Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Your state legislators are term-limited. You elect someone who you think is a pretty solid conservative. Votes the right way most of the time, says a lot of the right things. Yeah, they’re not perfect. In fact, they might’ve only switched to the Republican party relatively recently (chances are you’re in the South if that’s the case). But still, you like the person.
Well, when that last term comes around, you notice something. The votes aren’t as conservative as they used to be. The rhetoric isn’t as dogmatic as you remember it being. The politician now doing what they think is right more than doing what you voted them to do.
Fun fact: What’s right and what you want them to do are not always aligned. In fact, the longer the person is in office, the less aligned they are.
Soon, the politician has torched every single person who voted for him or her to be a conservative. There is little left in terms of alignment. They have embraced their true nature. They either decide to become a full-on Democrat or a full-on know-it-all who thinks you just don’t know what’s good for you.
(Note: That is a Venn diagram with a large overlap.)
This is Bill Cassidy at a federal level. He ran for the Senate in 2014 without much of a stellar career in the House. The peak of his career was beating the dynastic Mary Landrieu, who was the incumbent Senator, during the second midterm of the Obama years, helping to shift the balance of the Senate away from the Democratic Party.
When Cassidy initially ran, there was talk that he was just in it for two terms and then he’d be done. It makes sense. He’ll be close to 70 by the time he’s up for election again. As many have pointed out in their commentary of him, he was a Democrat until the early 2000s before switching parties when it became expedient to do so.
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
Cassidy has been defending the bipartisan infrastructure bill left and right to anyone who will listen, and has even gone on Twitter tirades about the bill. But the problem is that people are actually reading it. They know what’s in it now, and no matter what he says, he’s being proven wrong.
Here in Louisiana, Scott McKay is the publisher of The Hayride, and had this to say about the Senator on Monday.
The way these infrastructure bills ought to work in any event is they ought to be block grant money to states to supplement their capital outlay packages. The states know a lot better than the feds do what their infrastructure needs are. And if states steal the block grant money, well, that’s what the Department of Justice is for. If you want, then have the state legislatures send up requests in writing for their needs to be addressed in the block grants, and be subject to an audit of that spending.
Instead, it all comes top down. Which as we’ve seen, gives Cassidy a chance to crow about all the projects he got funded in the infrastructure bill.
But you won’t hear him crow about all the terrible garbage he’s making us swallow so that there’s money for a new bridge in Baton Rouge or for I-49 south from Lafayette through Bayou Country.
It isn’t so much that Bill Cassidy is a RINO or that he’s a sellout, though we are far from arguing he’s not those things. It’s that after all this time in public office he still doesn’t understand why the voters sent him to DC in the first place.
A state like Louisiana which votes Republican at a sixty percent clip is looking for strong voices who won’t fall for the kind of foolishness this bill represents. Not weaklings who get rolled over and then act like they’ve accomplished something.
It’s not that Cassidy is a RINO or a secret Democrat, really. He is simply out to prove that he knows better than his constituents what the right decision is. In business, it is said that the customer is always right. In politics, most elected officials forget that the constituent is always right. They are supposed to be in Washington D.C. voting in the interest of their constituents, and while six billion dollars for Louisiana is great, the compounded effect of all this extra federal spending and inflation will hurt the constituents far more than an extension of an interstate through one of the larger metropolitan areas.
Cassidy is so convinced that he is right that he is making stupid mistakes. He put blinders on and is only focused on the rewards to Louisiana, and is getting absolutely wrecked by anyone who has actually read the bill.
When asked about that portion of the bill that says, “The term ‘‘per-mile user fee’’ means a revenue mechanism that – is applied to road users operating motor vehicles on the surface transportation system; and is based on the number of vehicle miles traveled by an individual road user,” Cassidy told KEEL that that portion of the bill wasn’t included.
“It’s not in there,” said Cassidy, insisting that the per-mile tax proposal mentioned in Section 13002 doesn’t exist, “That’s not in there.”
But when the exact verbiage of the bill was read to him, the Senator seemed to change his tune. “There is that section. That’s not the section I wrote. But I promise you there is no user fee being assessed,” Cassidy then said, “I promise you there is not a user fee being assessed. It’s a pilot. They could be taking vehicles that are belonging to the federal government and we want to see how it works.”
This is the same Cassidy who ran as a pro-Trump candidate in 2020 and immediately turned around and voted to impeach Trump in the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the capitol. He is not a firebrand conservative, and never really was. He peaked when he beat a legacy Democrat seven years ago and he’s on his way out.
The only surprise, really, is that he would decide to torch his voters this early into his final term. I figured we had a couple of years before he went that route.