In the ongoing saga of Mississippi’s Republican primary, Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party darling who has, among other things, spoken to a couple of neo-confederate rallies because why make this easy by selecting someone with qualifications who doesn’t yearn for the days with the South was a gentrified, agricultural region that enslaved an entire race of people, is taking on six-term Senator Thad Cochran, who isn’t a bad dude (he has a 79% rating from ACU, opposed Obamacare, etc), but happens to like to bring home the pork.
Apparently, Chris McDaniel would have a much more impressive commitment to limited government, lower taxes and all the things that get the Tea Party out of bed in the morning, because Chris McDaniel totally says he will and you should definitely believe him because like Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin who not only supported the TARP bailout but wrote signed letters encouraging others to support it, what he says about things now is way more important than what he’s done over the course of his career.
Which, in the case of Chris McDaniel, is vote at least 39 times to hike taxes on the esteemed residents of Mississippi at least according to the official state records, including at least one nanny-state cigarette tax.
House Bill 364 (Cigarette Tax) – a major 2009 legislative issue was the attempt by Democrats to increase the cigarette tax. On January 29, 2009, the Senate took up debate on the House-passed bill to increase the tax. The bill left the House with a five cent tax, and the Senate committee reported to the floor a bill with a 2.45 cent tax. Sen. Blount’s amendment proposed to raise the tax back up to five cents. It failed by a vote of 23-27 (McDaniel voted NO). On final passage, McDaniel voted in FAVOR of the legislation to raise cigarette taxes to 2.45 cents per cigarette. The bill was approved 42-7 on January 29, 2009. On May 6, 2009, the full Senate adopted the conference report by a margin of 40-4 with a tax rate of 3.4 cents per cigarette, or 50 cents per pack increase. McDaniel was one of the four NO votes.
And then there’s this: a tax on hospitals that would allow the state to increase their take in the federal government’s Medicaid Match program. McDaniel voted “no” initially, but only because he was apparently under the impression that Mississippi would get stimulus funds.
House Bill 105 (Medicaid/Hospital Tax) – one of the top issues of 2009 was whether or not to impose an assessment or “tax” on hospitals (as a way of generating funding that could then be matched for additional Medicaid receipts). So, on March 5, 2009, the full Senate considered legislation to impose an “assessment” on hospitals to generate additional money for the Medicaid-match program. Sen. Baria and others offered an amendment to delay the imposition of the assessment if the state received a certain amount of funding from the federal stimulus legislation. This was seen as a vote for the hospitals and against the Governor. Baria’s amendment passed 26-18 (which McDaniel supported). Sen. Blount then offered an amendment that sought to prohibit the face-to-face eligibility redeterminations that the state Medicaid program (under Barbour) were requiring. Blount’s argument that the face-to-face hearings represented a hardship on people who did not have reliable transportation. The amendment passed 25-21 (with McDaniel voting NO). The bill, as amended, passed 30-17 (with McDaniel voting NO).The amendments were rejected by the House and the bill forced into conference where it died, forcing a special session.
House Bill 71 (Medicaid/Hospital Tax) – on June 30, 2009, the Senate approved compromise legislation reauthorizing the Division of Medicaid and imposing assessments (i.e., taxes) on hospitals, the revenue from which would be used to match federal funds. McDaniel voted FOR this legislation, which was signed into law by the Governor.
And when it comes to Obamacare exchanges?
House Bill 1220 (Health Benefit Exchange) – on March 2, 2011, the full Senate passed this bill that would create a state Health Benefit Exchange. The vote was 49-0 (with McDaniel voting YES). The bill passed the Senate but died in conference because the two sides could not reconcile the chief difference, which was the Republicans in the Senate wanted the Exchange to be run by a private organization, rather than as an agency of state government, which is how it passed the House. Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney supported the House version, arguing the benefits to having this kind of bill to help people gain insurance coverage was the best way to go.
The argument wasn’t whether there should be a health care exchange that incorporated the Affordable Care Act. It was just about who should manage it. Here’s a hint: even if a private insurance company manages it, it’s still an Obamacare exchange, which means that it’s still not in defiance of the law.
And then there’s Common Core national education standards, opposition to which has become a major part of the national Tea Party platform. McDaniel has often noted that “no one” fought harder against Common Core than his conservative coalition in the Mississippi state house. But that’s only if you don’t count Chris McDaniel
2013: HB1648 – Chris McDaniel voted yes for $94,082 for “Common Core/Literacy.” (Roll Call)
2012: HB1593 – Chris McDaniel voted yes for $94,082 for “Common Core/Literacy” and $400,000 for “Common Core Professional Development.” (Roll Call)