When political pundits complain about “the deficit,” they usually mean the trade or budget deficit. But there is a far bigger problem in our politics today: the trust deficit. Our government, our political parties, and elite institutions have so abused their authority that Americans have a hard time believing any public official anymore. That’s why, especially in the last few years as so many elites have lit their credibility on fire, Missourians have been lucky to have someone like Eric Schmitt working for them — and why he should be our next U.S. senator.
Schmitt has been in the news recently for his relentless work as Missouri’s attorney general protecting our state from unlawful mandates. Ever since the courts struck down the top-down directives made by county officials, Schmitt has been fighting to get recalcitrant local governments to abide by the ruling. Despite the evidence that top-down solutions are both ineffective in fighting COVID-19 and detrimental to children’s education and mental health, many school boards and local politicians insist they know better. As Missouri’s highest law enforcement officer, Schmitt has put his office in the service of children, parents, and the rule of law — exactly what we would want from an elected official, regardless of his party or politics.
Schmitt is one of a small handful of public servants who have seen their reputation improve over the last few years because he has stayed true to who he is. In an era when elected leaders’ records in office are unrecognizable to the campaigns they run, Schmitt has been a consistent, effective, fiscal conservative his whole career.
As a state senator, he authored legislation that cut taxes for workers and businesses, including phasing out the job-stifling franchise tax. He also developed bipartisan legislation to cap the amount of revenue local governments could raise via non-traffic fines (a subtle, insidious form of taxation).
As state treasurer, he launched the MO Able college savings program and spearheaded ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov. The website was part of Schmitt’s commitment to transparency in state budgeting. The site puts Missouri’s revenues, expenditures, payroll, cash flow, and the rest of its balance sheet out there for public scrutiny. Contrast this to Washington’s habit of passing multi-thousand page, multi-trillion-dollar spending bills in the middle of the night without anyone even reading them.
And in the last two years, Schmitt has brought that same citizen-first approach to his work as Missouri’s attorney general. In addition to protecting our homes and businesses from criminals, Schmitt has worked to help Missourians get through the pandemic as free and prosperous as we went into it. He urged the Biden administration to maximize state flexibility in allocating COVID relief funds — knowing that in a large, diverse nation, one-size-fits-all programs leave too many communities behind. He called on state policymakers to rethink regressive licensure regulations, which kill jobs and drive up prices without yielding the benefits they promise — and of course, which benefit credentialed elites at the expense of younger, less affluent, and disproportionately minority workers.
Throughout his career, Schmitt has also been a tireless advocate for greater educational opportunity. He understands that this is not about special privileges but equalizing opportunity for working parents and lower-income families. Schmitt supported legislation in the state Senate that gave families more educational options, and in 2019 joined other state attorneys general supporting Montana’s state scholarship program for religious schools.
Schmitt’s whole career has been dedicated to the principle that limited government is good government. Public safety and freedom, economic growth, and equal opportunity are not in tension, but mutually reinforcing. In Washington today, politics is too often about performance — about image and talking points, about assigning blame rather than taking responsibility. As a legislator, treasurer, and attorney general, Eric Schmitt has been honest, consistent, principled, and effective — exactly the qualities too often missing in Washington.
He has earned our trust, our respect, and Missourians support in the race to elect our next U.S. Senator.
Jeremy Cady is a senior advisor for Americans for Prosperity Action.