DJEERS ... to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho.
Their political pandering will fool nobody. These two are deficit hawks no longer. More than 1½ years ago, they became budget peacocks.
McMorris Rodgers and Risch find themselves in the unique position of having blown up the nation’s budget deficits by supporting the 2017 tax cut bill — which the Congressional Budget Office credits with adding $1.9 trillion to the national debt in the next decade — while opposing the current budget package on the grounds that most of its $320 billion in new spending will be borrowed.
In other words, they were willing to face a government shutdown and a default on the national debt to create the illusion that they still care one whit about deficits and debt.
Of course, they had the luxury of voting irresponsibly because their view was never going to prevail.
All the key parties — the White House, the Senate Republican leadership and the House Democratic majority — were on board with this package. Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, — both of whom voted for the 2017 tax cuts — swallowed hard and voted for this must-pass legislation. So did Washington Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, but then, they opposed the GOP tax cuts.
Congressman Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, opposed the budget deal. But he wasn’t in Congress when the tax package was on the floor.
While visiting Asotin this week, McMorris Rodgers offered this feeble explanation: “Both parties have over-spent. ... That’s why we need a balanced budget amendment. We need something that will force Congress to make the hard decisions.”
Who needs a constitutional amendment to say no to tax cuts financed by Chinese banks?
DJEERS ... to Idaho Freedom Foundation Vice President Fred Birnbaum.
Doubling down on his organization’s assault on diversity programs at Boise State University, Birnbaum wants to block Dreamers — children of undocumented workers who were brought to this country through no fault of their own — from qualifying for Idaho’s Opportunity Scholarship.
“We believe that it is an important public policy issue to prioritize Idahoans who are U.S. citizens to receive these limited Opportunity Scholarship dollars,” he said.
If he gets his way, the consequences could be chilling.
Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program launched in 2012, Dreamers are legal residents of this country. With the government’s encouragement, they came forward and secured legal status provided they held jobs or attended classes.
Although Congress has failed to act, 90 percent of Americans say they would support legal protection for these young people.
So, under the law, these Dreamers are legal Idaho residents. If they graduated from an Idaho high school, they are entitled to apply for an Opportunity Scholarship.
Last year, 4,083 Idaho students secured one of these $3,500 scholarships. With the $7 million expansion lawmakers approved this year, another 2,000 will get help.
That’s not enough for everyone who qualifies. But to suggest every Dreamer who gets an Opportunity Scholarship is depriving an Idaho citizen of financial aid is a stretch.
There are only 3,132 Dreamers in Idaho. How many are of college age? How many are attending school? And how many actually got a state scholarship?
A handful at best.
So what is Birnbaum suggesting here?
That an Idaho Dreamer is less deserving of an education?
Or that DACA be eliminated and some of Idaho’s young people be deported to countries they have never known?
It’s hard to believe Birmbaum could be that cruel.
But never let the facts get in the way of a good fundraising letter.
CCHEERS ... to Congressman Simpson.
Speaking to the Idaho Falls City Club Wednesday, Simpson said Dreamers should be granted citizenship. What a marked contrast with the IFF’s Birnbaum.
“This is the only country they’ve ever known, and I think the humanitarian thing to do is to give them citizenship,” he said. “That makes sense to me.”
Simpson has called for legal status for most undocumented workers in the U.S. He doesn’t think the nation needs a wall along its entire southern border. And he has no quarrel with people who seek a better life by coming here.
Every time Simpson talks this way, he invites fire from a political base that is getting stoked up with racist and xenophobic tweets from its highest levels.
“The problem is, Republicans fear that no matter what you do, someone is going to start screaming ‘amnesty,’ ” Simpson said. “And if you don’t know, in a Republican primary, that (can be) devastating. I know that. I’ve been accused of that.”
DJEERS ... to House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.
He’s resurrecting the Republican Party’s attempt to restore gerrymandering in the Gem State by giving the GOP a 4-3 edge on the citizen commission that aligns legislative and congressional districts with population growth. Today, that six-member commission is split evenly between both parties.
“There are a lot of people that think the seventh seat should look a lot like a Republican and I agree on that,” Bedke told a Twin Falls audience last week.
More than two decades ago, two-thirds of Idaho lawmakers and 64 percent of Idaho voters decided to minimize partisanship and personal political ambition in how those district lines are drawn. By and large, the process has worked — especially when the GOP’s appointees acted in good faith. Meanwhile, in that same time, the GOP has gone from a majority party to the only game in town. Back in the 1990s, Democrats held the governor’s office, at least a third of the state Senate, a couple of state offices and a congressional seat or two.
Now they’re down to seven of 35 seats in the Senate and 14 of 70 seats in the House.
Is Bedke so determined to gerrymander Sen. David Nelson, D-Moscow, out of his seat and to possibly drive another eight or nine Democrats from legislative office?
Then what? Will Republicans start eating their own? — M.T.