During my years as a journalist, I’ve seen dozens of press releases like the one distributed recently by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., announcing $67.1 million in funding for water resource improvements in his state.
Governmental agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the funding, are always instructed to allow the congressman or senator who will benefit most from the news to make the initial announcement.
For many years, the releases came in franked envelopes. Now they arrive via email. Either way, the releases are a sign the federal government continues to work as the founding fathers intended, providing tax dollars to projects needed to further the common good.
It wasn’t too long ago that Sen. Cochran, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, fought off a re-election challenge by a state senator who campaigned on a platform that would have rejected all federal funding for the state.
For Mississippi, which is now suffering from falling agricultural prices and a lingering manufacturing recession, the results would be devastating. Thousands would be laid off with no safety net in a state where jobs are not that plentiful.
Too many people seem to think our fiscal problems will be solved if we just cut taxes and spending. If it were that simple, the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates and slow the economy to a trickle. But the Fed knows that’s the last thing that should happen.
Look at what’s happening with cotton. Since 2013, prices have dropped by a third. Cotton has no program so there are no Price Loss Coverage payments like for corn or rice and thus no safety net. The resulting drop in income is pushing farmers toward the brink of bankruptcy.
Another example: Tax cuts aimed at shoring up the failed presidential campaign of former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are now threatening hundreds of positions at what until now has been one of the best agricultural research institutions in the country. The LSU AgCenter has already lost more than $23.4 million in funding since 2009 and could be looking at millions more in cuts in the coming year.