Tag Archives: Tom Cotton

Tax returns become central to public policy

Tom Cotton is an earnest young man who happens to be a U.S. senator from Arkansas.

He held a town hall meeting this week back home. Someone asked him about Donald J. Trump’s tax returns and wondered why the president won’t release them.

Sen. Cotton, a fellow Republican, then gave the wrong answer. He said Trump is “under audit” by the Internal Revenue Service. The response drew a chorus of boos.

Here’s my take.

If the president has nothing to hide, he ought to release the tax returns. The questions from many Americans — and yes, many of us do care about this matter — center on the president’s foreign investments. The Russia story isn’t about to wither away. It’s going to remain on our national front burner for as long as Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns in direct contradiction to four decades of custom; presidential nominees of both parties have made their returns public since 1976.

Cotton gets an earful

Sen. Cotton’s tepid defense of the president’s refusal didn’t escape the belief among many at his town hall meeting that Trump’s “audit” dodge doesn’t hold up. The IRS has said — without commenting on Trump’s situation specifically — that an audit does not prevent release of one’s returns.

Meanwhile, the questions about foreign investments persist. They will continue to persist until the president does what he should have done when he became a candidate for the nation’s highest office.

Sen. Cotton clams up on Trump


Tom Cotton is a combative freshman Republican U.S. senator from Arkansas who’s proven to be unafraid to speak his mind on just about anything … or anyone.

But when he was asked to make the case for Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States, Sen. Cotton turned strangely quiet.

It’s up to Trump, he said, to make his own case.


What gives? This is the young man — an Iraq War veteran — who recently called Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid all kinds of names while condemning his leadership in the upper legislative chamber.

This looks to me like another case of Republican officials finding it hard to articulate why they support the presumptive presidential nominee of their own party.

Cotton’s  demurring on that today exemplifies the concern that Trump should be feeling as his nomination draws near.

The way I see it, candidates need vocal and articulate surrogates to speak for them. Whether they’re running for president or county commissioner, candidates depend on the good will of others to push them forward.

Trump keeps trashing not only the Democrats who, naturally, are going oppose him but also Republicans who are reluctant to chime in with words of encouragement.

What did Trump say recently? Line up behind me or just “be quiet.”

Cotton has endorsed Trump. He’s being “quiet,” though, on explaining his reasons for the endorsement.

Tell us what you really think, Sen. Cotton


I will tell you up front I’m not fond of the tone of Sen. Tom Cotton’s critique of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s leadership.

But the freshman Arkansas Republican does make a tremendous point about the hypocrisy that abounds in the U.S. Senate in general and of the hypocrisy he said that Reid has demonstrated.

Cotton made a speech this week in which he condemned Reid’s “cancerous leadership” and wondered out loud how Reid could suggest that a defense bill was being shoved down the throats of senators after he had helped push through the Affordable Care Act — also in the middle of the night.

Check out the video of Cotton’s floor speech. It’s a stem winder.


According to Cotton, Reid has said senators haven’t had time to read the bill. Cotton also noted that many senators didn’t read the ACA, either, before approving it on a “party-line vote.”

“I’m forced to listen to the bitter, vulgar, incoherent ramblings of the minority leader,” Cotton said. “Normally, like every other American, I ignore them. I can’t ignore them today. . . . When was the last time the minority leader read a bill? It was probably an electricity bill.”

I have to agree with Cotton’s assessment of Reid’s effort to resist the defense bill.

Reid, who’s retiring from the Senate at the end of the year, at times has not distinguished himself while leading the Senate’s Democratic caucus. Although the junior senator from Arkansas’s tone was overly harsh — in my humble view — he does hit the bulls-eye in calling out the hypocrisy he finds in the minority leader’s leadership.

Sen. Cotton surely won’t aim his fire with nearly the precision he needs at those within his own caucus. I’m also quite certain his opponents on the other side of the Senate chamber will provide adequate response.


How can they live with themselves?


Lindsey Graham’s home state of South Carolina is in dire peril in the wake of record-setting floods.

The U.S. senator wants the federal government to assist his constituents in helping them recover from the tragedy … as he should.

Graham, a Republican candidate for president, wasn’t so generous when it came to providing aid to help Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey. He voted against that request.

Graham voted no on Sandy

He’s not alone.

Remember that tornado that tore through Joplin, Mo., in 2011? Then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Congress needed to cut money from other agencies to pay for the relief effort.

Tom Cotton was a Republican House member from Arkansas when the Sandy relief package came to a vote. He voted “no,” declaring that Arkansas shouldn’t have to bail out a Northeast state.

This kind of duplicitous thinking is common in Congress.

As for Graham, he’s just the latest in a long and infamous line of politicians who demand help for their own constituents while giving other Americans the back of their hand.


Who’s in charge of U.S. foreign policy?


U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., thinks it’s OK to travel abroad and to meet with a foreign head of government for the purpose of undermining a key foreign policy initiative.

It’s not OK. At least it’s never been acceptable … apparently until now in some circles.

Cotton went to Israel and Is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to figure out a way to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the United States and five other great powers.

Cotton’s meeting with Netanyahu now has become the norm, it seems, for critics of President Obama. They forget what they said when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Syria to meet with dictator Bashar al-Assad. Vice President Dick Cheney reminded us then that only the president can conduct foreign policy.

Except that Pelosi coordinated her visit with Bush administration officials and had made sure she didn’t interfere with what President Bush’s goals were as they regarded U.S. policy toward Assad.

Cotton said: “Today’s meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal. I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates.”

We’ve only got one president of the United States at a time. And at this moment, it isn’t Tom Cotton.


Bipartisanship returns to Senate

corker and cardin

Take a look at this picture.

You see two U.S. senators — Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland — yukking it up after the Senate approved a measure to require senatorial review of the Iranian nuclear deal worked out by the Obama administration with the mullahs in Iran.

Why is this picture so noteworthy? It’s because the measure passed 98-1 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner.

It’s not often these days you see Democratic and Republican congressional leaders standing side by side in front of cameras to bask in something they’ve done together.

They did so this week.

Good for them.

What’s brought the smiles to both men? It’s a measure that says the Senate gets to sign off on a treaty that administration officials hope to finalize later this spring or perhaps in early summer. It calls for Iran to scale back dramatically its nuclear development program and its aim is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon — which Israel says it intends to do and which no one this side of Tehran wants to occur.

It’s good that the Senate and the House will weigh in when the time comes.

According to RealClearPolitics.com, “The legislation gives Congress 30 days to review a deal once the full details are submitted to them. They then have the right to approve or disapprove of the deal, or do nothing, which would allow it to go forward. If they disapprove, President Obama can veto that measure, which would require 67 votes to override and actually halt an agreement, an unlikely outcome.”


The lone “no” vote came from upstart freshman Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the author of that letter that GOP senators sent to the Iranian mullahs threatening to void any treaty that President Obama signs.

Well, that’s Cotton’s view.

I prefer to hope that the Senate will deliberate this treaty carefully when it arrives on Capitol Hill.

I also prefer that it do so in the same bipartisan spirit it showed in approving the measure granting its authority to do so.

Now the House of Representatives will consider it. Follow the Senate lead, House members.

New folks hogging all the air time

Ted Cruz has done it. So has Tom Cotton. The two Republican senators,  from Texas and Arkansas, respectively, have managed to muscle their way onto our TV screens and into our local newspapers with their actions, even though they’ve been on the job such a short time.

Same with Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts. She’s been on the job about two years and she’s everyone’s go-to gal when the subject of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy comes up.


I posted a blog earlier this week about the late Edward Kennedy’s adherence to Senate tradition, how he didn’t make a floor speech until he’d been in office for a year.


All bets are off these days. The new folks are not bashful at all about hogging up media air time and space.

Cruz is running for president. Cotton drafted that letter to the Iranian mullahs and recommended they reject a nuclear deal worked out by the United States.

Now it’s Warren.

Didn’t she say she “is not a candidate for president” in 2016? Why are the media still digging around the roots of that story?

Is she going to challenge Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary or not? I thought she was declarative in her statement about not running. Oh, wait. She spoke in the present tense. “I am not running,” she said, if memory serves. That means the door is still slightly open for her to change her mind.

These new senators — and House members, too — are overshadowing the senior members.

Republican Orrin Hatch? He’s nowhere to be seen or heard. Democrat Barbara Boxer? She’s announced her impending retirement — and that’s been it. Republican Thad Cochran? He almost lost the GOP primary in Mississippi but got renominated on the strength of African-Americans who didn’t want the other guy to win. Democrat Patty Murray? She’s been as quiet as Hatch.

The new folks keep showing up. They’re everywhere.

The “new normal” in Washington is to let the newbies have the floor.


End of bipartisan foreign policy?

Leslie Gelb never has struck me as a crazed, left-wing ideologue.

He still doesn’t, but he’s written a piece for the Daily Beast that paints an extremely grim picture of one of the consequences of the Republican Gang of 47’s letter to the Iranian mullahs.

He said The Letter well might destroy bipartisan foreign policy, the kind envisioned by politicians of both parties until, well, just the other day.


The headline over Gelb’s essay says that Republicans “hate Obama more than nuclear Iran.”

“Hate” is one of those words our parents have told us we shouldn’t use. Yes, I’ve referred on my blog to “Obama haters,” and I regret the use of that term. I’ll only refer to prior use of it here.

Gelb, though, wonders whether The Letter signals the end of bipartisan foreign policy, the kind that compels politicians to rally around the president as he tries to negotiate deals with foreign leaders, prosecute conflicts, wage campaigns against terrorists, stared down our nation’s enemies.

The Gang of 47 sees it differently. They were led by a wet-behind-the-ears freshman senator, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who drafted The Letter that advised Iran that it should consider rejecting a nuclear prohibition treaty because it could be overturned when President Obama leaves office in January 2017.

The blowback against the senators has been ferocious. Even some Republicans are trying to back away from it.

Gelb writes: “What the 47 did was not a trivial matter or ‘a tempest in a teapot,’ as Senator John McCain has described it. It could well affect possible Iranian concessions in the end game. The ayatollahs could well conclude from that letter that concessions they might have made just aren’t worth it politically, as the agreement would go nowhere anyway. They’d be taking political risks for nothing.”

This interference in a president’s negotiation with a hostile foreign government is unconscionable. Teapot tempest? Hardly.

I hope Gelb is wrong about the future of bipartisan foreign policy. I fear, though, that he’s right.


GOP's letter to Iran? It's Obama's fault

You knew it would come to this, didn’t you?

Republican U.S. senators, trying to put some distance between themselves and what’s looking like a monumental cluster-bleep regarding The Letter that was sent to Iran regarding the nuclear negotiations, have done the impossible.

They’ve gone from irresponsible to ridiculous. They’re blaming President Obama for their decision to fire off that message to the Iranian mullahs, encouraging them to oppose any nuclear treaty that gets hammered out.


Blame Obama! That’s the ticket!

Here’s how the Huffington Post, which I concede isn’t a friend of the GOP, reported it: “Those who support the letter — even some who didn’t add their names — deflected the blame. If it weren’t for Obama’s failure to consult lawmakers about the negotiations, or his threatened veto of a proposed bill to give Congress the final vote on a nuclear agreement, senators wouldn’t have had to speak out in the first place, they argued.

“’I think that, no doubt, the fact that the president, you know, issued a veto threat on a very common-sense piece of legislation, probably evoked, you know, a good deal of passion,’ Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Huffington Post Tuesday. Corker, who is leading the push for a veto-proof majority on the bill to grant Congress oversight of a nuclear agreement, did not sign letter, which was organized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Nevertheless, he showed no signs of ill will toward his junior colleague.

“’No, no, no,’ Corker responded, when asked if he was concerned Cotton’s letter would cost the bill much-needed Democratic votes.”

There’s more on the link attached to this post, but you get the idea.

The Gang of 47 sent The Letter because President Obama didn’t consult with Republican lawmakers about the negotiations, the GOP line of defense goes.

I applaud Sen. Corker for remaining part of a dwindling Reasonable Republican Senate Caucus; he was one of seven GOP senators who didn’t sign The Letter.

However, his assertion — along with those who did sign the document — that this is Barack Obama’s fault is about as “funny” as the statement by GOP congressional aides reported in The Daily Beast that the senators were being “cheeky,” that they meant The Letter to be something of a joke.

I’m trying real hard right now to pick up the sound of laughter. I don’t hear anything.


Iranian hardliners find friends on Capitol Hill

Of all the criticism out there aimed at the Gang of 47 who signed The Letter to Iran, urging the mullahs to reject a nuclear deal with the United States, one point rings truer than the rest.

It is that The Letter has given ammunition to the hardline faction within the Iranian government to use against whatever the so-called “moderates” bring to any discussion on this matter.

Who would have thought that the hardline Iranian Islamic fundamentalists would find allies within the Republican majority that controls the United States Senate?

Roll that one around for a bit.

Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., drafted the letter and sent it to his GOP colleagues. Forty-six of them signed it, with seven Republicans declining to put their names on The Letter.

They’ve interfered directly with a sensitive U.S. negotiation with Iran over how to persuade the rogue nation to discontinue its nuclear development program. The Gang of 47 well might have broken U.S. law prohibiting such unauthorized negotiation with a foreign power, but the gang won’t be punished for it.

Conservatives think they’re doing the right thing. Liberals are angry with them for undermining the president of the United States, the secretary of state, and our allies who’ve joined us in seeking an end to the Iranian nuclear program.

And, yes, they’ve given the Iranian hardliners reason to smile today as they look toward the United States and see that members of our “loyal opposition” are proving to be not quite so loyal. They’ve turned a bipartisan U.S. foreign policy endeavor into a partisan contest.

The late, great Republican U.S. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, who coined the phrase that partisanship “ends at the water’s edge,” is spinning in his grave.