How do you spell “hypocrisy?” I spell it J-i-m-R-i-s-c-h.
For years now, Idaho’s junior U.S. Senator has been preaching that “[t]he overreaching issue is the financial condition of the country.” In a March 12, 2016, column in the Idaho Statesman, Risch lamented that the national debt had risen by about $10 trillion in the preceding ten years.
When our national debt reached $20 trillion, Risch issued a statement bemoaning the fact that “each dollar added to our debt is a dollar lost from critical investments in American roads, bridges, healthcare, schools, and other essential services.”
Of course, it’s not like Risch has a record of supporting investment in critical infrastructure and other essential services, but it’s a nice thought.
Now the Senate is poised to vote on a so-called tax reform plan that most major economists doubt will grow the economy, as its supporters promise. Moreover, the non-partisan Tax Policy center has found that the tax cuts will not pay for themselves through growth. Instead of being revenue neutral, the cuts, once implemented, will likely result in a massive revenue loss.
Pouring salt in the wound, the Senate Finance Committee has announced that its plan will include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate that would likely leave 13 million Americans uninsured. And now the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate GOP's tax plan would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.
So who will reap the largesse of this slipshod scheme? Why those who need it least – the mega corporations and the ultra-rich, people like Jim Risch who boasts about being one of the wealthiest U.S. Senators. Just how much would this plan boost his bottom line? I’m betting he’ll see quiet a windfall.
Some deficit hawks, like Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., have the courage of their convictions and don’t try to sugarcoat things. Flake recently released a statement expressing concern that "the current tax reform proposals will grow the already staggering national debt,” and cautioning that, were it to do so, our economy would be threatened. But unlike Flake, Risch appears ready – if not eager – to abandon his long-touted concerns about the debt in order to help Trump notch a “win.”
The Greek philosopher Diogenes is said to have carried a lamp everywhere in search of “one honest man.” He could have found that honest man in South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham who candidly admitted that the Republican obsession with tax cuts for the uber-rich comes down to keeping the GOP in power by ensuring that the donor spigot keeps flowing. There’s not much in the way of principle in that remark, but at least it’s honest.
Dishonest Jim Risch has for years portrayed himself as some kind of fiscal champion but his concern for the national debt has proven short-lived. Sadly, he has shown himself to be a hypocrite of the first order, and an embarrassment to the state of Idaho.