JEERS ... to Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both R-Idaho.
Gathered at the state Capitol last week, they promised to round up $7 billion for an endowment fund to help struggling schools in Idaho’s timber communities. That’s intended to safeguard school budgets that have suffered from the on-again, off-again Secure Rural Schools program that was meant to compensate them for the loss of U.S. Forest Service timber receipts.
As Risch said: “ ... This is a moral obligation to the United States of America.”
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
But where are they planning to get this money?
Good question. Because as soon as they got back to Washington, D.C., Crapo and Risch supported Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s bill to balance the budget with deep cuts.
According to Roll Call, Paul would slash spending $183.1 billion a year — and $11.3 trillion during a decade. Extend that across the board and it could mean throwing 39 million people off Medicare, 40 million people off Medicaid and 16 million off food stamps.
Of course, if Crapo and Risch were serious about cutting deficits and the national debt, they would not have voted in 2017 for the Trump administration’s plan to cut taxes — mostly on corporations and wealthy families. According to the Congressional Budget Office, that accounts for almost $1.9 trillion in added deficits during the next 10 years.
Paul’s plan was too radical for Republicans such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Thune of South Dakota. In fact, the measure failed 69-22.
But that wasn’t the point. Conservative groups such as Freedom Works and Club for Growth were watching.
So in Washington, D.C., these two are burnishing their conservative voting scorecards.
In Boise, they’re promising to spend more money.
Who do they think they’re fooling?
CHEERS ... to Whitman County Commissioner Michael Largent.
Rural communities such as Asotin, Garfield and Whitman counties are caught in a vise. Because they do not experience the robust new construction that is shoring up urban community budgets, these smaller counties labor under a tight 1 percent budget limitation. At the same time, the state of Washington continues to pile on unfunded mandates: higher salaries for some officials, more requirements for public defenders, environmental regulations and now, the installation of ballot drop boxes in a vote-by-mail state.
“The Legislature is the biggest inflationary factor in our cost of doing business,” Largent told the Tribune’s William L. Spence.
Keep in mind two pertinent facts:
First, state law forbids lawmakers from passing along the bills “for new programs or increased levels of service under existing programs.”
Second, while counties have been struggling under a 1 percent limit, lawmakers have increased their own spending during the past five years by about 50 percent. Yet they turned a deaf ear to county requests for help.
So Largent, second vice president of the Washington State Association of Counties, is willing to risk taking the state to court. Can you blame him?
JEERS ... to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Congressmen Russ Fulcher and Mike Simspon, both R-Idaho.
Following the party line, these three Republicans voted against helping the “Dreamers” — people brought to this country as young children who have never known another home.
Passed by the Democratic House, the measure would safeguard the status of about 2.5 million whose fate would otherwise rest in the hands of President Donald Trump if and when a series of court cases go his way.
Among them are the 674,000 young people who played by the rules and signed up for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as well as 1.5 million others who either did not apply for DACA or were too old to qualify. Another 400,000 people have fled nations stricken by natural disaster or internal strife and have been in this country legally since the George H.W. Bush administration.
Why would anyone oppose this?
It is not blanket amnesty. Dreamers would have to graduate from college, serve two years in the military or work full time and pass a criminal background check before beginning a 10-year process toward citizenship.
There’s a consensus behind it. Recent polling shows 77 percent support for this kind of legislation. Even 64 percent of Republicans agree with the concept.
These are not someone else’s kids. There are 3,100 Dreamers in McMorris Rodgers’ 5th Congressional District. In Fulcher’s 1st Congressional District, you’ll find 2,900. Simpson’s 2nd Congressional District has 5,200.
If party loyalty is the reason, how do you explain Washington Congressman Dan Newhouse? Among eight House Republicans who broke ranks, his was a voice of reason.
“I voted today to provide legal status for the many young people who are our teachers, nurses, firefighters and members of our military,” he said. “They are our neighbors and our friends and they have never known a home outside of the United States.”
JEERS ... to Idaho state Reps. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and John Green, R-Post Falls.
They’ve picked up where former state Sen. Dan “Don’t piss him off” Foreman left off. The one-term wonder from Moscow wanted women who underwent abortions to be charged with murder. Scott and Green tried much the same thing earlier this year. Their measure repealing a state law that prohibits prosecuting women and their doctors didn’t get very far.
But as the Idaho Statesman’s Cynthia Sewell reported, they’ll be back next year.
“I see these women on TV celebrating their abortions,” Green told a Hayden town hall meeting last month. “They are partying because they think they have this right to take a human life without consequences.”
Who knows how many people agree with them? The instant the Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, you’ll find out. — M.T.