The Idahoans who called into U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo’s town hall teleconference Wednesday night, May 22, virtually all expressed concerns about the federal government’s increasingly intrusive actions that they fear are eroding their constitutional rights.
The nation’s debt crisis, the Internal Revenue Service, Obamacare, illegal immigration, the U.S. Farm Bill and gun control were among the hot button topics touched upon during the hour long call-in event.
Crapo noted that the U.S. national debt now approaches $17 trillion with Washington doing little to brake torrid deficit spending. “Entitlement programs all are screaming toward insolvency. We have a significant battle in front of us the next few months,” he said. “We’re seeing one-to-two trillion dollars in new taxes hitting the American people.”
President Obama successfully has pushed dozens of taxing and spending increases via different bills without tax and entitlement reforms getting enacted, the Republican said, noting there is a tremendous amount of gridlock in the nation’s capital.
“Our Social Security is going full speed toward insolvency, which means not just our children and grandchildren, but everybody … is going to see their benefits dramatically reduced,” Crapo said. Medicare also is heading for bankruptcy sooner than Social Security, and Medicaid is not far behind.
The “unfair, complex and expensive” U.S. tax code badly needs reform, he said, adding tax rates could be lowered by broadening the tax base and eliminating abusive tax loopholes.
Crapo served on the Bowles-Simpson National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and was among the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators charged with resolving the debt ceiling crisis. He also serves on Senate banking and finance committees.
Crapo said he grilled Treasury Secretary Jack Lew about whether the IRS’ income tax audits of hundreds of conservative political and religious groups was politically motivated. Lew appeared before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Noting he has called for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal, Crapo said: “I will do everything I can to stop this from being covered up.” Both Democrat and Republican senators “are not going to drop this any time soon until we get to the bottom of this,” he added, saying deep layers are involved.
Crapo predicted an independent prosecutor also will be engaged to determine the truth of what happened Sept. 11, 2012, when an American ambassador and three other Americans were murdered at the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. He accused the Obama administration of conducting a “complete disinformation campaign” to deny it was an act of terror.
“The House of Representatives will not let this slide and will investigate to the fullest extent,” he said.
When a man from Spirit Lake said he is worried about the IRS enforcing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” after the IRS was shown to target conservatives on an enemies list. “This is like a death sentence,” he said, wondering if the IRS will determine who gets life-saving medical treatment.
“You raise a very serious concern,” Crapo said, explaining although the legislation does not give the IRS the ability to control doctors, it does put the federal agency in charge of enforcing compliance and creates an entirely new division, requiring the hiring of “thousands and thousands of new IRS agents.”
The IRS will collect, maintain and monitor information on all Americans to make sure they obtain appropriate health care insurance. “I personally believe this is another huge intrusion by the federal government. It adds insult to injury.”
The senator reassured one senior Pocatello citizen that people who turn 70 will not lose their medical care or be refused treatment under Obamacare.
In response to a question posed by a Boisean, Crapo said “another huge overreach occurring at the federal government level” is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was “passed by the president and his allies to establish an entire new regulatory regime.”
The bureau’s jurisdiction includes banks, credit unions, insurance companies, securities firms, pay day lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services and other financial companies. Obama’s controversial appointment during last January’s congressional recess of Richard Cordray to direct the CFPB has drawn fire from Republicans, who challenge its constitutionality.
Without an executive board, only one individual directs the bureau, which issues its own rules, does not report to Congress and boasts a direct line to hundreds of millions of Federal Reserve dollars. Crapo mentioned he is sponsoring legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, which he said has never been audited. “The bottom line is the United States should control its own currency.”
The CFPB is collecting information about credit card, bank account and mortgage transactions, Crapo said. “It has been collecting financial information on individual Americans. … I hope Americans across the country start speaking up about this.”
When asked how citizens can make a difference, Crapo suggested contacting their congressional delegates, joining large organizations that support their beliefs and sounding off on social media sites. “Grassroots politics really does still work.”
Crapo agreed with one man who said new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulations hurt middle class borrowers. “As we have approached the mortgage crisis in the country, the solutions in some cases seem to be backwards,” he said, adding he hopes reforms will be in effect within the next several months. “If we don’t fix this, we could go right back into another mortgage crisis.”
Crapo said he has not decided yet how he will vote on the pending Farm Bill and 840-page immigration reform bill until he can study their details. The Farm Bill is critically important to many Idahoans, and “all Americans are aware we face an immigration crisis in America,” he said, adding he wants to ensure that illegal aliens do not take jobs and benefits from U.S. citizens.
A woman in Boise said she is concerned that millions of people who have come illegally into the United States will become eligible for federal benefits, including food stamps, welfare and earned income tax credits paid for by American taxpayers. Crapo also was asked if food stamps will be cut drastically under the new Farm Bill.
Crapo said he strongly opposes gun control legislation introduced in the Senate that would deprive Americans of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. He said record ammunition purchases by federal agencies are “raising a lot of eyebrows” and have caused shortages for law enforcement.
On a personal note, Crapo said his election campaign’s recently disclosed inadvertent loss of $250,000 was very discouraging and distressing. He said law enforcement authorities were notified and steps taken to ensure such an incident never recurs.Share on Facebook