CHEERS ... to Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
It’s been 30 years since an Idaho politician — in that case, the late former Gov. Cecil D. Andrus — was willing to lead on the issue of salmon and steelhead preservation.
Everyone has kept their heads down until Simpson entered the fray, starting with this frank assessment: The region can not have both fish and dams on the lower Snake River. He’s choosing the fish and calling for the breaching of the four dams.
“I want to be clear that I’m not certain removing these dams will restore Idaho’s salmon and prevent their extinction, but I am certain that if we do not take this course of action, we are condemning Idaho’s salmon to extinction,” he said.
At the heart of his massive $33 billion plan to hold stakeholders harmless is one of the most globally significant wildlife restoration projects in history — potentially affecting the ecology of an area extending from Redfish Lake in central Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains to the Gulf of Alaska.
Say what you will about the details — and they are by no means fixed — Simpson’s plan gives the region a chance to take charge of its own destiny, rather than leaving its future to the courts, economics or biology.
The one accusation you can’t make against Simpson is political expediency. There is nothing here but risk for the veteran congressman. For proof, look no further than Lewiston freshman Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger’s Facebook post:
“ ... With his announcement, Mike Simpson has shown his true colors as a traitor to the people of the great state of Idaho, who has repeatedly put Idaho last on issue after issue. Make no mistake, this plan will destroy Idaho as we know it, and I won’t stand for it.
“Therefore, as your District 6 representative, I hereby call on Congressman Mike Simpson to immediately resign from his position in Congress. He is an absolute disgrace who clearly cannot be trusted to do what’s best for our state. ...”
Pardon us, Rep. von Ehlinger.
But consider former President Teddy Roosevelt’s admonition that the “credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, ... who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
JEERS ... to U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
Well, that was quick.
Without a hint of contrition and repentance, Crapo has suddenly reacquainted himself with the federal budget deficit — just weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency.
Democrats’ plan to spend $1.9 trillion to defeat COVID-19 and resuscitate the pandemic-stricken economy is too expensive, Crapo says.
But when Republicans were in charge, deficits didn’t matter so much to Crapo. Three years ago, he threw caution to the wind — and disregarded the warnings of the Concord Coalition as well as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — by supporting former President Donald Trump’s massive tax giveaway to corporations and upper-income families.
In contrast to COVID-19 relief — which while costly is by and large a one-time expenditure — the damage from Crapo’s tax vote goes on and on. Even before the coronavirus leveled the economy, the Congressional Budget Office documented the measure would add $1.9 trillion to the deficits by 2028. That’s assuming tax cuts on individuals and small businesses expire in 2025.
To make things worse, Crapo last week tried to extend those tax cuts indefinitely, which would have added hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt — a bid that failed by a 50-50 tie.
As one former Senate staffer quipped: There is no point of order for hypocrisy.
JEERS ... to U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho.
The verdict on former President Trump’s impeachment legal defense team — Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David I. Schoen — is in.
How bad were they?
So bad that CNN says Trump himself was “screaming” at this TV while Castor was speaking to the Senate.
So bad that Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., switched sides and voted to proceed: “President Trump’s team were disorganized. They did everything they could but talk about the question at hand.”
So bad that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Castor’s performance “a prosecutor’s dream come true.”
So bad that one of Trump’s lawyers from his first impeachment trial, Alan Dershowitz, said: “I have no idea what he’s doing. I have no idea why he’s saying what he’s saying.”
So bad that pundit Charlie Sykes — no fan of the ex-president — could get away with renaming Trump’s defense team “the eminent firm of Ramble, Blather, and Shout, LLC.”
But here was Risch telling Boise radio station KBOI that the legal team “hit the ball out of the park.”
Don’t tell us Risch was snoozing through this impeachment trial, too.
JEERS ... to state Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Iona.
As you can see here, Christensen was holding up “bunny ears” behind Rep. Randy Armstrong, R-Inkom, during yje House debate on Rexburg Republican Jon Weber’s bill to halt publication of legal notices and thereby put Idaho weekly newspapers out of business.
Christensen supported the bill.
Armstrong, who said the measure would make it “much, much more difficult for the average citizen to find these legal notices, ...” voted with the majority in defeating the measure.
After House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, admonished Christensen for his latest lapse in judgment, the Iona Republican apologized — but not before predicting the “media may spin this negatively, shocker.”
Why hire an adult and offer him taxpayer-provided health insurance, a pension, a salary of more than $18,600 plus $139 per day to cover living expenses during the session for this kind of stunt?
For the price of a Coke and Snickers bar, you can get any second grader to do it. — M.T.