CCHEERS ... to U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
When it came to the whistle blower complaint that President Donald Trump sought dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden from Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, the 26-year Capitol Hill veteran’s response was measured and responsible:
“... As to the question of impeachment, our entire legal system is dependent on our ability to find the truth. I will wait for further information regarding the facts of this matter and refrain from speculating on any outcomes of this discussion and process.”
Crapo’s experience — as a House member in 1998, he voted to impeach President Bill Clinton; then as a newly installed senator the following year, he voted to convict Clinton — may explain why he’s staying above the fray. He understands the the role he’ll play if the House impeaches Trump and forwards the case to a Senate trial.
What could be more reasonable? But the Harvard-trained attorney’s due diligence is conspicuous among Republicans who have already declared Trump the victim of a smear.
From Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, you get more of the deference that has made the Foreign Relations Committee chairman the lead Trump sycophant in the Senate: “ ... The Democratic members in the House haven’t shown us anything that meets the standard and are prioritizing politics over facts.”
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., accuses House Democrats of “jumping to unfounded conclusions” and then suggests she will review the facts “before making any decisions on what’s best for the American people.” Talk about having it both ways.
Still in his first year in office, Congressman Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, could have remained untethered from the mistakes of the past. But he, too, is reading from the GOP talking points: “Since the day President Trump was elected to office, this has been the Democrats’ strategy.”
Most disappointing of all, however, is Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. The typically independent 2nd District congressman is toeing the party line here: “To date, I have seen nothing that warrants impeachment.”
Whereever this story goes, this much you already know: Risch, McMorris Rodgers, Fulcher and Simpson said what Trump wanted to hear.
Crapo did not.
DJEERS ... to freshman Idaho state Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton.
In an interview with Breitbart News last weekend, Nichols accused Idaho’s higher education system of indoctrinating young people, parroted the discredited line about diversity programs at Boise State University and threatened to cut off state support of that institution.
“We have these kids that we’re paying to be educating and they’re being indoctrinated,” Nichols said. “ ... I really believe that we need to start taking the money away when we have this sort of stuff transpiring in our education system — if we don’t like what’s going on, then maybe we shouldn’t be funding it.”
Nichols was among 27 House Republicans who signed Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt’s letter that targeted diversity programs at BSU. Much of that criticism has been discredited. There is no separate commencement ceremony for any group — and much of the money for diversity programs comes from private entities.
But Nichols took things even further over the line.
For instance, you get indoctrinated in a boot camp. You’re told what to do, when to do it and how.
How does a college English literature, Western civilization or even American history class sway anyone to the right, left or center? If anything is the antithesis of indoctrination, it’s exposure to new ideas, analytical thinking, research skills and expanded horizons.
Assume Nichols gets her way and the state’s ever-shrinking financial support for colleges and universities is scaled back further.
Who gets hurt?
Students who can afford it will pay tuition.
Students who can’t will be shut out.
And the state’s under-trained workforce remains woefully unable to meet the needs of Idaho’s modern economy.
CCHEERS ... to Idaho Gov. Brad Little.
He’s pouring cold water on the idea of billing local property taxpayers for the cost of expanding Medicaid to low-income Idaho adults.
“(The) Legislature writes the laws, I don’t,” Little told the annual conference of the Idaho Association of Counties Monday. “But last time I saw, local property taxes go to people in this room and not the state.”
A couple of weeks ago, a legislative panel voted to raid about $10 million in county funds to help cover the state’s $42 million share of the program. The irony here is that the GOP-led Legislature’s refusal to implement Medicaid as the voters authorized in last year’s successful campaign will drive up costs. Imposing a work requirement on Medicaid beneficiaries would require more state bureaucracy to enforce it. So in other words, the panel would have county budgets subsidizing that effort.
And if the work requirement winds up depriving people of Medicaid coverage, they will rely on the property tax-supported county medically indigent program.
Little’s skepticism seems rooted in something more fundamental: the counties pay for county programs; the state covers its own bills.
“I’d be a little dubious, because I think we can fund it the way we’ve got it now,” Little said, noting the state has covered initial Medicaid expansion costs through savings and the Millennium Fund. “I don’t see any big land grab for all your property taxes.”
CCHEERS ... to Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Simpson.
There were among 91 House Republicans who joined Democrats in opening the nation’s financial system to the burgeoning marijuana industry.
Among the 102 Republicans voting no was Congressman Fulcher.
Because cannabis remains illegal under federal law, the banks risk prosecution by working with the industry in states where it is legal. Dealing in cash has exposed those entities to robberies and the temptation toward tax evasion.
Joining in support for the bill were 30 attorneys general and 20 state governors.
For McMorris Rodgers, this was an easy vote. Recreational marijuana cultivation, sales and use is legal in Washington.
But Idaho takes a hard line against marijuana — even though it is virtually surrounded by states that allow it for recreational or medicinal use. So give Simpson points for taking a broader view. — M.T.