Someone who was not even on the November 4th ballot: Idaho’s senior U.S. Senator, Mike Crapo. The reasons are many.
With Republicans gaining control of the Senate, the Senator’s seniority places him in a position to exert ever more influence on America’s fiscal policies, its huge debt, its subsidy-riven hodge-podge of tax loopholes otherwise known as incentives, and its financial institutions..
Because of some quirks in the Senate’s arcain seniority system the former Idaho Falls State senator will have to wait two years before becoming a full committee chair. Republicans actually term limit senators who become committee chairs to six years in holding the chairmanship of a committee.and they can only chair one major committtee at a time.
So even though Senator Crapo is the ranking Minority Member on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions has more seniority and has two years of being a chairman of some committee left on his tenure sheet.
Senator Crapo’s growing power is the result both of his intelligence and his hard work. His other committees include the Budget, Environment and Public Works committee as well as the Finance committee. These committees place him at the very vortex of an issue he rightly feels is still to be address----controlling the nation’s profligate spending and laying out a path to reduce the debt and eventually put the country back on a pay as you go basis.
Crapo played a critical non-partisan negotiating role while serving on the Presidential Task Force headed up by former Clinton Chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson that listened to all sorts of experts and then cobbled together recommendations that would stave off fiscal disaster.
Crapo, along with fellow Senators Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma chose couragiously to brave the wrath of the Republican hard core right by acknowledging that a part of the path forward would have to include some small amount of revenue enhancements. To Grover Norquist that spelled a tax increase and no matter how critical some amount would be needed along with the spending cuts as part of the “we all have to swallow some castor oil and sacrifice something” plan, all three were heavily criticized for putting the nation’s interests ahead of a party interest. Can you imagine that?
All three deserve their own chapter in a new edition of Profiles in Courage. (more…)