune 500 companies would not consider coming to Mississippi under the conditions prior to tort reform.

The 2004 tort reform law did not limit the amount a plaintiff could get for lost wages, medical bills or other quantifiable costs but only limited the subjective elements such as “pain and suffering.”  The state passed a $500,000 cap on these subjective, non-economic damages although business in the state lobbied for a $250,000 cap.

Medical liability insurance in Mississippi has dropped 60% as medical liability suits dropped by more than 90% in one year.  Overall, tort cases have dropped from 10,600 in 2002 to about 3,500 in 2012 according to the Clarion-Ledger.

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Democrat Primary 4th Congressional District Candidate: Matt Moore

This is not Matt Moore’s first campaign to represent Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District.   However, finding any information online about him is a little difficult.  All information about Moore is drawn primarily from what was written about him in 2012.

As a late add due to the withdrawal of Democrat nominee Michael Herrington in 2012, Moore claimed 28.8% of the General Election vote.  Even though he crushed Reform Party Robert W. Claunch (6.3%) and Libertarian Ron Williams (0.7%), he was far behind Rep. Steven Palazzo’s 64.1% of the vote.

Per the Wall Street Journal in 2012, “Moore says he’s running because he wants to provide better constituent service to the 4th District. He says Palazzo is too much of a party-line Republican and has fallen short in representing a wide range of opinions in the district.”

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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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