Monday, February 22, 2010

Claire McCaskill Responds (Well, I Mean, She Sent An Email)

Here is a response from Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri) to my Strongly Worded Letter.  It would be nice to at some point get a response from a politican that actually addresses my expressed concerns, but here is what she said:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the way things are run in Washington. I appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the chance to respond.

Missourians do not want a rubber-stamp for any President or party leader. They want their representatives in Washington to represent their interests. We are the Show-Me State, after all. As your Senator, I have worked to be an independent voice for Missouri. I think my record bears that out; I vote against my party more often than almost any other Senator.

I know that Missourians are especially concerned about the size of the federal government and the size of our national debt. I share these concerns. We do spend too much in Washington, and our deficit is dangerously high. I want you to know that I have consistently voted to hold down spending. I routinely vote to reject any spending increases and force spending to be held at last year's levels. I also vote against spending bills when they spend too much or contain too many earmarks (funding for specific projects selected by legislators). For instance, I voted against the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 because it contained a spending increase of 8% and had millions of dollars of earmarks. This year, I have thus far voted against the FY2010 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, the FY 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, and the FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill because of their high spending levels and the large number of earmarks contained in the bills. Spending in Washington simply cannot keep going up in these fiscally difficult times. I will continue to seek to hold down spending.

If we are going to live within our means, I also believe we need to cut waste out of federal spending. I have taken a hard line against all kinds of waste, from earmarks to no-bid contracts. I am one of five Senators who do not request earmarks, and I vote routinely to strike earmarks from spending bills. I have also been working to reform government contracting, which is rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. I lead the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight that investigates abuses in federal contracting, and I have been active in fighting against no-bid contracts. (I cannot think of anything more "socialist" than giving public money to private companies without any competitive process or oversight). I have supported other anti-waste initiatives as well, such as co-sponsoring a bill to create a line item veto and voting to establish "sunset commissions" to identify and eliminate government programs that are no longer effective.

Fundamentally, we need to use common sense when we are dealing with the budget. We need serious, comprehensive reforms. I am working with my colleagues to make those reforms. I introduced a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) bill (S. 1600) that would trigger across the board spending cuts unless all new direct spending or tax cuts are deficit-neutral. This is similar to the laws that helped create budget surpluses in the 1990s.

We do need to realize, however, that we cannot close the deficit by cutting non-defense discretionary spending alone (it makes up less than one-fifth of the annual budget). We are facing serious deficits and mounting debt, we are also facing an economic crisis, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, rising health care costs, and more. Thus, we need to walk a fine line between spending too much and investing too little. I am doing my best to walk that line. I voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, to provide a vital boost to the economy during the worst economic crisis in generations. However, I will continue to vote against bills like the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, discussed above, that contain too many earmarks and increase spending too much.

As your Senator, I am working to make sure that we manage taxpayer dollars wisely. I will continue to fight wasteful spending, and I am committed to reducing deficits while providing resources for important priorities. I appreciate your input, and I will keep your thoughts in mind when considering budget and spending bills going forward.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Claire McCaskill

United States Senator

P.S. If you would like more information about resources that can help Missourians, or what I am doing in the Senate on your behalf, please sign up for my email newsletter at


  1. Congrats, you have received Standard Form Letter 17B (Voting and Issues).

    Your letter worked!

  2. We all need to hold our elected officials to a higher standard of conduct. Obviously having an intern send a form letter out that conveys you didn't even read the original letter is insulting to the consituent who wrote the letter. I'd rather get no response.

    Shaking our heads and being apatheic is one response. I choose to hold my respresentation to a higher standard. I will never stop telling them what I think, and you shouldn't either, even when it seems pointless and depressing, as when you get a response like this.

  3. That's all noble and stuff but eventually you'll realize they don't give a shit about you or how you think they're doing their job.

  4. I wrote an emial to my Rep., John Barrow, a Blue Dog Democratic, urging him to support HCR, I had a reply (from an intern I assume), thanking me for supporting his stand against HCR?

  5. Sky, Tom meat me to my comment. If I did not know better, I would think the author of her letter was a Republican. She needs to face a primary challenge from a progressive.

  6. Tom, it's not that I don't realize they often don't give a shit. It's that I can't can't change whether or not they give a shit. I just have to keep giving a shit myself, and to that end, I'm going to keep telling them what I give a shit about.