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Posts published in “Malloy”

Leadership concerns

Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher is a self-described optimist, but he has trouble putting a smiley face to what he’s seeing on the national level.

“I think this is the most reflective time in America since the Civil War, and surely in my lifetime,” he told me. “We have a serious leadership void.”

Fulcher says the void is more on the Democratic end, with a president who looks ready for an assisted-living facility. But he just as well could be talking about Republicans, who have their own (near) 80-year-old vying for the White House. Former President Trump, the far-away frontrunner for the GOP nomination, is facing multiple federal and state indictments. His campaign – and presidency, if he wins – could be marred with endless court hearings, perhaps more indictments and lord knows how many more impeachments.

“That’s a valid concern,” Fulcher acknowledges.

But in Fulcher’s mind, it’s worse on the Democratic side. “Our current president, I strongly believe, is not at his full capacity, and our vice president is lacking for acumen for the job.”

So, there you have it, folks. The “real” choice in the next election is what form of rat poison you’d prefer to ingest. One side offers the liquid form, and the other gives the powder version. Both taste awful – and equally deadly.

During the August recess, Fulcher offered some sage advice to his political friends in Idaho. “Keep a strong ship at home, because the federal ship is being rocked for all the wrong reasons.”

The mess is not going to be cleared up anytime soon.

As indictments roll in like a mountain top avalanche, the question that Fulcher and his fellow Republicans is: How hard would prosecutors be pushing if Trump were not the leading candidate for the nomination.

“If Trump was not the leading candidate for the Republican nomination,” Fulcher says, “would anybody give a rat’s behind about what’s at his home in Mar-aLago?”

And would Georgia officials be gung-ho to prosecute Trump if he had quietly ridden to the sunset after the 2020 election?

Fulcher does not defend Trump for carting home boxes of classified materials, or his call to the Georgia secretary of state asking that election results there be overturned. “I think my message has been clear – Trump is not a choir boy,” Fulcher says. “And I am not making excuses for anyone.”

But to Fulcher and his friends, corruption doesn’t end with Trump … there are issues with Biden and his son, Hunter, that should be explored. It could come to the point where House Speaker Kevin McCarthy calls for an “impeachment inquiry” to get to the bottom of the Hunter Biden matter.

“This would be an inquiry, and not an impeachment,” Fulcher says. “That would give some investigative tools we don’t have. McCarthy’s position is the DOJ has been so aggressive with its investigation of Trump, but they won’t share information about Hunter Biden. I believe we have corruption on multiple levels in our intelligence community, and it needs to be cleaned up. There essentially was an autopsy on the CIA during the ‘70s and I think that needs to happen again – with an autopsy of the DOJ and FBI. This corruption is not just with Democratic administrations, it goes way back.”

In the meantime, good luck to those agencies in getting full appropriations from the House. “The power of the purse is the only tool we have,” the congressman says. “The FBI is not going to get its full appropriation, and there will be a motion to zero out (director) Christopher Ray’s salary. I’m not saying it will pass, but there will be a motion. There will be things in the administration’s budget that will be held hostage unless there is a certain amount of cooperation.”

So, don’t look for anything substantive on high gas prices, oppressive inflation, national security, border control or the budget deficit.

Of course, we will have an election next year and Fulcher (for now) is staying neutral. At this point, there’s not much suspense. Voters will be stuck with the same cast of characters who are pushing the country over a cliff.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


Those far-right extremists

When Republican Sen. Tammy Nichols of Middleton reads the words, “far-right extremists,” in a political commentary, she knows that the side she generally represents won the debate.

“They have already lost the argument, so it’s not worth my time to try to bring any kind of logical conversation into the discussion,” she told me. “(The writers) are going from trying to have a conversation to getting personal about it.”

She has a point. Influence peddlers who employ labels essentially are speaking to the choir – those who agree that those far-right extremists are a menace to society. But name-calling mostly does nothing to sway people on the right.

“I call it label lynching. It’s when they disagree with you, but don’t have a solid argument, so they label you. It was a tactic used during the times of Karl Marx, or Nazi Germany when they attacked the Jews. When I hear that (far-right extremist), and it’s directed at me, it reinforces to me that I’m on the right track,” Nichols said.

“What we’ve learned is that the name-calling and bullying we heard on the school playground has not ended. People grow up, but they bring some of the names with them.”

I remember those rough days on the playgrounds in Osburn. Here was one of the stoppers: “Oh, yeah. Well, your mother wears Army boots.” Fast forward some 60 years and it’s “right-wing extremists,” or “fake news” media.

There’s nothing new about name-calling in politics. From the conservative side of the fence, any Republican that doesn’t score high on the Idaho Freedom Foundation index is labeled a “RINO.” Former President Donald Trump, the pride of the GOP, has turned name-calling into an art form.

During my early days of political reporting in Idaho, writers often used the term “ultra-conservative” to arbitrarily describe those who were perceived to be to the right (or far right) of center. Of course, that term applied only to Republicans; Democrats were never branded as “ultra-liberals” or “liberals” in general.

“When somebody calls me a far-right extremist, I throw back the question. ‘What does that mean?’ And they can’t define it,” Nichols says. “Is a far-right extremist someone who upholds the constitution, believes in limited government, or stands up for people’s rights? Those are the things I stand for. So, I don’t accept the label.”

In the Idaho Statesman recently, an editorial suggested that far-right extremists ran off a Post Falls educator, Karen Lauritzen, who was selected as Idaho’s teacher of the year. The teacher apparently had friendly views toward the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter, transgender rights and the United Nations agenda.

Not surprisingly, Nichols had a different view than the Statesman’s editorial board. “They used the term far-right extremists, but they didn’t label the teacher as anything for pushing a radical agenda. She wasn’t labeled as a far-left extremist. But they tell you about these right-wing extremists without telling you who they are or why they are extremists. If the teacher doesn’t fit in with Idaho, then I say good riddance. But those concerns are not just in Idaho. There are plenty of parents everywhere who are riled up with the LGBTQ and transgender agenda pushes that are happening in education.”

The Statesman apparently has its own idea about what’s “radical” in the political world. But it’s probably closer to “mainstream” within the Idaho Republican Party, which largely has been taken over by conservatives. That transformation has been by design. In Nichols’ view, conservatives worked hard on the grassroots levels of the GOP, while the so-called establishment was “asleep at the wheel.” The efforts resulted in former Rep. Dorothy Moon taking over as the party chair and former congressional candidate Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls moving in as national committeeman.

“The establishment wants to maintain the status quo, but that’s what has been causing the demise in some states,” Nichols says. “Colorado is an example of what can happen in a few short years. People were not engaged and not on the ground educating voters, getting people to run for office, taking stances and being vocal. Those that are doing this are being labeled as right-wing extremists.”

Those “extremists” might be an election or two from being the undisputed “mainstream” in Idaho. Editorial and column writers might think about visiting some school playgrounds for fresh name-calling material.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


That jobless report

An unemployment rate of anything under 3 percent is like music to a politician’s ear, especially to those lucky enough to sit in the Oval Office or a governor’s chair.

So, strike up the band with Happy Days are Here Again, and there will be no shortage of politicians lining up to take credit for a rate that’s in the range of 2.7 percent. Let’s celebrate with a statewide hoedown, and bring along some Tennessee cloggers to add to the flavor.

Now for the buzzkill … you knew that was coming. There’s always someone in the crowd who will put a reality check on any kind of good news. This comes from a longtime friend, Suzanne Budge, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. For certain, an unemployment rate that’s under 3 percent is the definition of full employment in any economics book. But Budge tells me that’s no comfort to Main Street business owners who are struggling to find workers at all skill levels.

In other words, people don’t want to work anymore. And this is not through lack of effort by employers who have raised wages significantly and have practically begged people to work.

“It’s very gloomy,” she said. “The struggle is that the workforce has not come back since the pandemic. We have the lowest workforce participation rate in decades.”

And get this … a staggering 42 percent of business owners have reported job openings they could not fill – and it’s not because wages are low. According to the NFIB, 36 percent of employers have raised wages and another 22 percent intend to do so.

“In fact, it’s been reported that the average wage for all occupations in Idaho reached just under $25 an hour last year,” she says.

Budge can only speculate why employers can’t find workers. “This is not an NFIB position, but I think you have a generational shift. There has been so much money put into the economy through the federal stimulus that has far outstripped the demand. Owners can’t get people to work, or apply for jobs, and that will have an impact on small business and the ability to carry on. Second and third generation businesses are selling out, because either you grow or you die. It’s hard to be a small business person right now.”

The problem is not confined to Idaho. “It’s the same situation everywhere,” says Budge, who travels extensively with her job.

So, how are people paying the skyrocketing housing costs, or keeping up with inflation?

“That’s a good question,” she says. “Developers seem to be banking on Idaho being an open state with recreational opportunities – and people are coming to Idaho. Look at McCall. And the demographics of downtown Boise are much different than, say, 28 years ago. Outsiders are moving to Idaho.”

But they are not filling the plethora of job openings, and you know where that leads.

“How often do you hear about lack of service? Lack of help? Owners apologizing for lack of service and inability to deliver? Changing hours, and automating because they have to? It’s a confounding problem. I don’t think we know why, but it doesn’t look like it’s really changing,” she says.

Call it the “new normal” in today’s society.

The NFIB issues a jobs report monthly, which includes a wide range of facts and figures – and a news release for media outlets and interested parties. The lead to July’s news release summed up the sorry situation well.

“Another monthly small-business jobs report, another dismal reading for the Main Street enterprises of America.”

There’s not much optimism between those lines, but it’s something you should keep in mind when politicians talk glowingly about our low unemployment rate.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


Gaining from outrage

Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon is fired up, and for good reason. At least, that seems to be the consensus of the party’s faithful.

She and her fellow Republicans, who strongly back former President Trump, are peeved about what appears to be a two-tiered justice system. “Joe Biden’s Department of Justice,” as Moon describes it, has issued a string of indictments against Trump – President Biden’s most likely opponent in next year’s presidential race.

Nothing fishy about that, right?

“Of course, the fake news media have trained their spotlights on Donald Trump, focusing all of their energy on the allegations against him,” Moon says.

And then there’s Hunter Biden, the president’s son who apparently has never taken the silver spoon from his mouth.

“Testimony by Hunter Biden’s former business associate suggests Hunter used his father, during his tenure as vice president, as political influence in his business dealings. And we’ve all seen the video of Joe Biden admitting, in his own words, that he strong-armed a foreign government to fire the prosecutor that was investigating Hunter Biden and his company,” Moon wrote. “We sit and watch the DOJ give preferential treatment to the sitting president’s family, and our press shields Joe Biden from criticism.”

With Republicans so hopping mad over the DOJ developments, it’s no wonder why Trump’s poll numbers keep rising. Moon is not alone with her views. Polls show that more than 80 percent of Republicans think indictments against Trump are politically motivated. That’s a good number of people who dislike everything about Biden, the justice department and liberal policies in general. The GOP’s solution is to put Trump back in the White House to straighten out everything.

Let’s think more about that one. The former president’s defenders keep saying that Trump has done nothing wrong – at least not enough to put him in jail, or disqualify him for the presidency. But what I haven’t heard from Moon, or any other Trump supporter, is what he has done “right.”

  • Was it right (or presidential) for Trump to sit silently at a kitchen table in the White House and watch as rioters were storming the Capitol?
  • Was it right (or presidential) for Trump to pressure his vice president into not certifying the results of the 2020 election, which was Mike Pence’s constitutional duty that day?
  • Was it right (or presidential) for Trump to ask (more like demand) the Georgia secretary of state to “find” nearly 12,000 votes (by any means) to reverse the outcome of the race?
  • Was it right (or presidential) for Trump to stash boxes of classified documents at his Florida home?

The list can be longer, for sure. My take is that anything positive that came from his administration – such as a robust economy and building some respect internationally – were overshadowed by his deplorable conduct since his election defeat. And, yes, he did lose that election. It’s hard to imagine that the party of Ronald Reagan – known for his wit, wisdom and dignity -- wants a guy like Trump back in the White House.

This campaign for the nomination is about one person, and not about the future … and not about pressing issues such as national security, border control and the $32 trillion national debt. It’s about re-living the 2020 election and all those indictments from Joe Bidens justice department – which in the eyes of the GOP faithful apparently is a far bigger threat than Russia or China.

If Trump wins the presidency, we can look forward to an endless string of court proceedings over those indictments, perhaps in addition to an impeachment or two if Democrats regain control of the House.

Republicans have an impressive list of candidates who are ready to take on Biden and talk about their vision for the future. I don’t see how the country can take four more years of Donald Trump.

By the way things are looking, that’s what we’re going to get.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


A debate without end

When I came to the Idaho Statesman as opinion page editor in 1999, it was suggested that I read a special section that the editorial department did on dam breaching. It was a gold-standard argument for saving salmon – the kind of effort that gets a Pulitzer Prize.

As the Statesman saw it, breaching the four dams on the lower Snake River was the only practical way that salmon could survive and the writers outlined a compelling case. The environmental, economic and scientific reasons clearly were on the side of breaching the dams.

Keep in mind, that was 24 years ago. The debate was raging long before that, and it continues today – without much movement in either direction. The groups that were for it decades ago are still for it, and those who have been opposed are still opposed. Idaho’s congressional delegation and state officials were – and still are – adamantly opposed to breaching. Predictably, conservationists and tribes favor it.

A big breakthrough on the breaching side came a couple of years ago when Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson came out in favor of breaching and issued a $33 billion plan to get it done. He said at the time that he didn’t know that breaching would save salmon, but he was certain that removal of the dams was the only chance.

Simpson doesn’t have a lot of support from fellow politicians; even Democrats from Washington and Oregon are, at best, lukewarm to the idea. But Simpson is not one to give up easily, and he may have the biggest ally of them all on his side. President Biden has said he supports salmon and dam removal, drawing recent attention from national outlets such as Politico and the Wall Street Journal.

If salmon recovery becomes a “legacy” issue for Simpson (he has no shortage of those in his long career), he might consider establishing a “Republicans for Biden” committee, mixing with those within the GOP who don’t like the idea of four more years of Donald Trump. Simpson often is reminded of his statement in 2016, declaring that Trump was unfit for the presidency – a statement that may be more applicable today than seven years ago.

Of course, Simpson won’t break from Trump if he wins the GOP nomination … his caucus in the House wouldn’t stand for it. But it’s a sure bet that breaching will not happen if Trump, or any other Republican, gets in the White House.

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, for one, is taking the potential of Biden’s intervention seriously. Risch is looking more toward the human benefits that the dams bring, such as hydropower and clean energy. The dams, he said, are a lifeline for the Port of Lewiston.

“As a U.S. senator and the leader of an independent free-market research organization, we are unified in our effort to protect the Snake River dams and maintain their economic and environmental benefits for our region,” Risch wrote recently. “Beyond us, there is strong, widespread support for the dams, including from Idaho officials and trade groups.”

Risch points out that dam removal will not be an easy process, even if the president pushes forward. He has introduced the Northwest Energy Security Act, along with Republicans from Washington and Monana.

“Congress authorized these dams, and only Congress has the power to remove them,” he wrote. “Thankfully, many of the congressional members elected to the area surrounding the Snake River dams are working to protect the economic and environmental benefits they provide.”

Responding to Risch’s efforts, Simpson said, “While I respect Jim’s opinion, following his path forward would mean the annual loss of half a million-acre feet of water and extinction of Idaho’s salmon runs. This all to save four dams in Washington. That’s a path I cannot follow.”

So, we’re back to where the breaching debate was when I returned to my home state 24 years ago. The way it looks, the rhetoric will be the same 24 years after I’m gone from this earth.

By that time, salmon probably will be wiped out and the environmental argument will be about saving goldfish.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


Risch breaks with Trump on Ukraine

Don’t get Idaho Sen. Jim Risch started on Ukraine.

On second thought, do. That is, if you want to see energy, passion and a dose of common sense. Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, turned a breakout session of the recent Aspen Security Forum into quite a show, and received some generous applause from global leaders in the audience.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who shared the stage with Risch, needled the Idaho senator for displaying “low energy and limited passion” with Risch’s remarks about Ukraine. The animosity between Republicans and Democrats, that we keep hearing about, was not on full display on this day. Risch and Coons have been friends and colleagues for a long time, and they happen to agree that the U.S. should support Ukraine’s fight against Putin and Russia.

For those who may be scoring at home, Risch made the boldest statement of the session.

“The war is over as far as who’s lost,” he said. “Russia has lost. The Ukranians haven’t won, but Russia has lost. Their objective was to occupy that country. They are never going to occupy that country. (The Ukranians) will fight with sticks and stones in the streets, which Putin has now figured out and the rest of the world has figured out.”

Wow! Political leaders in the U.S. know something about lost causes – the withdrawal of troops in Vietnam during the ‘70s … leaving Iraq almost 20 years after President George W. Bush proclaimed that the mission was accomplished … and the embarrassing retreat from Afghanistan. Risch, for one, doesn’t want to add Ukraine to the Hall of Shame, and he offers a nice reality check to the situation.

There is some bipartisan resistance to continuing support for Ukraine. Even some Republicans in the presidential race, including former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have raised doubts about continuing support for Ukraine. Trump says he will pull U.S. support for Ukraine if he wins the presidency, which puts Risch in an awkward position. Risch avoided public disagreements with Trump during his four years in office – and the Idaho senator’s stance on Ukraine is clearly at odds with the Republican frontrunner.

For the moment, Risch and Coons – as voices of reason -- are telling their colleagues that now is not the time to pull away.

“We have not only a moral obligation to do this, we’ve got a legal obligation to do this,” Risch said. “One of the most important reasons is if you think Xi (China’s leader) isn’t watching every single thing that goes on as far as our commitment to the see this though, you’re badly mistaken. He is watching this – and I have reason to believe that for a fact – very, very closely, and watching every utterance that comes out of the United States Congress, out of the administration, and out of the American people as to what kind of a stomach we’ve got to see this thing through.”

Risch says give Ukranians cluster bombs and all the ammunition they need, short of nuclear weapons.

“I’m tired of hearing about escalation,” he said. “If you don’t escalate, you’re going to lose. I want Putin to wake up in the morning worried about what he’s going to do that’s going to cause us to escalate, instead of us wringing our hands and saying ‘we can’t do that.’”

As Risch sees it, the U.S. should do everything in its power to stop Putin. When it’s over, he says, the Russians should pay.

“It’s easy to say ‘oh, this is Putin’s war.’ I have no doubt that when Putin’s gone, Russia’s going to say that this was his war, it was a terrible mistake, we had nothing to do with it,” Risch said. “The Ukranians are not going to buy that. They’re going to insist that the Russian people pay the price for this.”

First, Putin will have to admit defeat – which is a tall order. It’s safe to say that the Russian dictator won’t be reading memos from Risch anytime soon.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


The insulin key

You can imagine the anguish that people face every month – deciding whether to shell out $500 a month (or more) for insulin, or buying groceries … or making that rent payment.

Of course, members of Congress don’t face those choices with their top-grade insurance plans. And even without insurance, affordability for medications is not an issue for members of Congress. We don’t hear stories about senators or congressmen being homeless, or scrambling for medications needed to stay alive.

But the American Diabetes Association hears from a much different segment of the population – and those stories are gut-wrenching.

“One in four people with diabetes have reported rationing their insulin due to high costs,” said Stephen Habbe, vice president (state government affairs) with the ADA.

That’s scary. It doesn’t take a medical background to realize that bad things happen when diabetes patients ration insulin, or quit taking it entirely. Complications can ensue, such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, or death. Yes, these are the kinds of stories that those with the American Diabetes Association hear every day. The thing is, there is no logical reason why insulin costs should be so outrageous. Insulin has been on the market for more than 100 years, and the ingredients have not changed dramatically – especially in recent decades.

“Although insulin was developed over 100 years ago, it’s still far too expensive and out of reach for many Americans living with diabetes,” Habbe said.

He’s right about that. So, it comes down to this. Insulin affordability is not an issue if you’re rich, have a top-grade private insurance plan, or on Medicare. Everyone else is out of luck.

President Trump – the political figure that many people love to hate – broke ground on the issue in a positive way, with ADA officials at his side. He created the Medicare Part D Senior Savings Pilot, which offered insulin at $35 under participating plans. But President Biden rescinded that and a string of other Trump executive orders, and eventually got around to calling for a $35 cap for everyone who needs it. However, that provision was kicked out of Biden’s landmark legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, and Republicans – such as Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo – are not eager to bring it back.

Crapo, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, has opposed capping insulin costs, saying that price fixing doesn’t work. He has proposed a GOP-based plan that, realistically, will go nowhere unless Republicans take control of the Senate and Crapo becomes the committee chairman. Crapo may be right about price fixing, but a system that allows costs for a life-saving drug to skyrocket, for no apparent reason, doesn’t work well either.

But the ADA, and states, are not waiting for the Washington politicians to act. According to Habbe, 24 states and Washington, D.C. have passed caps on state-regulated commercial health insurance plans. And the ADA is working to add more states to the list, including Idaho.

State Sen. Julie VanOrden of Pingree, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, says she’s been studying the issue and is interested in seeing a bill. Her willingness to listen and learn about the issue doesn’t guarantee passage through the Idaho Legislature, but the odds become better for a fair committee hearing on the matter.

For Idaho lawmakers, who resist relying on the federal government, there’s an opportunity that might be too good to pass up. Idaho could do what the feds or Congress can’t do (or won’t do). As Habbe sees it, the statehouses are a good place to stage this battle.

“States served as laboratories of change, encouraging federal legislators to take this issue up, which ultimately led to the inclusion of the insulin cost-savings measures – including the $35 cap on insulin in Medicare in the Inflation Reduction Act,” he said. “We’ve seen bipartisan support for this legislation in states across the country and both the U.S. Senate and House have introduced bipartisan bills capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin.”

The issue is going to be kicked around more in statehouses and the halls of Congress. Politicians should keep in mind that those who depend on insulin don’t care what party gets credit for reducing the costs.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at




The Children’s Congress

Imagine a Congress that accomplishes something … one that isn’t bogged down by gridlock and political postering. Now imagine, if you will, a lobbying effort that doesn’t involve campaign contributions.

That kind of Congress does exist through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s “Children’s Congress.” It started with a 9-year-old boy from Massachusetts named Tommy Solo who one day asked his mother, “Why can’t kids go to Washington and tell their representatives about what it is like to have type 1 diabetes?”

From there, the Children’s Congress was started in 1999 and has been held biannually since then, with more than 1,000 kids serving as delegates.

Idaho’s representative this year is Charlotte Swenson of Boise, a delightful 12-year-old girl who on July 9-11 will join a group of 160 delegates between the ages of four and 17. There are things that Congress can do: One is to renew funding for the Special Diabetes Program that is scheduled to expire at the end of September; the second is to make insulin affordable for everyone.

That’s heavy stuff for a girl who will be taking her first airplane ride, but Charlotte plans to be well prepared to speak with Idaho’s delegation. The Special Diabetes Program costs $150 million a year, which is a bargain considering the research advances made toward prevention and treatment. A second item on her “ask” list is making insulin affordable – and not those with comprehensive insurance coverage. Insulin affordability, a leading political football in congressional politics, takes on a different light with someone such as Charlotte making the pitch.

“I would not be here today without insulin,” she said softly to my question.

As for the Special Diabetes Program, “Research programs and advances in technology have made my life so much better,” she wrote in a letter to JDRF. “I can sleep better, and I don’t have to test my blood sugar every minute of the day. I am kept safer by knowing what my blood sugar is doing and can prevent any lows and highs. I am much healthier and can live more of a normal life because of my glucose monitor and my new pump.”

Charlotte, as with any other 12-year-old, has hopes for the future, including going to Harvard Law School, getting married and having a family, and helping find a cure for diabetes – all of which are within reach. But she doesn’t want to be part of the “lucky” few that have found a way to pay for insulin at a reduced cost. As Charlotte’s mother, Dyanna (a local JDRF advocate) sees it, there’s no reason why the cost should be so high.

“The ingredients for insulin haven’t changed,” she said. “It’s not a great concern for us, because we can get it, but I can’t imagine what it would be like not having insurance.”

Charlotte is making the trip with her mom and dad (Matthew) and they will have a whirlwind of activities. On the “business” side, there will be leadership and character-building programming, interactions with type 1 diabetes role models and attendance at a Senate hearing, where some kids will have an opportunity to share their personal stories.

Looking at Charlotte, you’d never know she had type 1 diabetes – and her parents, who have six kids, had no clue until she was five years old. She had stopped playing like normal and was wanting to lie down and watch TV instead. She was hungry all the time, but losing weight. Eventually, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and this little girl found herself in a world where she was taking insulin shots and carefully monitoring blood-sugar levels.

Now, she is working to help others – and taking her story to those who can help make it happen.

Charlotte says it perfectly in her letter. “Diabetes is a hard thing to live with. No child should have an aching headache like I do when I’m high or feel like gravity is pushing down on you when you are low. Every child should be able to eat when they are hungry and sleep without worrying that they won’t wake up. Until they find a cure, kids with diabetes should be able to have as much of a normal life like other kids. We should be able to swim, dance, eat and run without having to worry about staying alive. Please support helping kids with type 1 live happier healthier lives, and help us eventually find a cure.”

There is no hope if those lines don’t warm the hearts of grizzled politicians.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at




Simpson’s earmark break

It’s surprising that the Republican Party’s state central committee – which seems hell-bent on destroying any notions of a “big tent” for the GOP – hasn’t voted to expel Congressman Mike Simpson by now.

The Second District congressman simply doesn’t pass the litmus test for “purity.” He certainly doesn’t fit the mold of the rest of Idaho’s congressional delegation – something that irritates the heck out of a lot of conservative-minded Republicans. All he does is win elections … year, after year, after year. And that irritates the conservative factions even more.

Recently, Simpson sent out a commentary promoting Community Project Funding, which is a fancy name for “earmarks.” To three members of Idaho’s delegation, and a lot of Republicans nationwide, earmarks are the root of all evil – that nasty element of congressional politics that has given us a $31 trillion debt.

For certain, Simpson is not in tune with the thinking of today’s Idaho congressional Republicans on this issue. But he’s well in line with some of the voices from the past, including the late Sen. Jim McClure and former Sen. Larry Craig. McClure was a master of landing funding for Idaho projects, sometimes through procedural votes after most of his colleagues left town for a holiday recess. Craig, who as with Simpson served on the Appropriations Committee, would receive applause from partisan crowds when he pitched about the virtues of earmarks.

As Craig said then, and Simpson says now, earmarks do not amount to more federal spending. The money is already there and, in relative terms, it does not amount to a lot of money. Wipe out money for earmarks completely, and we’d still have a $31 trillion debt. But as Simpson points out, earmarks – or CPF – offers congressional delegations the one chance to set federal spending priorities for their states. If a delegation turns down the money, it can go to (you guessed it) pet projects in other states, such as New York or California.

Sure, we’ve heard horror stories over the years about ridiculous pork spending. In Simpson’s eyes, that level of fiscal abuse doesn’t occur in Idaho – at least not with the projects he promotes. His priority list includes preventing sewage backing up into homes, upgrading fire stations that don’t have running water, repairing crumbling roads – things that communities cannot realistically provide for themselves without help from the federal government.

“Over the years, I’ve supported many projects like those … each one important to the community in Idaho,” Simpson wrote. “In fact, it’s likely that you are currently benefiting from the safer roads, rehabilitated river walls, or improved sewer systems funded through this program (Community Project Funding). As your representative, I take seriously my responsibility to advocate for Idaho’s priorities within a responsible federal budget. Abdicating this responsibility wouldn’t reduce federal spending by a single penny; it would just send those funds to pet projects in other states or a federal agency to spend at its discretion.”

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch see it differently.

“After hearing from Idahoans concerned about the abuse and excess spending generated by earmarks, I supported the 2011 moratorium on earmark spending,” Crapo said. “I still hold these concerns and remain committed to fiscal transparency and responsibility.”

Says Risch: “I have long opposed pork spending, and I will continue to do so. Congress should abandon earmarks and treat taxpayer dollars with the respect it deserves.”

Simpson, apparently, listens to a different set of constituents. “I have lived in Idaho’s Second District for nearly all my life. I’ve spent two decades in Congress listening to Idahoans and seeing firsthand what really matters to them. Handing over all decisions about allocating the federal budget over to the executive branch has not gone well for Idaho in the past, but through the CPF program I can bring Idaho tax dollars back home for Idaho priorities.”

There’s no question about it, Simpson brings home the bacon – as McClure and Craig did during their time in Congress. Folks in the Second District will complain about Simpson for one reason or another, but it’s easy to see why voters keep re-electing him.

However, Crapo’s and Risch’s opposition to earmarks probably wins the day with state party leaders.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at