Archive for January, 2014

State of the State Word Clouds

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Here is your annual word clouds post from the State of the State.  On top is Governor Phil Bryant’s State of the State address and the Democratic response by Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman is on bottom.

Palazzo on Omnibus

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

In the previous post I mentioned the importance of the omnibus bill to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in regards to the National Flood Insurance Program and how that impacts the politics of the Mississippi US Senate race with challenger Chris McDaniel coming out in opposition to the bill.

Here is what Congressman Steven Palazzo had to say about today’s vote. (Press release in full.)

Praises provisions addressing flood insurance reforms, defense and NASA priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS-4) today voted in favor of a fiscal year 2014 budget bill that cuts federal spending for the fourth year in a row, for a record total of $165 billion since 2010. The bill was enacted as part of a space policy extension for which Palazzo, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space, is an original cosponsor. Among other things, the legislation includes delays for some homeowners facing flood insurance rate increases due to changing FEMA flood map changes, protects defense budgets from further damaging defense cuts, and addresses cost-of-living adjustments for medically-retired military retirees and survivors. The bill passed by a vote of 359-67.

In debate on the House floor, Palazzo called the bill “the product of months of work on the part of our appropriators, under regular order, to give us the framework,” and characterized it as “part of our commitment as House Republicans to continue cutting spending responsibly.”

Palazzo specifically spoke on the flood insurance reform provision, stating: “This begins to address issues facing homeowners across the nation – not just in coastal areas - by including the Palazzo, Cassidy, Grimm, Richmond amendment that has received wide bipartisan support in the House and Senate.  It halts all FEMA work, through the end of this fiscal year, to implement rate increases on some of those homeowners affected by flood map changes. This provision sets the stage for broader reforms that we are working toward later this month or the next.”

The flood insurance provision was originally passed in a broad bipartisan vote of 281-146 in June 2013, as an amendment to the House Homeland Security Appropriation bill. It would prevent FEMA from working to implement Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Act, the portion of the bill dealing with rate increases from FEMA map changes. The Senate version of the bill was approved at the committee level and included a similar delay measure. Palazzo is the Vice Chairman of the Home Protection Caucus and has worked with House leadership over the past year to bring broader bipartisan reforms to the House floor.

Palazzo also continued to praise defense provisions that were first approved in a December 2013 budget agreement to stave off another two years of damaging defense cuts from sequester. Wednesday’s budget bill reflects that agreement and also restores reductions to cost-of-living increases for those medically-retired and survivors.

Speaking on those provisions, Palazzo stated: “We maintain our commitments to our men and women in uniform by restoring damaging defense cuts. We address cost-of-living adjustments for 63,000 medically retired military personnel and survivors receiving benefits. I plan to continue working to address cost-of-living increases for all of our military retirees. We provide for a well-deserved 1% increase in troop pay. We also provide funding for homeland security priorities, such as the 7th and 8th National Security Cutters for the Coast Guard.”

All previous national security cutters have been built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS. The provision also increases funding for Department of Veterans Affairs medical services , including mental health, TBI, suicide prevention, and care for homeless vets.  It also provides for increased oversight of VA facilities while taking steps to end the disability claims backlog.

As chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space, Palazzo also spoke of NASA priorities included in the bill, as well as the extension of a “simple yet crucial policy that allows our space industry to remain globally competitive as they support and service satellites Americans rely on every day. I welcome this three year extension.  I also appreciate the consideration this package has given my NASA Reauthorization bill.”

The budget bill largely followed guidance provided in Palazzo’s NASA Reauthorization Act, which passed through the Science, Space & Technology Committee in 2013. That bill was designed to prioritize NASA’s budgets to ensure on-time development of the Space Launch System (SLS) program in support of the goal to return American astronauts back to space on American rockets launched from American soil. Currently, the U.S. does not even have the capability to do so, and is paying $70 million per seat to send American astronauts to the International Space Station on Russian rockets. The engines for the SLS program are being tested at Stennis Space Center. The bill also includes a report that questions the Administration’s costly and complex Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) and includes NASA accountability measures on plans for that mission as part of continuing efforts to oversee NASA’s budgets wisely.

Today’s legislation also deals a blow to ObamaCare programs by prohibiting any new funding for the law, taking $1 billion from a slush fund known as the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and cutting $10 million from the controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB.

Palazzo’s full remarks can be found here.

Omnibus, Flood Insurance & MS Senate 2014

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

There are plenty of reasons for Republicans to like the omnibus spending bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today; and plenty of reasons for Republicans not to like it.  Likewise, Democrats have items they love and items they hate in the legislation. Such is compromise and explains why all of Mississippi’s House members - Republicans Alan Nunnelee, Gregg Harper, Steven Palazzo as well as liberal Democrat Bennie Thompson - voted for it. (Although Harper noted he wasn’t thrilled about it.)

Among the positive items in the bill for Mississippi is something very important to the Mississippi Gulf Coast - a one year delay in the new premium increases under the National Flood Insurance Program.

That makes for interesting politics in Mississippi.

State Senator Chris McDaniel has come out in opposition to the bill and has urged U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, whom he is challenging in the Republican primary, to vote against it. That isn’t surprising with Washington groups like Heritage Action and Club For Growth announcing their opposition:

Heritage Action and the Club for Growth encouraged members of Congress to vote against the bill, promising to score the vote on their legislative scorecards.

Heritage Action particularly took issue with the delay of premium increases under the National Flood Insurance Program, a provision sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

So on the politics side of this vote, at least for this provision, McDaniel has put himself in a box on the Mississippi Coast. Either Cochran votes against the bill which hardly helps McDaniel’s case for making a change, or he votes for the bill and positions himself on the side of Gulf Coast homeowners and businesses - groups that would have faced skyrocketing premiums had McDaniel’s side won the vote.

Mississippi’s three coastal counties (Harrison, Hancock, Jackson) make up about 15% of the statewide Republican Primary vote.

Quick thoughts on Reagan and Cochran

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Yesterday, the new communications director for the Chris McDaniel campaign for U.S. Senate tweeted, “one wonders if so-called “big tent” republicans grasp the irony of attacking fellow republicans for working to build Ronald Reagan’s party.”

I’m not sure what that tweet was in reference to, but it elicited this response from @Sipconservative: “Reagan was a Thad supporter/friend. Might want to learn a little more about MS politics before spewing tea party stock lines”

I thought the following was worth adding to the conversation, but it requires more space than Twitter allows.

In October of 1984, President Ronald Reagan spoke in Gulfport at a reelection rally.  He thanked Thad Cochran saying:

“Now, we couldn’t have accomplished half of what we did without a Republican majority in the Senate, and Thad Cochran is in the first rank of that majority, and that’s why he’s there. He and some other stalwarts are battling against those who are still out for the old-fashioned idea of spending your money faster than you can send it in.”

This is proof of one thing: Ronald Reagan must have been a RINO! After all, he was a former Democrat.

Here is a photo of President Reagan, Senator Cochran and Senator Howard Baker from that year, but not at that event.

President Reagan spoke at a Mississippi Republican Party fundraising dinner in June of 1983 and thanked Senator Cochran, Lott and Congressman Webb Franklin “for the courage they’ve shown in tackling what seemed like overwhelming problems just two and a half years ago.” Here is a photo from that event:

Senator Cochran has served Mississippi from the early days of the Republican Party. The Mississippi Republican Party headquarters is jointly named to honor him and former Senator Trent Lott. He helped build the GOP in Mississippi and has worked with Republican giants like President Reagan. Today, many conservatives look back in awe of Reagan; Cochran knew the man and worked with him to create good policy for our country.

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