by Clarke Wise
*The views expressed are my own and not necessarily representative of any particular group or association.*
Throughout my lifetime, President Ronald Reagan has often served as the barometer or litmus test for any aspiring Republican. In fact, one could go through his countless quotations and philosophical musings about the role of government to describe the foundation of the Republican Party. I could even argue that most of the positions enjoy no expiration date. And while political speak has transitioned from television to Twitter, there still remains one clarifying and unifying philosophy for Reagan Republican voters to examine before supporting any candidate: Government is not the solution to the problem, government often is the problem.
So, allow me to make the case for the true Republican Gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 election- Tate Reeves.
Let’s start with healthcare. I have often said that Republicans struggle with the healthcare debate because critics argue with their heart, and Republicans argue with their head. Make no mistake about it, Medicaid Expansion is no exception.
To my Republican friends who remain undecided or are on the Waller wagon, think about that for a minute. In what world has a Republican identified the government as the savior for a problem? And furthermore, if you fancy yourself a fiscal conservative, have you asked yourself “how do we pay for it?” If not, here’s a hint: nothing is more expensive than free. And while Hood and Waller may quibble over the semantics and call it “Medicaid reform,” let’s be honest and call it what it really is- more government.
On infrastructure, we have three candidates with two positions. Two believe a tax increase is the pathway forward. One believes that an environment, fostered by limited government intervention, with more taxpayers is a recipe for economic growth.
Another Reagan saying comes to mind whenever I hear clamors to hike taxes or increase revenue: “The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.” Now, some special interests will claim the cost of doing business has gone up, and that’s a fair point. But I would ask, are we spending the money appropriately? Just this week, Auditor Shad White announced his office identified $50,000 in improper expenditures in the Hinds County School District. That’s one school district. Wouldn’t you agree that Mississippi deserves the type of scrutiny throughout every element of government?
Again, Waller has words about feeding the government beast with more of our tax dollars, Reeves has a track record as a watchdog of our money. Say what you will, Mississippi needs a Governor who relies on private sector innovation, not expanding the size and scope of government intrusion in our lives.
There is a narrative in Mississippi politics that money is the solution, and in fact, most disciples of that philosophy will tell you the amount needed to fix the issue is “more.” If you are fine with an increase in your taxes at the gas pump, mark your ballot for Hood or Waller. If you believe that government, like most Mississippians, should prioritize spending to fit within a budget, then Tate Reeves is your candidate. If you are opposed to the notion of higher taxes (cloaked in the term “user fee”), then Tate Reeves is your candidate.
Finally, I hear some cringe at the Lieutenant Governor’s track record of saying “No” to certain policies. Contrary to what some interests may say, that’s a good attribute. In fact, I submit that the ability to make tough decisions is a requirement for Mississippi’s next Governor.
For those struggling with this concept, I would encourage you to examine the career of the late Congressman Alan Nunnelee. During his remarks at one of the MS Boys State speeches, Congressman Nunnelee recounted his conversation with then Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant when Alan was asked to Chair the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Congressman pointed out that he never served on the Appropriations Committee. According to Lt. Gov Bryant, what qualified Nunnelee was the ability to say “No” when necessary, the ability to say “Yes” when it’s important, and the wisdom to know the difference. Mississippi deserves a Governor who possesses the ability to process information and make difficult decisions- even when they are unpopular. Some will say that is Tate’s most frustrating quality. I would suggest that is his defining attribute that separates him from all other candidates.
As we approach the runoff election on Tuesday, August 27th, I would ask you to evaluate the candidates’ messages. Take a hard look at the two. I did, and to be blunt, Waller’s message and Hood’s message are indistinguishable.
Republicans have a clear choice. One candidate supports growing a government program and increasing the deficit and one says no to expanding Obama era policies. One candidate endorses and promotes a tax increase at the gas pump and one says government should be more responsible in how they spend our money. So in closing my case for Tate, I will leave you with one last quotation from President Reagan, “If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question.” I hope you will support an effort to keep government limited and accountable.
I hope you vote for the only conservative candidate for Governor, Tate Reeves.