Posted by: David Offutt | October 25, 2014

The Muddy Record of Rep. Tom Cotton

Note: What follows is specific to one radical-reactionary running on the Republican ticket in the 2014 November elections in the state of Arkansas. However, you may have an equally wing-nut candidate running in your state or district. Feel free to compare your right-wing extremist to mine.

 

Representative Tom Cotton (Rep., AR) is the most extreme of Arkansas's congressional delegation. He's an ardent defender of the anarchistic, sociopathic agenda of the Koch brothers, Club for Growth (A.K.A. Club for Greed), and ALEC, which provides template bills to benefit the plutocracy. He's a strong opponent of Social Security, Head Start, student loan reform, and even voted against the essential air service bill that helps my hometown of El Dorado, AR.

Representative Tom Cotton (Rep., AR) is the most extreme of Arkansas’s congressional delegation. He’s an ardent defender of the anarchistic, sociopathic agenda of the Koch brothers, Club for Growth (A.K.A. Club for Greed), and ALEC, which provides template bills to benefit the plutocracy. He’s a strong opponent of Social Security, Head Start, and student loan reform. He initially voted against the essential air service bill that helps my hometown of El Dorado, AR, but later voted for it in the 2015 transportation and housing appropriations bill.

The best thing we have to look forward to is the certainty that we’ll have someone other than Tom Cotton to represent us in Arkansas’s 4th district. His voting record has been an embarrassment to humanity. When his House record was brought up as an issue after he announced his candidacy for the Senate, he accused his opposition of slinging mud. At least we know that Tom Cotton is honest: he acknowledged what his voting record looks like.

 

Mr. Cotton voted against the Farm Bill, which everyone knows is vital to Arkansas. Why? Because it still contained food stamp appropriations! Contrary to popular conception, more whites receive food stamps than blacks. Single mothers and children are the primary recipients. Proper nutrition is essential for the development of the mind and body. A well-nourished child is more likely to become a well-educated student and a productive adult. Since Mr. Cotton is Harvard-educated, we should not allow him to claim ignorance on this.

 

Republican candidate Bruce Westerman: If he replaces Mr. Cotton in Arkansas's 4th district, all we can hope for is that he will be Tom Cotton Lite and may on rare occasions be willing to compromise - it's doubtful though.

Republican candidate Bruce Westerman: If he replaces Mr. Cotton in Arkansas’s 4th district, all we can hope for is that he will be Tom Cotton Lite and may on rare occasions be willing to compromise – it’s doubtful though.

It would be admirable if Mr. Cotton were seeking ways to make food stamps less necessary. Does he support efforts to get Walmart, McDonalds, et al. to pay employees a living wage? Does he support the meager increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from only $7.25? (Even though that’s much better than $7.25 an hour, ask yourself whether it’s still enough to pay your bills.) Does he support putting millions of unemployed workers back to work by creating well-paying jobs to improve America’s crumbling infrastructure of roads, bridges, dams, parks, and electrical grid? (The construction of Interstate 69 across southern Arkansas is still unfunded!) Since he’s not doing any of these, it seems that he just doesn’t care.

 

Mr. Cotton agrees with many Arkansans that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) needs to be repealed. It appears to be a vote-getter to have the callous belief that in the USA only those wealthy enough or lucky enough to have a job that provides health benefits should be able to get insurance. However, by the end of this year, ten to twelve million people will have signed up for policies they couldn’t afford before. Also, in states like Arkansas that expanded Medicaid coverage, hundreds of thousands who otherwise would be without now have coverage (unlike those unfortunate enough to live in the wrong states). Are we really going to just take away all these people’s insurance?

 

Does Mr. Cotton want to replace the ACA with something better? Is he recommending universal health care: Medicare for everyone? Medicare is already fully operational for seniors, it works fine, and it’s less expensive. (Many of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 have never forgiven him for not fighting for universal Medicare. Instead, President Obama immediately opted for the Republican plan proposed by the right-wing think-tank Heritage Foundation.) No. Mr. Cotton has actually voted to extend the Medicare eligibility age to 70, privatize it, and turn it into a voucher system! That’s a not-too-subtle method to destroy it altogether.

 

Democratic candidate James Lee Witt: Although he seems to be a moderate conservative, he's easily the best choice for the 4th district to redeem itself after two embarrassing years of Tom Cotton. The best thing about him is that as Pres. Clinton's director of FEMA he knows that a well-funded government program run by someone who wants it to work can be good for the American people. Unlike Mr. Cotton, he won't be eager for another government shutdown.

Democratic candidate James Lee Witt: Although he seems to be a moderate conservative, he’s easily the best choice for the 4th district to redeem itself after two embarrassing years of Tom Cotton. The best thing about him is that as Pres. Clinton’s director of FEMA he knows that a well-funded government program run by someone who wants it to work can be good for the American people. Unlike Mr. Cotton, he won’t be eager for another government shutdown.

The Republican contribution to the ACA was the requirement mandate and the use of for-profit insurance companies. It’s doubtful Mr. Cotton and his Fox-Republican-Tea Party colleagues would really get rid of these. They both benefit the insurance companies. Remember, the Republicans asked Mr. Obama to delay the employer mandate for one more year; he agreed to their request; then they filed suit against him for doing what they asked! So they obviously support the mandate. Don’t you just love them?

 

There are ACA provisions Mr. Cotton and company would likely not include if they offered a replacement program. They would be the Democratic contributions in the ACA that benefit the people rather than the companies. Do you really want to say goodbye to these? 1. You can’t be kicked off your policy if you get sick; 2. You can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition; 3. Women can’t be charged more than men; 4. If unable to get a job with health coverage, your son or daughter can stay on your policy until age 26; 5. The elderly can’t be charged more than three times what is charged to younger policy holders; 6.The donut hole (the time when there is a gap before being covered again) in seniors’ Medicare drug programs is being closed; and 7. No more than 20 percent of your premiums can go to overhead, profits, and CEO salaries.

 

Sen. Mark Pryor - A moderate Democrat, known mostly for his bipartisanship: His voting record made him the obvious choice for endorsements from the Arkansas Educational Association and the Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare.  Arkansas was once a beacon of light in the darkest South. Mr. Pryor biggest challenge is that many Arkansans will never forgive the Democratic Party for nominating a black man for President in 2008. To paraphrase a British statesman before WWI, the lights are going out all over Arkansas, and I fear they will not come back on again in my lifetime.

Sen. Mark Pryor – A moderate Democrat, known mostly for his bipartisanship: His voting record made him the obvious choice for endorsements from the Arkansas Educational Association and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. Arkansas was once a beacon of light in the darkest South. Sadly, Mr. Pryor’s biggest challenge is that many Arkansans will never forgive the Democratic Party for nominating a black man for President in 2008. To paraphrase a British statesman before WWI, the lights are going out all over Arkansas, and I fear they will not come back on again in my lifetime.

One of Mr. Cotton’s most shameful votes was his opposition for aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Here in Arkansas, we have our fair share of natural disasters: tornadoes, droughts, and floods. When we need federal aid, we need to have a representative in Washington with the credibility to ask his colleagues for support. Tom Cotton doesn’t qualify. I don’t recall his ever claiming to be a “compassionate conservative,” which seems to be an oxymoron anyway, but we need a representative who is capable of showing empathy to those in need.

 

Mr. Cotton insists he votes according to his principles. But his anarchistic principle of opposing democratic government of, by, and for the people while favoring plutocratic rule is not a principle that I admire. I find deplorable his sociopathic principle of doing everything he can to help his corporate benefactors like the Koch brothers while sacrificing the rest of us. Nor can I find any redeeming value in his dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself principle. His principle of refusing to compromise helped make him a successful soldier but has made him an incompetent and irresponsible legislator. His muddy voting record definitely reflects those principles.

by David Offutt
A version of this essay was published in the October 23, 2014, edition of the Arkansas Times as a letter to the editor.

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Responses

  1. Everything you say about today’s Republicans is absolutely correct, David. Tom Cotton makes Orval Faubus (who was actually a closet lefty) look good.

    Unfortunately, today’s Democrats do not offer a viable alternative, since they mostly believe in the same things as Republicans — in fact Dems have co-opted most of the Republican agenda, like Heritage-Care, neoliberal austerity, free trade, privatization, the police state, and the neocon foreign policy.

    Today’s Democrats pretend to support a small increase in the minimum wage, but they never lifted a finger to increase the minimum wage when they controlled Congress 2009 – 2010 — they were too busy ignoring Republican crimes, expanding the Republican wars, implementing the Republican health care plan, and cheering Republican Alan Simpson’s austerity plan. Oh, and lets not forget the bipartisan Wall Street bailouts.

    It remains to be seen if sane voters will turn out this year to vote for an uninspiring lesser evil.


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