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The real Idaho winner from 2014

carlson CHRIS


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.

In an exclusvie interview by phone on election night, the Idaho Falls attorney, a graduate of Brigham Young and of Harvard Law, displayed the intelligence and common sense that has some touting him as the first Mormon ever to be hopefully nominated and confirmed in a seat on the Supreme Court. Given his Senate experience should the Republicans capture the presidency in 2016, Crapo would have to be a serious candidate for Secretary of the Treasury.

While Crapo was careful to tun aside questions asking him to speculate, he did offer several opinions:

*He thought Minority Leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, would easily be selected as the next Majority Leader despite noise from Texas Senator Ted Cruz that there might be a challenge.
*Said the Republicans, in a gensture of comity to the Democrats, would restore the 60 votes needed to cut off debate rule on presidential nominations.
*Said the Republicans would get a budget passed and to the White House in part because there is a desire to avoid the sequestration aspects of the prior budget agreement. He also opined that a bill endorsing the XL Pipeline would be sent to the President because there were many Democratic Senators that supported it as well as Republicans.
*The Senator also stated unequivocally that Second District Congressman Mike Simpson ought to be given the eight months he has requested from the Administration to get his Boulder/White Clouds legislation passed in the House and onto the Senate.

On that subject Crapo maintained he still had an open mind but strongly felt a new concensus had to be established among all the parties similar to the Owyhee Wild Lands legislaiton he negotiated a few years ago. He also thought a successful conclusion to that kind of process could win over a skeptical Senator Jim Risch and an opposed newly re-elected governor.

He said he strongly opposed the Obama Administration at the behest of former Governor Cecil Andrus and the Idaho Conservation League imposing a National Monument in the area.

The collaborative process is the only way to achieve a result acceptable to those who would the neighbors of the protected Boulder/White Clouds, he said, and without a renewed buy-in he and Risch would remain adamant in their opposition.

While Andrus and the League have great respect for Senator Crapo, it is clear they see no way other than a monument declaration from the President to achieve the desired protection. Simpson may get his eight months but if there’s no bill as the end of the Obama Administration approaches in 2016, there will be a new national monument.

Crapo is of course on the ballot in 2016, but again, he’ll be a big winner. He may even run unopposed as he did in 2004.

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