Senator Term Paper
Almost invariably, the United States Congress is a Bi-cameral legislature in which all legislative powers are vested upon. In this regard, the congress is composed of the House of Representatives as well as a Senate, designed in such a way as to provide a compromise between the nation’s popular majority and the interests of archetypal States constituting it. In a bid to critically examine the various issues underlying the legislative powers of Senators and how different personal, ideological, and electorate issues affect such processes, it is imperative to examine the opinion of Senator Claire McCaskill from the State of Missouri in the Midwest regarding the contentious debate and subsequent vote on elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, increase in federal income tax, increase in full retirement benefits, as well as reduction of defence budget, ostensibly to plug the budget deficit.
Biographical Background of Senator Mccaskill
The self-deprecating Senator Claire McCaskill was born in the summer of 1953 during the Presidency of President Harry S, Truman, in Rolla, Missouri, to her loving parents Bill and Betty Anne (Cohen & Barnes, 2018). McCaskill’s father, a man of modest means, was a World War two veteran and a recipient of Bronze star for his exemplary military service, which he kept secret from his family members until his death. During her formative years growing up in Missouri, Claire McCaskill and her parents moved to Rolla to Lebanon, a sprawling suburb of Missouri, where the family started a successful drug store. The family kept moving looking for suitable parts of the United States to experience the American dream, sojourns that saw Claire McCaskill get admitted to the Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri where she performed exemplary well.
Evidently, Claire McCaskill is a product of American public school system where she did exemplary well to get admitted to the University of Missouri-Columbia school of law, an interest aroused out of curiosity and inspired by her mother who by that time a recognizable feature in the Democratic party in Missouri (Cohen & Branes, 2018). As a budding college student Claire McCaskill waited tables at local restaurants ostensibly to get enough money to pay her college fees. After clearing her college, Claire McCaskill served briefly as an assistant prosecutor in Kansas City, Missouri, and subsequently as a criminal prosecutor specializing in arson and sex crimes. Invariably, Claire McCaskill’s stint at the American department of Justice whetted her appetite for politics and civil advocacy, and her desire to improve safety and lives of Missouri families saw her elected to Missouri’s legislature in 1982. As a member of Missouri state legislature, Claire McCaskill was voted in to the civil and criminal justice committee where she brought her activism to the national assembly with remarkable results. As Missouri national assembly member, Claire McCaskill was steeped in the ways and means of the common American, and appreciated the struggles of United States citizens especially the womenfolk. Subsequently, Claire McCaskill ran a successful campaign for Senate, and was elected as the first woman state senator for Missouri, a seat once held by her childhood hero President Harry S. Truman, before losing to her erstwhile rival Republican Josh Hawley in the 2018 Missouri midterm elections on 7th November 2018.
Evidently, Claire McCaskill was a serving Senator for the State of Missouri, renowned for its robust economy, underpinned by a rich and thriving manufacturing sector (Missouri Economic Research and Information Centre, 2018). Indeed, manufacturing is a critical component of Missouri’s 300 Billion USD economy as per 2016 estimates, representing close to 13.1 percent of the state’s economy , that translates to about 39.4 Billion USD (Missouri Economic Research and Information Centre, 2018). Moreover, the state of Missouri is ranked in pole position nationally in manufacturing employment and related capital expenditure. The contribution of manufacturing sector to Missouri’s economy is measured in terms of jobs created, value added, as well as income earned, key indicators that have over the years been observed to rank above the national average.
Political Ideologies, Leaning, and Influences of Senator McCaskill
As a democrat, Senator Claire McCaskill prides herself as a moderate with a burning desire to defy party position and seek bipartisanship across the political aisle, a fact evident in her voting patterns in the house. In this regard, the senator has over her two terms in office been observed to break party ranks and vote with Republicans on issues of utmost concern to her, a situation that has earned her praise and condemnation in equal measure (Cohen & Barnes, 2018). As a self-styled moderate democrat, Senator Claire McCaskill has always broken ranks with her party in various high profile votes such as the agitation for abolishment of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Medicare for all Americans
Almost invariably, during her stint in the Capitol, Senator Claire McCaskill’s voting behaviour has always been shaped by her upbringing from a rather Liberal family leaning towards the Democratic Party, as well as the community in which she was raised. As a daughter of Missouri, raised in the sprawling rural communities of Rolla, and Lebanon, Claire McCaskill fought for rural communities by robustly drafting and participating in debates on bipartisan pieces of legislation touching in manufacturing and farming sectors (Hellweg, 2011). In this regard, Senator Claire McCaskill made a pitch in the senate for an expanded broadband to rural communities, fought legislations that threatened Missouri’s agriculture, and made successful attempts in the house to implore on successive Washington administration from engaging in zero-sum trade wars that hurt farming communities in Missouri and the rest of America in general.
Senator’s Opinion on Stipulated Measures to Reduce Budget Deficit
Almost invariably, in light of a looming budget deficit, the United States government has proposed a raft of measures to plug the budget hole and subsequently balance it. The proposed measure that includes removing subsidies on fossil fuel, cutting the defence budget by 10 Percent, increase of federal income tax for Americans earing more that 250,000USD, as well as increasing the retirement age from 65 to 70 years has elicited passionate reactions from legislators including Senator Claire McCaskill.
As a self-styled independent minded senator, less beholden to the machinations of the two biggest political parties in American political landscape, and pursuing an unequivocal stance of bipartisanship in Congress, Claire McCaskill has been observed to vote purely on her conscience, with little regard to toeing party lines For instance, the Senator has voted in close to two-thirds of President Trump’s nominees to the judicially against the wishes of the Democrats, with the curious exemption of Justice Kavanaugh, whom she reckoned that his allegiance to anonymous money and unlimited donations in political campaigns was a big impediment to being a fair judge sitting in American single most apex court. Indeed, governance experts and political pundits posit that Senator Claire McCaskill has during her stint in Congress voted 16.9 percent of the time against her own party position, considered the 10th most frequent rate out of close to 100 Senators in Congress. In light of the pro-poor stance taken by Senator Claire McCaskill on various issues that touch on the preservation of local industries, the senator would vote no on the impeding debate on reduction of fuel subsidies for fossil fuel in the country, ostensibly to cut down budget deficits (Hellweg, 2011). The United States federal government has subsidized fossil fuel production using the tax code for 100 years. The government spends a lot of funds ($4 million) every year extending subsidies to producers of fossil fuels.
The proposal by the American government to remove the subsidization of fossil fuel production in the United Sates has been observed to elicit motley of reactions from Senators from both sides of the aisle including the self-deprecating senator Claire McCaskill. In this regard, Senator Claire McCaskill voted no on removing subsidies on oil and gas exploration across the United States on senate Bill number HR6 vote number 2007-226 on 21st June 2007, contending that if the bill was to be passed it would increase the competitive edge of foreign oil imports in America (APNIC, 2018). In this regard, she would be expected to vote no again for reduction of subsidies .Evidently, the senator posited that if the problem in American oil and gas market landscape is the influx of foreign oil into the country, there would be no rationale whatsoever in increasing taxes that would make it hard for American oil and gas companies to prospect and drill for oil in the country. In this regard I support the senator’s sentiments on voting no on removing subsidies since this would kill American oil and gas companies and subsequently export jobs overseas to the detriment of American economy in general (APNIC, 2018). Moreover, I would ambivalent in believing that punishing local industries would be a panacea to sound management of government funds and balancing the budget, which on the contrary would result to massive job losses and slack in economic growth.
Invariably, the composition of the voter demographics in the state of Missouri plays a critical part in influencing Senator Claire McCaskill voting patterns on the house and subsequent acquired political ideologies. In this regard, the burgeoning of white college educated population in the State has dramatically shifted political leanings with the GOP having an edge on the citizenry based on the attendant ideologies (Texeira & Frey, 2008). Moreover, the white working class in Missouri, have over the years been observed to lean politically to the Republican Party. In voting for President Trump’s legislative proposals and breaking ranks with her Democratic Party stance on many occasions, Senator Claire McCaskill personifies the composition and ideological leanings of her constituency regardless of political leanings.
House Committee Membership
As a Liberal politician in Congress on a Democratic Party ticket, Senator McCaskill sits on several house committees critical in charting legislative policies and key issues affecting American lives. In this regard, Claire McCaskill is ranking member of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental affairs, where she is an ex-official member of various sub-committees that includes: Federal spending oversight and emergency committee, permanent subcommittees on investigations, as well as regulatory affairs and federal management committee. Moreover, as a ranking member of Senate Committee on Armed Forces, Claire McCaskill sits on Airland, Cybersecurity, as well as personnel subcommittees (Cohen & Barnes, 2018). To cap her robust influence in the Senate, Claire McCaskill has been a member of the Senate committee on Finance, sitting in International Trade, Customs and global competitiveness subcommittee, as well as the Taxation and IRS oversight subcommittee. By dint of her position in the aforementioned committees and sub committees, Claire McCaskill is a natural target of major lobby groups and special interest groups that would invariably dangle generous campaign funds to influence her voting patterns at committee level. Ideally, a single Senator’s activities in any committee is highly influenced by the underlying voting issues and thus members are careful not to antagonize their constituents regarding various issues on a committee level such as balancing the budget.
Almost invariably, the issue of defence budget cuts ostensibly to balance the budget would be of great concern to the Senator from Missouri particular in her capacity as a member of the armed forces committee. Ideally, the defence budget is influenced by the national defence strategy and whose passage depends on bipartisanship efforts from congress. In this regard, the Senator would not be willing to compromise the security of Americans at the expense of balancing the national government’s budget (O’Donnell, 2012). Indeed, the senator has been a key supporter of drafting various legislations and getting them passed on the house through the Senate Armed forces committee as well as the full senate. Evidently, cutting military spending by 10 percent is not a panacea to balancing the budget, and would result to thousands of job losses as well as exposing Americans to external threats. Though Senator McCaskill has previously shown her disdain to wanton spending cuts, she advocated for an amendment in 2010, designed to impose a punitive annual caps on discretionary spending by government.
Evidently, as a member of finance and budgeting committee of United States Senate, Senator Claire McCaskill would be keen on the various underlying issues that influence balancing of budget by the central government through issues such as increasing federal income tax for individual Americans earning more than 250,000USD. In this regard, McCaskill would invariably vote yes for such as vote consistent with her previous assertions that big corporations and wealthy individuals in America have a comparative advantage over poor Americans and small businesses. As a firm defender of middle class and the poor, Senator Claire McCaskill would invariably seek a bipartisanship vote by dint of being a member of the financing and budgeting committee. In this regard, I reckon that it would not be prudent to impose hefty fines on middle class Americans under the guise of balancing the budget. The Senator contends that raising the cap for federal tax increases to 250,000USD would get American solvency to 2080 without necessarily cutting benefits or raising retirement age (Poor, 2018). Moreover, the senator has voiced her opposition to raising the age of retirement age for full retirement benefits. In this regard, Claire McCaskill will likely vote against the increase in retirement age based on her previous pronouncements and by dint of the fact that she seats on the budget committee. In my opinion it would impractical to raise the age for full retirement benefits, and individual Americans should get their benefits when they really need them.
Overall, in light of the looming plans by the United States government to devise working mechanisms to plug the budget hole, it is incumbent upon members of the Bicameral house specifically the senate to vote with their conscience on this particular issue. Senator, Claire McCaskill for instance, known for her patriotism, pro-poor approach to national issues as well as an inclination towards bipartisanship will likely rise to the occasion on the resultant votes. In this regard, this second term Missouri senator will most likely oppose reduction of subsidies on fossil fuel, vote no on military spending by 10percent, and vote yes to increasing the retirement age from 65 to 70 years, as well as vote nay on any plans by the government to increase taxes on individuals earning more than 250,000USD.
APNIC. (2018). Claire McCaskill on Energy & Oil Democratic Sr Senator; previously state Auditor. http://www.ontheissues.org/International/Claire_McCaskill_Energy_+_Oil.htm
Cohen, R., & Barnes, J. (2018). Almanac of American Politics 2018 (3rd ed., pp. 1083-1086). New York: Bernan Distribution
Hellweg, A. (2011). Social media sites of politicians influence their perception by Constituents. The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 2(1), 22- 36. http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/vol2no1/03hellweg.pdf
Missouri Economic Research and Information Centre. (2018). Missouri Economic Report (pp. 1-64). St Louis: Missouri Economic Research and Information Centre. https://www.missourieconomy.org/pdfs/2017_MO_Economic_Report.pdf
O’Donnell, C. (2012). The Implications of Military Spending Cuts for NATO’s Largest Members. Presentation, Massachusetts.
Poor, T. (2018). Senate Hopefuls Diverge on Key Issues. https://states.aarp.org/senate-hopefuls-diverge-on-issues/
Texeira, R., & Frey, W. (2008). The Political Geography of Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri: Battlegrounds in the Heartland. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/10_midwest_frey_teixeira.pdf