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Chris McDaniel and Mississippi’s defense industry
Rhetoric, endorsements raise questions

by Frank Corder
Just how firmly committed to Mississippi's defense industry is state Sen. Chris McDaniel?

McDaniel says, "We should never attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our military men and women," but what exactly does he mean by that carefully rehearsed line?

The U.S. Senate challenger has been trying to throw off the indictment that he will not as strongly support Mississippi's defense industry as has Sen. Thad Cochran. He calls such claims fear mongering.

Like it or not, the onus is on him to provide Mississippi with the comfort it needs to face these very real and tangible fears.

But his campaign rhetoric is beginning to sound like doublespeak to those whose livelihoods depend on the jobs created by these industries.

McDaniel criticized Cochran following his vote for a $1.1 trillion appropriations bill which included $629 millions for the construction of Coast Guard cutters at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula along with additional funds for the LHD and destroyer programs.

The bill also included funds for Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, among other Mississippi projects.

McDaniel pointed to the national debt crisis and said at the time, "I had hoped Sen. Cochran would have provided the leadership so badly needed in Washington by voting against this massive spending increase."

Yet, what about that "we should never attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our military men and women" line?

And now McDaniel has been endorsed by Ron Paul who will be campaigning with him in-state.

If you will recall it was Ron Paul (R) who joined Barney Frank (D) is crafting a Sustainable Defense Task Force plan which called for significant cuts to the national defense budget.

In that plan Paul and Frank proposed reducing the size of the US Navy fleet from the long accepted threshold of 313 ships to 230. This is far below the 600 ship Navy President Ronald Reagan once envisioned.

The plan also called for fighter squadron reductions, missile defense reductions, and other combat readiness reductions.

What was that line again? Oh yes - "we should never attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our military men and women."

And how can we forget the Tea Party who is so raucously supporting McDaniel.

The Tea Party Patriots once said, "defense spending is and should be a target for spending cuts."

Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told The Hill in 2011, "Nothing should be sacred, and everything needs to be evaluated and cut as much as it can be."

FreedomWorks' Max Pappas said in the same article, "So the left is going to have to compromise and cut some domestic welfare spending, and the right is going to have to compromise and cut some military spending."

But wait... What about the "we should never attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our military men and women" line?

And did you see the word "compromise" in there? That's a curse word in today's Tea Party world. McDaniel even said recently, "I'm not going there to reach across the aisle and compromise. That's not the kind of person I am."

My, how times have changed. But I digress.

So which is it?

Will Chris McDaniel as strongly support Mississippi's defense industry and our nation's military capabilities as Thad Cochran has during his service...

...Or will McDaniel fall in line with his endorsers who have repeatedly called for defense cuts and a reduction in combat capabilities which has a direct effect on Mississippi jobs while slashing defense spending?

Did I mention, "we should never attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our military men and women?"

When rhetoric and endorsements don't add up it raises many questions, especially when it has a direct effect on thousands of Mississippians' pocketbooks and their family's security.

Posted June 13, 2014 - 6:57 am

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