Economic Freedom and Opposing Executive Branch Overreach
Thad says that Ronald Reagan was right when he said: “the best social program is a job.” He has consistently promoted principles of free enterprise, lower taxes, and economic opportunity and will continue to do so on behalf of all Mississippians. Thad knows that Obamacare is a bad deal for the country and will cause millions of Americans to lose their insurance, work less or leave the workforce entirely. That is why he’s voted to repeal, defund, or oppose Obamacare’s overreach 102 times and will keep fighting it as our U.S. Senator.
Thad believes government’s role should be to create an environment where opportunity exists for everyone who wants to seize it. The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that President Obama’s agenda creates disincentives for Americans to work, provides incentives for employers to hire fewer people, and exacerbates inequality. Obamacare will cause millions of Americans to leave the workforce and work less, and the President’s minimum wage hike will cost one-half million jobs, leaving more Americans earning zero dollars an hour.
Thad has opposed the Obama Administration’s efforts to limit gun rights; he opposed the Wall Street bank bailout; he opposed the President’s bloated and ineffective stimulus package of 2009; he opposed Obamacare; and he has consistently voted against the Administrations’ failed immigration proposals. Thad cosponsored legislation that would prevent the IRS from targeting individuals because of their political beliefs, and Thad supports legislation to restore the Tenth Amendment, sending power back to the states. Thad has introduced legislation to prevent overregulation of family farms by the EPA. He recently worked successfully to stop overregulation of family farms by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Thad continues to work to create jobs in Mississippi, while ensuring that government does not unnecessarily interfere in the free market. Economic growth will increase when barriers to innovation are rolled back, policies that encourage investment are implemented, and necessary government reforms are enacted to help prepare Americans for the challenge of tomorrow’s economy.
Thad continues to fight against Obamacare. He has voted to oppose, defund or repeal Obamacare’s overreach 102 times on the Senate. In 2013, Thad cosponsored the Obamacare Repeal Act authored by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Thad believes that Obamacare denies healthcare choice, stifles economic mobility and costs American jobs. In fact, a February Congressional Budget Office report confirms that Obamacare is reducing American jobs.
Thad also cosponsored legislation that would prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts of health insurance companies at the Obama Administration’s discretion, as permitted under Obamacare. Beyond the cost of these bailouts, these payments would likely end up being one more smokescreen to hide just how harmful and costly this ill-conceived law is turning out to be. Thad believes that lawmakers must go back to the drawing board and draft legislation that will work better for all Americans and actually reduce the cost of healthcare services without spending billions of taxpayer dollars to support these failing policies. The White House’s delay of the employer mandate past the 2014 elections is a sign that employers are responding to Obamacare’s mandates exactly as critics have contended: by cutting back on workers and hours. More recently, we learned that Medicare is being raided to pay for Obamacare. Seniors could lose access to the doctors they liked and were told they could keep. The President has shown he isn’t afraid to cherry-pick which parts of the law he delays, so he should stop these harmful cuts to Medicare.
Thad believes healthcare decisions are best made by families, not bureaucrats in Washington. That’s why he has made sure Mississippians have access to high quality care and transformative research. Thad forced the National Institutes of Health to stop putting Mississippi at the back of the pack and advocated a greater focus on Mississippi academic research partnerships. Today, doctors and researchers at the Guyton Research Complex headquartered in Jackson work with other world-class institutions to find cures for diseases affecting thousands of Mississippians.
The United States can enjoy a secure and affordable energy supply. Thad believes in an all-of-the-above policy to harness our nation’s energy resources. He has supported efforts to expand offshore oil and gas development, and to return a portion of federal offshore revenues to the states for natural resource conservation and other purposes. Thad opposes President Obama’s delay in approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. A recent report by Obama’s own State Department concluded that the pipeline would support over 42,000 jobs, during construction and beyond. It is time to create these jobs and make the U.S. more energy independent. Thad is committed to supporting common sense energy policies.
Thad has spent his entire career making Mississippi a leader in energy independence. He has worked to bring investments in power generation throughout the state and has enabled Mississippi universities to conduct cutting-edge research in energy innovation. Over 22,000 Mississippi jobs are directly attributable to our energy assets, but more jobs are needed. Reliable and abundant energy sources are good for Americans because they help lower electric bills and prices at the pump. Diverse, affordable energy sources also are critical to attracting high skilled manufacturing and technology companies.
He is staunchly opposed to a “carbon tax” and sees it as a sure job killer, particularly in states like Mississippi that are growing manufacturing jobs. Thad has supported legislation to block EPA overregulation of American industry and energy providers. Thad will continue to fight for an all-of-the-above energy policy that is fair to the American consumer.
Thad has always been on the side of hardworking Mississippi farmers. A third of all jobs in Mississippi are linked to agriculture and forestry with more than 42,000 farms and roughly 30,000,000 acres of farm and forestland. Through his leadership on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Thad continues to advocate for programs that work for Mississippi farmers. He fights to reduce government red tape and save taxpayer dollars. Just recently Thad was one of the four negotiators on the new farm bill. The legislation slashed duplicative programs of all types almost in half and saved taxpayers $23 billion. Thad has also strengthened our ability to fight fraud and abuse in federal programs.
Mississippi farmers are among the best in America and annually sell over $1 billion worth of produce, fiber, livestock, and fish around the world. Thad continues to break down barriers in overseas markets so that Mississippians can compete on a level playing field and provide for their families. He also is ensuring that our food supply, whether produced in America or other countries, is safe to eat. Keeping Thad in the Senate will enable Mississippi’s farming families and communities to stay strong and ensure that our country continues to enjoy a safe and affordable supply of food and fiber.
Protecting Life and Family
Thad is pro-life and helped launch the Hyde Amendment to bar the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions. Thad also cosponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in 2011. He is a co-sponsor of a bill that would require every health plan offered on an Obamacare insurance exchange to disclose any coverage of abortion in the plan’s marketing and advertising materials. The National Right to Life Committee strongly supports this legislation and gives Thad a 100% rating for voting to protect unborn children.
Thad also is a cosponsor of the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would bar the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their faith-founded belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
Spending and the Budget
Thad believes we must get spending under control, which is why he has repeatedly co-sponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Thad voted against President Obama’s $838 billion stimulus bill, and supported the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, requiring the President to provide a detailed report for spending reductions. He supported the Budget Control Act of 2011, which resulted in the first significant reduction in discretionary spending in generations. He continues to oppose Obama bailouts, demonstrated by his support for legislation like the Obamacare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act. As a Member of the Appropriations Committee, Thad has used his position to stop auto-pilot spending on Obamacare and other harmful government spending programs. Thad has questioned the Obama Administration about its priorities and shed light on its agenda. Because Thad is an appropriator, he has rooted out more wasteful spending proposals than just about anyone else in Congress. Thad works to direct spending to job-creating projects, rather than allowing the Obama Administration to make those spending decisions with little oversight from the people’s representatives in Congress.
A vast majority of our nation’s runaway spending is occurring outside the appropriations process and is called “mandatory” or “entitlement” spending. Our massive entitlement programs are putting our country on a path toward bankruptcy and are growing faster than the economy. Entitlement programs comprise 55% of the federal budget and continue to balloon under an Obama Administration that consistently opposes structural entitlement reforms.
The National Rifle Association gives Thad an “A+” rating. Thad believes that the Second Amendment right of the American people to keep and bear arms is not negotiable. He has countered all efforts to erode this bedrock, constitutional right, supporting legislation and legal challenges to protect that right, and opposing efforts such as the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty which threaten it. The right to arm was so important to the Founders of our nation that they enshrined it in our Bill of Rights. Thad believes that government interference in this basic American protection undermines the foundation of freedom on which our great nation was built.
Thad is proud of his contributions to Mississippi and American law enforcement. He has worked tirelessly to properly equip our policemen and first responders to fight crime and to protect life and property. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he stood by the side of law enforcement and successfully led efforts to rebuild Mississippi’s public safety communications system through the nation’s best wireless, interoperable network for first responders. Thanks to Thad’s leadership, Mississippi families are safer and better prepared to survive disasters and combat criminal activity.
Thad believes that states ought to have the right to require proof of ID from citizens when they register to vote. Thad is a cosponsor of a bill that would amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to permit states to require proof of citizenship for registration to vote in elections for Federal office.
Education and Workforce
Thad has always emphasized improving Mississippi’s educational and workforce infrastructure. The son of educators, Thad was strongly influenced by his parents’ careers in education. His mother and father met as students at Hinds Community College, and made academic rigor a priority in the way they raised their children. Thad and his brother, Neilson, were immersed in academic environments even at young ages. They spent summers at the University of Mississippi as their parents earned master’s degrees, and also lived at Blue Mountain College where their parents were members of the faculty.
Thad championed the Ready to Learn program, which encourages television broadcasters to create programs that provide early childhood education to preschoolers. Because of Ready to Learn, children living in areas where preschool education is not available can turn on the TV and watch shows that provide the tools needed to succeed in school. Thad supports teacher training programs, such as the Mississippi Writing and Thinking Project, and has worked to provide the tools needed to ensure that science, technology, engineering and math are appropriately taught in our schools. Thad has always opposed federal mandates for particular curricula and believes decisions about educating Mississippi’s children should be made by Mississippians, not the federal government. That’s why he has authored legislation to prevent the federal government from forcing Mississippi to adopt specific curricula, including Common Core.
Thad has made it a priority to ensure that Mississippi’s educational and workforce infrastructure provides the support to train new workers and upgrade the skills of the existing workforce. Mississippi’s community college system has become a national model during Thad’s tenure in Congress, and is helping Mississippi transition from an agriculture-only economy to a 21st Century high-tech economy. Thad helped ensure that resources were spent on skills training and curriculum to create the pipeline of workers that is attracting global companies to Mississippi today. Our community colleges have played a vital role in providing Mississippians opportunity through workforce development programs and have helped attract industry to Mississippi including Nissan (Canton), Toyota (Blue Springs), Yokohama (West Point), GE Aviation (Batesville & Ellisville), Raytheon (Forest), and Northrop Grumman (Moss Point).
Thad has consistently voted against inadequate immigration legislation. He even voted against his friend Ronald Reagan’s amnesty bill in 1986. In fact, he is one of three Senators in history to vote against every comprehensive immigration reform bill that sought to provide amnesty to those who have entered our country illegally (1986, 2006, 2007, 2013). Thad has voted against all legislation that would allow a process to grant legal status to illegal immigrants now in the United States. Thad realizes the importance of guest worker policy improvements that would benefit agriculture, seafood, high-tech and other industries in Mississippi and other states. However, as a member and first chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that secures our borders, Thad knows better than almost anyone that before solving the nation’s border security or law enforcement problems, we must not consider a path toward citizenship for those here illegally. Thad believes that the United States needs to improve its legal immigration policies and consistently enforce laws already on the books so that we remain globally competitive.
Thad understands that our transportation and water infrastructure plays an important role in our state’s economy and contributes to job growth. That’s why he has ensured that needed improvements to interstates, bridges, and railways have been made. From Tunica to the Gulf Coast, Thad has worked with local officials to provide communities the tools to create jobs. Many of the roads Mississippians drive every day are the direct result of his work. Thad made completing the Natchez Trace a top priority when elected, and since its completion he has worked to ensure it remains safe and maintained. In the wake of September 11th Thad supported securing our nation against another terrorist attack. Through his leadership Gulfport-Biloxi Airport was named one of only 16 airports in the entire country to pilot the latest aviation security technology that was being built by industry and deployed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He has been one of history’s greatest champions of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi River & Tributaries project, which has resulted in a 44 to 1 return on investment for taxpayers. During the historic 2011 flood alone, it prevented $234 billion in losses. Thad has been relentless in working to see that channel and port dredging remain a priority and that our levees are strong.
Our nation’s future in space exploration and cutting-edge rocket technology has a home at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. Thad proudly works to ensure that the over-5,000 jobs remain at Stennis and that critical missions of NASA, NOAA, the Navy, and military Special Operations Forces continue to be based in Mississippi and that the state remains an attractive venue for private aerospace ventures.
Without Thad’s leadership, the United States and her allies might not have access to the missile defense technologies so critical to global security today. Thad was one of President Reagan’s primary allies for missile defense in the Senate and was the chief author of the eventual product of Reagan’s leadership, the National Missile Defense Act of 1999. These missile defense systems serve as a deterrent to aggressor nations, and promote the peaceful resolution of disputes across the globe. Recent terrorist attacks on Israel were successfully defended by the Iron Dome system, developed through cooperation between the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Israel and spurred by Thad. In addition, Thad continues to support the shipbuilding needs of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and other federal organizations. Shipbuilding employs tens of thousands of Mississippians on the Gulf Coast. Without Thad’s influence, many Navy destroyers, Marine Corps amphibious ships, Coast Guard cutters, and Navy Seal boats would not have been built in Mississippi over the past several decades and would not be available to support national defense and border security missions. The Marine Corps specifically relies on amphibious ships built in Mississippi. Without Thad’s leadership, the number of such ships available for the Marines to conduct security and humanitarian missions around the world would have been diminished. In recent years, Thad has been responsible for securing $6.5 billion for Mississippi shipbuilding that the military needed but the President refused to request.
Thad has helped make the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flagship research facility. Named the Army’s top research facility numerous times over the last decade, ERDC has become the Department of Defense’s epicenter of knowledge for explosive blast research and high performance computing. Thad recently advocated that the responsibility for managing all Department of Defense supercomputers be transferred from the Pentagon to ERDC. ERDC now manages all DoD supercomputers worldwide. Such capacity has generated research opportunities for Mississippi’s universities and job opportunities for Mississippi’s citizens.
Thad has helped Mississippi’s military installations, including the Army National Guard’s Camp Shelby, Columbus Air Force Base, Gulfport Navy Seabee Base, Keesler Air Force Base, Meridian Naval Air Station and others survive and thrive through multiple rounds of Base Realignment and Closure. He also has been instrumental in the creation and sustainment of Mississippi’s emergent aerospace sector.
Thad has been one of the Senate’s leaders on flood disaster policy in recent years, addressing disaster recovery needs from Hurricane Katrina to the Mississippi River Flood of 2011. These disasters have created much debate regarding how FEMA considers flood control infrastructure when setting insurance premiums. In 2012, the Biggert-Waters law reformed the flood insurance program but substantially raised rates across the country. In January, Thad authored, and guided to Senate passage, legislation that gives FEMA time to make sure that the 2012 reforms, and their unintended consequences, are implemented in a responsible manner that helps ensure the viability of the flood insurance program. Thad’s legislation provides relief to homeowner and communities in Mississippi and throughout the country without undoing the positive reforms enacted in the Biggert-Waters law. Thad has said, “It is important that we make certain the government’s engineering practices and procedures are sound and understand the implications of these rates before we allow them to devalue private property and ruin people’s lives. It will be very challenging to rebuild neighborhoods or restore home equity once lost, so we must get it right.”
Israel’s sovereignty has been under near constant threat over the past several decades. Thad has been among Israel’s most reliable advocates in Congress. From his post as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Thad was one of a handful of members of Congress to analyze and approve the actions that led to the successful apprehension of Osama Bin Laden. Thad Cochran’s Appropriations subcommittee approved the funds necessary for the specific training, equipment, and simulative environments necessary for mission success in the apprehension of Bin Laden.
In the face of the worst natural disaster our country has ever seen, Thad was in the right place at the right time for his state. The Louisiana congressional delegation publicly demanded a staggering $250 billion from the government to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Thad, understanding that needed resources had to be presented in a prudent manner, worked with Gulf Coast lawmakers to create an essential needs list. In the end, Senator Cochran secured $29 billion, which was allocated to rebuilding basic infrastructure and assisting families rebuild their homes. Because Mississippi knew it was important to be good stewards of federal taxpayer dollars, only one half of one percent of the Mississippi disaster funds were called into question by auditors, despite the necessary rush to get assistance out the door. Since then, the Federal government and other states plagued with disaster have looked to Mississippi as a national model for how to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. Thad used his experience in looking after Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to author legislation to benefit all Americans during times of need. After supporting the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act to curb waste, fraud, and abuse associated with disasters, he authored the Disaster Recovery Act, which was signed into law in early 2013. This legislation took major steps to reduce bureaucratic red tape, enable local governments to chart their own course of recovery, and reduce waste during disaster recovery.