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Posts published in “Malloy”

Those election claims

So, you still think that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and that former President Trump should have been in the White House all along. Perhaps you believe Trump when he continues to insist that he won the election by a wide margin.

Obviously, Trump has not spent time with Ken Block – who the Trump campaign hired to find voter fraud in the wake of the 2020 election. Block isn’t about to get into a shouting match with Trump, but he has written a book (“Disproven”) that knocks down every claim that Trump and his supporters made. And Trump’s campaign attorney, Alex Cannon, has provided testimony to the validity of Block’s findings.

“It simply was not there,” Block told me in a telephone conversation. “There was fraud, but not enough to change any of the results in any of the swing states. That’s different from the campaign rhetoric saying that the election was stolen. None of the rhetoric comes with any kind of defensible data.”

Even Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, couldn’t dispute Block’s findings. “So, there’s no there there,” he said in a talk with Cannon.

Block had all the motivation for finding election fraud, and the expertise to do the job. He’s a technology entrepreneur from Rhode Island with expertise in analyzing voter data. He sifted through mounds of claims and theories, from the “plausible” to the “outrageous,” during his time with the Trump campaign. Basically, he was looking for fraud with the gusto of a prospector panning for gold.

“Attorneys were not going to court with false claims of fraud. They wanted me to, if I could, determine if the fraud cases were true. Or if they were false, they asked me to prove that they were false,” Block said. “Every one was determined to be false. So, when people hear there was massive voter fraud, they need to think critically about what the claim is, because the only claims that matter from a legal sense are the ones that can be defended in court.”

Block had a short time frame for his work, but he said time was not a factor and he had sufficient resources. “If there was massive voter fraud, heck yeah, I wanted to be the guy to find it, because our democracy would truly be at risk if there was demonstrable provable voter fraud. I knew we had the ability to find it if it was there.”

Block’s decision to write a book came during publicity surrounding the Jan. 6 Committee. As he explains, “I didn’t want somebody else telling the story, or providing a framework that was not mine. I’m essentially talking about all of this at the risk of perjuring myself. If you are trying to figure out if I’m full of it, there’s no way I would risk my freedom to make up stuff like this.”

Although Block found no evidence to help with Trump’s case, he found plenty of quirks in the election process. In New Jersey, for instance, there are 25,000 registered voters with a birth date of 1800.

“Before anyone views that as a smoking gun gun for voter fraud, it’s not,” Block says. “New Jersey has a bad computer system and election officials are negligent in cleaning up something that’s missing, which is an actual date of birth.”

One glaring weakness in elections overall is the lack of systemic uniformity, he said. “It’s hard to track voters who move from state to state, because states are not sharing their data. What we don’t have is a federal data base to ensure that voters have just one registration. So our elections are by no means perfect. That being said, I haven’t seen in more than a decade of doing this any claims of fraud that survives scrutiny.”

Over time, we’ll see if Block’s work survives scrutiny from the MAGA crowd. The book may not read like a compelling John Grisham page-turner, but it provides interesting fodder for those who want to know once and for all if the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

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

 

A pitch for ranked choice

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is hardly a guiding light in the Gem State, and especially those who are cuckoo over Donald Trump. But she does offer a simple explanation about ranked-choice voting – which is an accomplishment in itself.

Appearing on a PBS program a year ago, Murkowski said it’s not complicated at all. She sees it as no different from going to a restaurant and sorting through the list of menu items. Customers will make their first choice, and may have in their minds a second, third or fourth selection.

With ranked-choice voting, she said, voters have the option (it’s not required) of deciding candidates in order of preference. If one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, it’s over – we have a winner. It gets a little sticky if no one gets more than 50 percent, but stay with me (or Sen. Murkowski) here.

If there is no clear winner in the first round, she said, “the person at the bottom of the stack who received the fewest votes is eliminated, and their second choice is reallocated to the others. You go through that process until one candidate has received over 50 percent.”

See? That’s not so difficult. And that’s how Murkowski – a moderate Republican – was elected to a fourth term in the Senate in 2022. The process might take a few days, or perhaps weeks, which might cause some Idahoans to balk at the idea. But Alaskans, and certainly Murkowski, appear to be happy with the result. Murkowski, who is no fan of Trump, acknowledges that she would have had a difficult time surviving a primary race under the old closed-primary system.

Alaska’s voting system is nearly identical to the open-primaries initiative that is being pushed in the Gem State. As with Idaho years ago, Alaska had an open-primary system – where anyone could vote in a primary without declaring party affiliation (Democrats were free to vote in Republican primaries). But, as with Idaho, Alaska changed to closed primaries – where the most conservative faction took control on the GOP side. The basis for seeking a change is about the same in both states.

Alaskans wanted more participation, a greater voice,” Murkowski said. Alaska moved to an open primary, where the top four vote-getters (regardless of party) advanced to the general election.

That’s what initiative proponents are calling for here. Hypothetically, that could mean that a gubernatorial race between, say Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke and Attorney General Raul Labrador, would be the featured attraction in a general election, opposed to a May primary. Voter turnout in a general election, of course, is much higher. Murkowski, for one, is all for ranked choice, with 26 percent of the electorate identifying itself as Republicans, and 17 percent identifying as Democrats.

You have 60 percent who choose not to identify with either party,” Murkowski said. “Where do they go? Where is their political home? In a primary, they don’t feel there is any real incentive to participate … and in the general, what they are given are two individuals on the extremes of both sides.”

Idaho’s percentages are more lopsided. According to estimates from the secretary of state’s office, some 57 percent align with Republicans and about 27 percent are unaffiliated. Ranked choice may not put Democrats on the radar, but it could mean that moderate Republicans (on the level of Murkowski) could have more of a fighting chance.

Murkowski sees a practical side for incumbents.

We have become too partisan in this country,” she said. “We see that in Washington, D.C. We see people who know where their hearts and minds should be on particular votes, but they know they are going to get creamed by their party if they vote the wrong way. They know they will be primaried by somebody who is more conservative or more liberal.”

I doubt if the slogan for the initiative will be, “What’s good for Alaska is good for Idaho.” But on this matter, Murkowski says her state could be a valuable example for others.

What we demonstrated in Alaska was the possibility that electoral reform can happen, and it can deliver outcomes that are less partisan and perhaps less politically rancorous,” she said.

This idea is worth a shot, if you are unhappy with how the Republican primary – which essentially decides most elections – is choosing its candidates.

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

 

 

Idaho GOP on the Trump conviction

Forget about Nikki Haley coming out of the woodwork at the Republican National Convention to rescue the party from a bad situation.

Donald Trump is doing fine with his 34 felony convictions, and Republicans couldn’t be happier. They are acting as if Trump were handed his ticket to a second term in the White House, courtesy of President Biden’s judicial department. Of course, there’s no evidence that Biden had anything to do with the New York City trial. But if Republicans say it enough, then people will start believing it.

In the meantime, the former president is heading into the July convention with momentum and galvanized support, with the word “conviction” becoming a drinking game of sorts. Say it 34 times and that brings in about $50 million to his campaign coffers.

Three of the four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation – Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressman Mike Simpson – wasted little time making comments on social media. They blasted the judge, prosecutors and, yes, Biden’s justice department, for what they viewed as a disgusting spectacle. Historically, this was the first time that a former president received a felony conviction, let alone 34. To Republicans, it might as well be 34 Olympic gold medals.

Dave Leroy, a former Idaho attorney general and longtime politico, had plenty of thoughts about the convictions. What he saw during Trump’s trial was on the level of Keystone Cops, branding the exercise as a farce.

The mighty has fallen, and I’m not just talking about the defendant (Trump), but the system has taken a mighty blow,” Leroy told me. “The convictions represent a national tragedy and makes the American judicial system a laughingstock. The people of the state of New York suffer greater injury from a single unprosecuted shoplifting case than they did from 34 business entries made seven years ago.”

The idea, Leroy says, was to prove that Trump was involved in election interference. In the end, it was the judge and prosecutors who were doing the interfering.

They collectively devised this conviction against the leading presidential candidate five months before the November date on which the national leadership will be decided,” Leroy said. “The problem will not go away this week, or in July, but it will be a national scar for at least the next 24 months when these decisions wander through the New York appeals process and maybe to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

For now, put aside issues such as border control, the economy and national security. This election is about whether voters want a president who has 34 felony convictions, or if Trump was a victim in a scam trial. As Leroy sees it, that’s how prosecutors wanted it to play out.

There can be no good result here for the American public, or for American democracy during this coming election cycle and well into the next presidential period,” he said. “Our system is not broken, but the weakness has been glaringly exposed.”

The next phase comes on July 11 when the judge imposes his sentence – and that’s four days before the start of the GOP convention. Leroy says the trial flaws likely will be exposed during the sentencing.

There probably is, in the traditional sense, no appropriate sentence that the judge can render that does not further underscore the mockery of this case,” he said. “Technically, when somebody is convicted of 34 felonies, they are headed to a penal facility for a significant period of years. Anything less confirms this case is a farce and a mere exercise of politics.”

As grave as those 34 felony convictions seem, I can think of worse things Trump has done. My list starts with what Trump did, or didn’t do, during every waking moment on Jan. 6. A close second was his call to the Georgia secretary of state, demanding that he flip the election results in that state.

Your premise is correct,” Leroy says, agreeing there are more serious matters to consider in relation to the former president. Yet, the cast that gets the national spotlight in the one that involves a former porn star.

Gov. Brad Little and others (including Trump) say the voters in this election will be the ultimate jury, and they’re probably right. It’s too bad that the campaign has degraded to court drama, opposed to the issues that people should really care about.

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

Note: In last week’s column, former congressional candidate Bryan Smith’s role with the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee was misrepresented. He is not part of the group nor has he been a part of the group for some time.

(image/release from Fulton County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office)

Replacements?

If Dorothy Moon wins another term as chair of the Idaho Republican Party, it will be without the help of Bonneville County Republicans.

That’s because the central committee’s leadership team, which includes Doyle Beck and former congressional candidate Bryan Smith, were thrown out on primary election night and a new slate of officers will move in after reorganization this week.

The immediate focus of the leadership team will be to restore peace and harmony to the central committee. In mid-June, during the state party’s convention in Coeur d’Alene, the group will be leading the charge to remove Moon as the GOP’s leader. At least one state representative thinks that a change is inevitable.

“She will not be returning as the party’s chairwoman, and I think she knows that,” said Rep. Marco Erickson of Idaho Falls, who was re-elected to a third term in the Legislature and won a precinct position as well.

Predictions can be perilous in a state convention, where mood swings can change rapidly. But Bonneville County is a traditional Republican hotbed and delegates there can have a big say over who runs the party and how the platform reads. If the statewide turnover rate of precinct positions is anything like Bonneville County’s, then Moon’s chairmanship may end.

Erickson and friends in Bonneville County would have no trouble getting support from the likes of Gov. Brad Little and Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke – assuming that they bother showing up to the convention. They are no fans of Moon, or her brand of leadership.

So, we’ll see what happens in the Lake City rumble. To borrow from the late sports announcer, Keith Jackson, this should be “a real slobberknocker.”

Meanwhile, the post-election celebrations continue in Bonneville County, where six incumbents who were reprimanded in some form by the central committee, easily won re-election. According to Erickson, the party’s more moderate faction now holds 40 of the county’s 53 precinct posts.

“The central committee had zero influence,” Erickson said. “Every candidate they have endorsed in the last two years has lost, with the exception of one state race. In Bonneville County, voters paid attention to the negativity they were spreading, and they didn’t like it. To lawmakers, they tried to call us names – like RINOs or Democrats. No, we’re all Republicans.”

Rep. Wendy Horman, a co-chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, said that primary voters sent a strong message.

“The message is that we (legislators) are more in touch with voters than the central committee. Voters spoke loud and clear that they don’t care for DC-style campaigning and they want to be the ones to hold their legislators accountable,” she said. “All six of us were brought under that inquisition process, and all of us won.”

The other winners included Sens. Kevin Cook and Dave Lent and Reps. Barbara Ehardt and Stephanie Mickelsen, who the central committee tried to bar from running on the Republican ticket.

“I don’t think they (the central committee) had the influence they thought they had,” Mickelsen said. “I think you will see a more collaborative relationship between legislators and the central committee … without feeling that we’re in front of a jury trial, and without being with someone who is trying to reprimand us. We can have a good conversation, without kangaroo courts or trying to take away the ‘R.’ It has been a difficult situation for a long time with the legislators and the central committee.”

Erickson says the central committee will have a new direction – one that supports Republicans and does not choose winners and losers in a primary campaign. Erickson says that as a precinct officer, he plans to support all Republican candidates – even those he might not like.

“If you are the Republican candidate, then you will be treated well,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve felt confident that the central committee will not have a side agenda, or not having some puppeteer pulling the strings.”

One of the first orders of business for the revamped central committee, he says, will be to reverse the reprimands against his fellow legislators.

“Hopefully, there also will be an apology,” he said.

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

(image/ID-A-0369, WaterArchives.org)

Electric

Of all the stupid things coming out of Washington, this one gets the golden dunce cap.

President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule that will have two-thirds of passenger vehicles and a third of heavy-duty trucks running electricity by 2032 – putting your friendly Chevron and Shell gas stations on the road to extinction.

The proposal needs congressional approval, which is far from a certainty, but think about what this would do for U.S. transportation. It would mean less emissions, less pollution and cleaner air. It could end the nation’s reliance on foreign oil, and the big oil companies would have to find other outlets for their lobbying.

Hmmm, it all sounds good. Where do we sign up?

On second thought … 2032 is just eight years away, and a lot of things would need to happen to accommodate a massive influx of electric vehicles. Last month, my wife (Vicki) and I drove to Arizona, and here’s how many electric-vehicle charging stations we saw along the way.

Try zero. No billboards, or exit signs pointing to EV charging stations. It’s difficult to imagine in eight years that charging centers will be more common than Chevron stations.

Keep in mind, this is just a “proposed” rule change – which would turn into a government mandate with congressional approval. The rule on passenger cars is pending in the Senate, and Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher, from the Energy and Commerce Committee, is spearheading efforts keep the rule on trucks from going anywhere in the House.

Fulcher, of course, is no fan of the Biden administration, but his concerns go beyond partisan politics – starting with the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles.

“That’s a real problem,” he told me. “Where are we going to get the electricity to charge all these vehicles? One charge on a heavy-duty truck is about the same as what a typical home uses in a week.”

The EPA rule is part of the war on fossil fuels, but the administration, and Democrats in general, also are not friendly toward hydro power, nuclear power or mining. All these elements come into play in some form when exploring alternatives to fossil fuels.

“We’re creating this government mandate to shift all these vehicles to electric and at the same time we are restricting our ability to generate electricity. It’s nonsense,” Fulcher says. “The problems keep compounding when you start thinking through the ramifications, and it begs the question, what in the world is this administration thinking?”

Fulcher’s “kill” efforts have plenty of Republican support. Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch also weighed in on the issue.

“These rules represent yet another attempt by the Biden administration to force its radical green agenda and pick winners and losers in the free market,” said Crapo.

“The Biden administration is determined to have every vehicle on the road be electric regardless of price or feasibility,” says Risch. “An EV mandate will significantly disrupt our nation’s supply chain, raise already high prices and severely impede the ability of consumers and businesses alike to make their own decisions.”

As Fulcher sees it, electric vehicles are not a bad idea. He says that with his short commutes in the D.C. area, it would make sense for him to be driving an electric vehicle and saving on gas. The problem is finding a charging station.

“If you go at the pace that consumers can accept, the Fords and Toyotas of this world could make it work, and especially in urban areas,” Fulcher says. “Over time, the cars will get better and the infrastructure will come along. But it won’t happen with the heavy hand of government mandating it.”

For now auto executives are telling congressional members they are not ready for a massive switch to electric vehicles. “They are telling us that they can build electric vehicles, but people won’t buy them,” Fulcher says.

However, China – the leading adversary of the U.S. – seems to be making inroads in the market. “So, there will be a wave of cheap and not-very-good Chinese vehicles dropped on the country. For consumers, who knows what they are getting or how safe they will be.”

So, who knows what the administration is thinking. But it’s good to see that Fulcher and others are asking some of the difficult questions.

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

 

Doing the thinking for you

It’s easy to see why some Republicans don’t fit the mold of Dorothy Moon’s stale old party.

Generally, they vote for education budgets and think that programs – such as Launch – are creative approaches to keep young people in the Gem State. They oppose having taxpayer dollars to private schools and resist the notion that public libraries are glorified porn shops.

These legislators are independent thinkers, not guided by a “integrity in affiliation” doctrine, and they don’t consult with the Idaho Freedom Foundation before casting their votes.

So, the likes of Reps. Stephanie Mickelsen of Idaho Falls (first term) and Lori McCann of Lewiston (second term) are not going to get backing from their Republican central committees. Mickelsen was told she was not welcome to run as a Republican and McCann was publicly censured by party leaders in her area.

Mickelsen and McCann are not alone. A number of legislators throughout the state have been rejected in some form by central committees. Some wayward legislators have been invited to seek “guidance” from party leaders in the effort for them to mend their ways.

Kool-Aid, anyone?

Don’t expect Mickelsen and McCann to show up for those “guidance” sessions. But they view themselves as proud Republicans, and they are not going to let anyone deter them from running as such.

The stakes in this election go beyond a few legislative seats. Moon’s future as chair will be on the line, with spirited challenges in party precinct races. McCann and Mickelsen are seeing in their areas folks who are fed up with what Moon and her followers have brought to the party. Precinct races helped put Moon in power, and they also could boot her out if the turnover rate is heavy enough

As for her House position, McCann says she’s proud to run on her record. “Let’s fix the problems in the state that should be fixed, like education, public safety and agriculture. Why do we bring up a bill on cannibalism?”

In the end, she said, “It is the people who elect me – not the central committee and not the party. If I’m not doing a good job for the people, the ballot box will take care of that. The party should not be doing that – picking winners and losers in the primary.”

Mickelsen thinks that efforts by the Bonneville central committee will backfire, and that jilted legislators will prevail.

“People are beginning to realize that the central committee does not reflect the values of our community,” she said. “They (the central committees) basically are trying to take away the right of the voters – saying their voices count more than the voters. The voters have a way of taking care of those who are not Republican enough, or conservative enough, at the ballot box.”

Mickelsen says her record reflects that she is both Republican and conservative enough for her district – at least on the issues that matter, such as property tax relief and lowering the income-tax rate.

The two lawmakers are not going to end efforts from the right.

“Right now, candidates for legislative offices are likely inundating you with campaign literature,” said Ron Nate of Rexburg, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. “They are probably telling you how conservative they are, and how they spend your hard-earned tax dollars wisely. For some lawmakers, those statements are true. For others, those things couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The proof, he said, can be found in the IFF’s “Freedom Index,” which grades legislators on a variety of issues. This year, the IFF has added a “Rubber Stamp Club,” those legislators who support almost all spending bills.

“The government’s growth has outpaced inflation and population gains,” Nate says. “That means lawmakers are spending more than ever, while telling you they aren’t.”

Moon says the party’s “integrity in affiliation” is not an attempt to “purify” the party, but to inform voters about the platform and what candidates are supporting it.

“The platform represents the political positions of the Republican grassroots,” she said. “Every two years, delegates gather in a beautiful Idaho city to debate new planks for the platform. Changes or additions are first debated in the Platform Committee and then ratified by the convention as a whole.”

We’ll see how the platform committee looks after the primary elections, or if Moon holds onto her job as the state party chair.

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

 

SCOTUS and Idaho

If anybody can understand the importance of emergency care during a pregnancy, it’s Rep. Ilana Rubel of Boise, the House minority leader. She has plenty of life experience on that matter.

“Fifteen years ago, my fourth child had a rare blood antigen triggering an attack response from my body during pregnancy,” she said. “Thankfully I was in the care of a fetal maternal specialist who identified the problem and had me go through high-resolution ultrasounds several times a week to make sure blood oxygen to my son’s brain wasn’t dropping too low. One day that test showed that his blood oxygen was dropping dangerously and I had to have an emergency C-section within the hour.”

This story has a happy ending. Rubel’s son is a straight-A student and taking AP Physics as a 9th grader. It’s fortunate that her story was from 15 years ago, when there were more than a few doctors qualified to handle her situation.

“Without the intervention of that fetal maternal specialist, he would have been born brain dead,” she said. “The majority of these specialists have left Idaho because its abortion ban makes it too risky to practice here and have to choose, in many cases, between malpractice and prison.”

Rubel isn’t talking about whether abortion should be legal, although she’s decidedly pro-choice on the issue. The question is over whether abortion can be allowed as an emergency procedure to save life of a mother, an issue that is before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorney General Raul Labrador says the uproar over emergency-care abortions is much ado about nothing and that Idaho’s abortion law makes exceptions to save the life of a mother, or in the cases of rape or incest.

“Idaho’s law is fully consistent with federal law,” he says.

Rubel is not convinced, with doctors and specialists leaving the state in droves, and pregnant mothers being airlifted to other states to receive the care they need. She’s also seeing a fair amount of tax dollars being spent fighting for a cause that, to her, doesn’t make sense.

As you might expect, politics are at the forefront. Labrador says he’s asking the Supreme Court to prevent the Biden administration from manipulating federal law to override Idaho’s Defense of Life Act.

“The administration’s radical interpretation of federal law is nothing more than a lawless disregard for Idaho’s right to protect life,” Labrador said. Idaho’s law is “perfectly consistent with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which provides explicit protections for unborn children in four separate places. But the Biden administration is trying to use one life affirming law to invalidate another.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on this case sometime in September. In the meantime, there will be plenty to say from both sides. Last week on the steps of the Supreme Court, Labrador was holding a news conference while Rubel and Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow of Boise were participating in a rally.

“In Idaho, we are on the front lines of the horror that was unleashed upon women and medical professionals when (Roe v. Wade) was overturned. Idaho has the most extreme abortion ban in America. The only exception is if the patient faces certain death. Likely death, no exception. Possible death, organ loss, no exception. Paralysis, permanent infertility – no exception,” Rubel said in a prepared statement.

“None of this is enough to permit an abortion, and any doctor who acts to save a woman in such an emergency faces years in prison. This is not OK,” she said.

Wintrow said that EMTALA has provided a lifeline for at least emergency abortion care, “but extremists in our state fought to cut that lifeline and take even that sliver of protection away. The impact of this case will extend far beyond Idaho. If EMTALA is not found to protect emergency abortion care, the safety of pregnant folks is in danger across the country.”

It was a spirited rally, for sure, and Labrador made his point in the news conference and in oral arguments to the Supreme Court. But the anxiety has just begun as we wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling, and the potential fallout.

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

 

A child tax credit split

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, has found a sure way to ensure that his prized legislation doesn’t see the light of day.

He sent a news release singling out the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, and blasting Republicans for holding up legislation aimed at boosting the child tax credit and helping innovative small business owners – the Tax Relief for Families and Workers Act.

Wyden said that Crapo has not accepted the Oregon Democrat’s offer to change the bill. “The changes he asked for instead would have destroyed any chance of passing the bill and left way too many kids living in poverty.”

I talked with Crapo about Wyden’s remarks, and the Idaho senator brushed off Wyden’s remarks. As Crapo said, it’s not unusual for committee chairs and ranking members to have aggressive disagreements, and Crapo recognizes that he is the GOP’s focal point on this issue. Crapo and Wyden are longtime colleagues from neighboring states and have worked on a long list of issues over the years.

“This will not harm our working relationship at all,” Crapo told me.

Of course, Senate Republicans who may have read Wyden’s release, might have a different view. If anything, their support for Crapo – and his opposition to the bill – will be even stronger.

Wyden says there is plenty of GOP support outside of the Senate. The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, a Republican and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. In January, the bill passed the House with 357 votes – a landslide by House standards.

“It’s a combination of ideas from both sides,” Wyden says. “It expands the child tax credit, focusing on kids from low-income families.” For small businesses, “it beefs up the incentive for (research and development) and investments in things like new equipment and software.”

Wyden suggests that Senate Republicans are holding out for a better deal in 2025, a notion that Crapo does not totally reject. Maybe some are hoping for a Trump presidency, or a Republican majority in the Senate.

“I don’t presume those kinds of things, and that’s not the position I’m advocating,” Crapo said. “We need to get into negotiations and find a resolution.”

Crapo says he’s all for strengthening the child tax credit and giving a boost to small businesses.

“There is a series of business tax polices that need to be fixed, and I am one of the strongest – if not the strongest – advocate for fixing those,” he said. “The demand on the Democrat side for doing that has been to expand the child tax credit, and I am not opposed to that. But they also want to change the tax credit to being much more of a straight entitlement, taking work requirements out of the system and making it much less available to the middle-class people who are paying taxes.”

Crapo favors helping those who need the government subsidy, the roughly 50 percent of families that receive the child tax credit. “But this will take it to about 91 percent and it’s not offering the appropriate amount of support to the middle-class working families.”

Also on the Republican side, pulling work requirements for any welfare program is a non-starter.

“I’m very open to negotiating a bill, if we get it right,” Crapo said. “As of now, the fixes that I believe need to be made to the bill are considered to be unacceptable to negotiate on from the other side, so we are at a standstill.”

Republicans are not heartless creatures when it comes to helping out families and kids, Crapo says.

“The child tax credit was created in 1997 by Republicans, and in 2017 it was doubled. I voted for it, and that is the law today,” he said. “I’m willing to add strength beyond what we did in 2017. This discussion is about not only expanding it, but whether we are going to change it by taking work out and moving a vast portion of it away from working middle-class families.”

It seems that there is a middle ground somewhere. Finding it is next to impossible in a presidential election year when party control of the Senate hangs in the balance.

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

(image/Oregon Department of Transportation)

Government stays open, for now

At long last, Congress has quit kicking the can down the road in regard to keeping the government open. And that’s good news for the federal employees drawing government paychecks.

But don’t get too excited about this reprieve. Congress will be back to kicking cans down the road sometime in late September, and as usual, the members won’t do anything before then.

The bad news is political in nature. House Speaker Mike Johnson is back in the hotseat for relying on Democrats to keep government running. And Republicans, including the three voting members of Idaho’s congressional delegation, see the spending package as a bad deal. So bad that a government shutdown would be preferable. The exception is Congressman Mike Simpson, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, who did not vote on the spending bill for medical reasons.

As his office explains: “Congressman Simpson missed votes this week due to a previously scheduled medical procedure. Mr. Simpson is in good health and will return to the nation’s capital shortly. He is pleased to see the second round of Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills pass the House – legislation he would have supported on the House floor.”

Idaho’s lone House vote – First District Congressman Russ Fulcher – outlined his objections, starting with the timing. His first view of the 1,012-page spending package came just 32 hours before he voted. And what he read wasn’t pretty in his eyes.

“The total is $1.2 trillion, but the American border remains open,” Fulcher said. “In this bill, taxpayers dollars are appropriated to expand FBI facilities, support transgender treatments with the (Department of Defense), and fund facilities that provide late-term abortions. There’s even some money for the World Health Organization … but there’s nothing in the bill to curb inflation. We are $34 trillion in debt. We need to cut spending and encourage economic growth. This bill does the opposite.”

Fulcher was not alone with his opposition. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch also voted against the spending bill, joining most of their Senate Republican colleagues and most House Republicans.

Says Risch: “From excessive spending to political handouts, procedural failures to irresponsible oversight, this spending bill fell grossly short of what Idahoans need. It ignores America’s fiscal mess; prolongs the Biden administration’s border catastrophe, overreaching Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives; and fails to provide any relief to Idahoans who pay more every day for President Biden’s inflationary agenda.”

Crapo has made no secrets about his objections to the spending package. “Over five months into this fiscal year, Congress has once again chosen to move 12 annual spending measures in two lump sum all-or-nothing packages.  Lumping multiple appropriations bills together without consideration of the merits of each individually and rushing through the process without the opportunity for a robust amendment process is irresponsible.”

As for the future of Johnson, who has held the job for only five months, stay tuned. Working with Democrats in any fashion is a sin to some Republicans, especially in an election year. There’s speculation that Democrats could save Johnson’s job if he brings up a floor vote on aid to Ukraine – something else that puts GOP hair on fire.

Fulcher told me that he will not be part of the effort to oust Johnson. As Fulcher sees it, few on the GOP side seem to have the stomach to go through another painful selection process for another speaker. Secondly, Johnson generally is better liked than the speaker who was booted out, Kevin McCarthy.

“We disagreed (on the spending bill), and we talked about it. We just saw it differently,” Fulcher said. “Just because we come to different conclusions doesn’t mean he should be booted out. Mike is a good man – a genially nice human being.”

And for Democrats, they are not going to get a better deal with someone else as speaker. “The spending bill had more support from Democrats than Republicans, so they should be relatively happy with Mike Johnson. They certainly don’t want to see Jim Jordan as speaker.”

Fulcher probably has the correct perspective, but the rumblings and political drama will continue.

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

(image/Congressional Budget Office)