EDITORIAL/Honk! Honk! The car tag Senator
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 1:00 PM
Chris McDaniel is campaigning on the promise he will eliminate wasteful federal spending and save our Republic, but his six years at the state Capitol suggest he's known less for fiscal responsibility than for hometown resolutions, commendations and car tag bills.
Mr. McDaniel's rousing stump speeches about reducing the size of government, balancing the budget and repealing Obamacare sound very, very appealing, but his legislative record is about as hollow as a plastic straw when it comes to fiscal responsibility. There's not a single bill he authored aimed at cutting waste.
What has to be among his most embarrassing failures was his repeated inability to get specialty license plates approved.
While McDaniel tells supporters he is confident he will be able to overturn Obamacare and balance the federal budget, he was unable to get specialized car tags for amateur boxing and mixed martial arts supporters in 2009. (No offense to amateur boxing and mixed martial arts supporters.)
In 2010, Mr. McDaniel was unsuccessful in getting supporters of Jones County high schools their own car tags. In 2011, it was the Animal Rescue League of Laurel, the Laurel School District, Ronald Reagan and "Don't Tread on Me."
Only 36 of the 237 bills he was the principal author of during his career were passed, with many of those the resolutions and commendations. Chris McDaniel wants to be called up to the major leagues, but has a less than stellar performance in the minors. And less than stellar is a generous observation.
Mr. McDaniel first took office in 2008 as one of 52 senators and has served in that position for six years. He is one of 32 Republicans, an overwhelming majority.
Yet, for six years, he has done very little for Mississippi to show he is qualified to represent the state in D.C.
Mr. McDaniel can't navigate the conservative legislative waters of the Mississippi capitol, but he's man enough to fight the devil in Washington?
Several of these bills in Jackson were submitted year after year, too, before a couple eventually passed. That's only 15 percent of his bills actually passing a conservative Legislature.
Eliminate the resolutions for Jones County athletics and marching bands and that percentage drops to 11 percent.
If this were the minor leagues, he would be asking to go pro while only batting .111, hardly anything worth bragging about.
Let's look a little deeper into his state senate career:
In 2008, one of his six bills he authored passed, one commending Laurel High School on a football championship.
In 2009, seven of his 26 bills passed. These were commendations for a Laurel resident, a high school band, and a church centennial. His three other bills dealt with legal definitions regarding inheritance, provisions of the Mississippi Auctioneers License Act, and an interstate compact for military children's educational opportunities.
In 2010, one of his 22 bills passed. This was giving the Mississippi Athletic Commission the ability to fine people.
One of the bills he authored would allow jurors to receive supplemental pay from parties to a civil suit. (Remember, Mr. McDaniel is a plaintiffs lawyer and has been involved with cases where they argued for more damage awards than allowed under Mississippi's 2004 tort reform.)
His bill to get terrorism - of all things - added as an aggravating circumstance for capital offenses died in committee. His bill to increase the maximum sentence of manslaughter also failed.
In 2011, six of his 28 bills were passed. This was the year he tried again for manslaughter and terrorism and failed again.
His big claim to fame this year was Nathan's Law, which increased the penalty for unlawful passing of a school bus. It's worth noting this effort died in 2009. Then there were some soccer championships that needed commending.
In 2012, 12 of his 61 bills were passed. Terrorism and manslaughter were still a no-go, but you can't blame him for trying.
He was able to limit the number of exceptions to specific medical conditions for window tint, though, a real barn burner during the session that year.
And we can't forget his glowing recognition of Laurel native Trey Crawford for being chairman of the Board of Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association. Go Trey!
With so much going on - the state being last and all - it's a wonder he had time to get to all of these commendations among major economic development initiatives.
In 2013, nine of his 56 bills were passed. He finally got somewhere with his terrorism bill and was able to increase the per diem pay for election commissioners on election day. (Is that a growth in government?)
There were a host of other bills, some that made sense and others that didn't, and none of them got anywhere, just like he won't in Washington.
That brings us to this past legislative session, where McDaniel was an astounding 0 for 38. Several of his favorite bills from the past six years were recycled and wound up back in the committee graveyard.
Back to car tags for a minute, though, because this is where his legislative authorship proved to shine the brightest.
In 2011, he tried to get a tax-free tag for World War II veterans. And he failed at that. (Wouldn't such a tax break violate the purity pledge his tea party supporters demand?)
In 2012, it was the Mississippi Emergency Medical Technicians Association. In 2013, it was the Nathan's Legacy Foundation.
Chris McDaniel's campaign has been a series of hypocrisies and delusions, so his weak legislative record is no surprise.
Point us to where he succeeded once at reforming state government. Where is Chris McDaniel when the state retirement system is practically insolvent?
Look closer at some of the bills he co-authored and you will see a longer list of resolutions, commendations and a plethora of failed initiatives.
While his supporters gladly claim the mantle as poster children for fiscal conservatism and anti-government spending, the city of Laurel just received $400,000 in federal grants to "assess" former industrial sites.
The city of Petal received $250,000 for a dyslexia school. This is another McDaniel haven. His supporters are against earmarks and government spending - about five percent of the entire federal budget anyway - until it applies to their communities.
Hypocrites! Hypocrites! Hypocrites!
Every bit of discretionary spending like the tea party is criticizing could be eliminated along with the Defense Department and it would barely put a dent in the U.S. budget deficit.
The nursing home and courthouse incidents are just plain odd.
Sen. Thad Cochran has a proven record and the experience to lead spending reform with Republican control of Congress.
If Mr. McDaniel could have succeeded, his best work might have been seen on the back of an automobile being driven down an interstate highway, as compared to the $380 million Madison County has received from Congress for roads since 1994, thanks to Mr. Cochran's leadership.
The $800 million of federal funding for K-12 annually in Mississippi is a fourth of total funding for education and nearly 100 percent of all special education dollars. (Mr. McDaniel claims the state can do without those monies and make up the difference, perhaps through fines levied by the Mississippi Athletic Commission.)
The $17 trillion national debt will sink our Republic if unaddressed, but to project anger and frustration onto any good conservative in Congress like Mr. Cochran is misguided.
Big-government liberals who want to spend the United States into extinction are the enemy, not fellow conservatives.
Chris McDaniel is campaigning on the promise he will eliminate wasteful federal spending and save our Republic, but his six years at the state Capitol suggest otherwise.
On Tuesday, June 24, vote Thad Cochran for United States Senate.