• Andrus and Carlson

"I've long thought that Governor Andrus has never been given the full credit he deserved for the critical role he played in leading the way to passage of the greatest single piece of conservation legislation in American history. So I set out to make sure the history books properly reflect this excellent piece of his legacy." - Chris Carlson

Wing and a prayer

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When Senator Mike Crapo was campaigning for re-election last year one of his set talks was an eloquent plea for the nation returning to fiscal sanity and getting to balanced budgets so that we quit kicking the can of the spiraling upward unsustainable debt down the road to be be paid by future generations.

Crapo was one of the 18 members of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, a bipartisan effort by President Obama early in his first term and Congressional leadership whose purpose was to draw up a plan that through a combination of spending reductions and some modest tax hikes would over the next ten years pay down the deficit and get America on more solid economic footing.

Crapo received justifiably warranted praise for his constructive work and that work increased his reputation as a compassionate conservative deficit hawk. Unfortunately, the praise was premature for this past week the Senator succumbed to political expediency and endorsed the smoke and mirrors Republican purported tax cut plan that in reality is nothing less than a massive shift of further tax relief for the wealthiest one tenth of one percent at the expense of the middle class.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget office estimates that the plan will over ten years add $1.5 trillion to the national debt and seriously doubts the growth in the economy projections Crapo and his collegues cite as their reason for supporting this gift to the wealthy. It’s a classic “wish and a prayer” approach to public policy and ignores the consensus among the vast majority of economists that the GOP is living a pipe dream.

Senator Crapo also is ignoring the strongly expressed opinions of his former Senate colleague, Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairs of the Reform Commission.

In a joint op-ed to the Washington Post, the co-chairs wrote: “With debt already twice as high as the historical average, financing tax cuts with even more borrowing is reckless. And the actual bills in the House and Senate are even worse than the $1.5 trillion sticker price—-because both include about a half-trillion dollars in phony savings from artificial “sunsets” and other gimmicks. With interest that means these tax cuts could add $2.2 trillion to the debt.”

They went on to write further “If the tax cuts in the current bill are adopted, deficits would exceed one trillion dollars by 2020 and debt would exceed 99 per cent of GDP by 2027. Economic growth isn’t going to wash away this debt. Real tax reform can provide a boost to the economy but higher debt works in the opposite direction. This country cannot afford another debt-busting tax cut.”

Pretty straight talking, fact-based language. For someone like Senator Crapo it should have been cause for a pause and a thoughtful re-examination of the largely political position he was assuming despite holding the safest seat in the U.S. Senate.

So it comes down to who does one believe: former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson or Senator Mike Crapo? Both are Republicans, both radiate sincerity, both believe they have the best interests of the nation at heart.

One of them though is hypocritical and expedient. And only one is still a sitting member of Congress. And only one of them is gambling that despite all odds this taxpayer give away to the rich won’t further add to the high probablity of a decreasing standard of living for his grandchildren stuck with paying the bill for his profligacy.

If Senator Crapo had a conscience he would recognize he has no skin in the game, and he has no risk because the bill will come due after he is out of office. He should go back to every one of the 200 cities and burgs he visited while campaigning last year and apologize for not being the fiscal deficit hawk he claimed to be.

It is also obvious that he will never rate a chapter in a new edition of Profiles in Courage.

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