Last week, The Daily Mississippian, the official paper at Ole Miss, ran an opinion piece by a junior banking and finance major, Wright Ricketts, which touted Roger Wicker’s conservative bona fides and called for his re-election to the US Senate in 2018. It was in response to an opinion published a few weeks ago by Will Hall, another Ole Miss student who stands by Chris McDaniel.
Ricketts praises Wicker throughout his piece. “Sen. Wicker is the proven conservative in this race. Pragmatic yet principled, Sen. Wicker has consistently and ardently advocated for conservative policies in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Mississippi, and his voting record proves it.”
Aside from the fact that it is impossible to be both pragmatic and principled, as one will certainly cancel out the other, Wicker’s record is far from conservative, and compared to Chris McDaniel, Roger Wicker is a flaming liberal.
Ricketts points to two large areas of public policy with very few specifics: “Sen. Wicker’s dedication to small government and individual liberty, along with his support for an ‘America First’ agenda, is evident in his voting record. Decades of consistently fighting for his Mississippi constituents, as well as for all Americans, to enact conservative policies in Washington make Sen. Wicker the clear choice for Republicans in Mississippi’s 2018 U.S. Senate race.”
So let’s consider Wicker’s “dedication to small government” first. I can disprove it with just two votes:
In 2011, Senator Rand Paul proposed a plan that would have balanced the budget in five years, generating a $19 billion surplus by 2016. It slashed spending by trillions, eliminated four cabinet departments, reformed entitlements, fully repealed Obamacare, and all without raising taxes a single cent. In fact, it restored the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that Obama had repealed in 2012 (see below). Yet Roger Wicker voted against it.
If the Paul Plan seems a draconian measure to some, even those who call themselves conservative, then consider a 2013 amendment by Senator Mike Lee that would have cut discretionary spending by one-half of one percent. That’s just .50 cents for every $100 dollars Congress spends on those programs. Roger Wicker voted against it as well.
For good measure, we should note that Wicker has voted against earmark reform four times, supported bloated farm bills full of food stamp spending and pork-filled disaster relief bills, voted to raise the debt ceiling countless times, and for many of Obama’s overstuffed budgets.
And as a side note, Wicker also voted for the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (Obama’s “fiscal cliff” budget deal), which raised taxes on individuals making over $400,000, raised payroll taxes on 77 percent of Americans, and extended corporate welfare tax breaks for special interests.
So now let’s look at Wicker’s support for “individual liberty.” Certainly Wicker has a top score on gun rights. That’s a given for any Mississippi Republican. Try getting elected statewide with an F. But Wicker is not quite as rock-solid as his backers believe.
In one conspicuous example, in 2013 Harry Reid proposed a new gun control bill – the “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act.” Gun Owners of America opposed the bill and asked members of the Senate not to invoke cloture and end debate on it, which would effectively kill it. Yet Roger Wicker voted with Reid and the Democrats to stop debate and allow the bill to be voted on.
Individual liberty, though, is more than just the Second Amendment. The Fourth Amendment, which safeguards individuals from unlawful arrest and detainment, is being eroded by the day and there has been no stronger advocate for strengthening it than Senator Rand Paul.
In 2012, Senator Paul introduced an amendment to the FISA Reauthorization Act, which proposed to “ensure adequate protection of the rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” Wicker voted against it.
To boost Wicker, Mr. Ricketts also cherry-picked organizations that give Wicker higher scores, but other groups are not nearly so generous. Mark Levin’s Conservative Review “Liberty Score,” which ranks members of Congress on votes that either protect or harm liberty, rates Wicker an F, with a score of 30. The Heritage Foundation also scores Wicker an F at 52, which is below the entire Senate average.
“Without an ally such as Wicker in the Senate, implementing President Trump’s legislative agenda would be even more difficult than it is today,” writes Mr. Ricketts. But the problem here is in the form of the filibuster, the preferred weapon of obstructionist Democrats. As has been documented, Wicker supports keeping the filibuster in place even though President Trump has repeatedly asked Senate Republicans to end it and pass his agenda.
And it’s likely the “America First” agenda will grind to a halt at the hands of Schumer and Company with it in place. So this renders Wicker’s oft repeated 96.2 percent voting record with Trump meaningless, even though Ricketts touts it as a positive.
As they did in 2014 with Thad Cochran, the Establishment is going to try to paint Roger Wicker as a conservative. But he’s not. Far from it. He is a Mitch McConnell “Yes Man” and a complete examination of his record over more than two decades in Congress will definitively prove it.