Crapo: Debt Crisis Serious Threat to Nation

Aug 31, 2011

BOISE, ID. – U.S. Senator Mike Crapo is back in Idaho while Congress takes a month break. He’s been traveling the state to listen to Idahoans and their concerns.  Here are highlights from Scott Ki’s conversation with the Senator, edited for length and clarity. Senator Crapo begins by telling Ki that it’s great to be back in Idaho:

Senator Mike Crapo:  “I’m serious.  It’s breathing the clean air. Rubbing shoulders with people who have common sense.  Listening to the people of Idaho as they describe what they want to see in Washington, D.C. and how they want to see us govern.”  

Scott Ki:  “There’s always this perception in the United States that when Congressmen go back to their home states, they’re on this lavish vacation and they’re not working hard.  Have you found at least some personal time to do something interesting or something fun?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “You know, I took two or three days off with my family, but that’s about the extent of it.  I was thinking the other day.  I haven’t actually had like a week’s vacation or something for probably ten years.  It would be nice one of these Augusts to do that.  We call the August recess the state work period for our office and we use that to literally move me around the state two or three times getting into every community that we can, meeting with people who can’t make it out to Washington, but who have important issues.” 

Scott Ki:  “Is there a special place that you like to go, or just three days at home, or..?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “When I get three days off its kind of hard to get very far away.   Almost every time it’s in Idaho. I don’t end up going somewhere else for my vacations.  And usually it’s somewhere in the mountains.  Or, you know, maybe get somewhere near a river, and rent a boat, and do a little waterskiing, or something like that.”

Scott Ki:  “Are you really able to get away?  Even when you’re on vacation are you totally disconnected, or is there something that still persists?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “That’s a very good question because I have found that it’s hard for me to unwind.  If I have two or three days of just doing nothing, I find I get a little bit antsy.  And I’m thinking about the issues or things that need to be done and I have to really just disengage and get involved in other activities.”

Scott Ki:  “So what’s the most pressing issue for you even on your time off.”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “Well, this year very clearly it’s the debt crisis. That issue in my opinion dominates all other issues by far. I’ve told people across the state of Idaho that I think it’s the most serious threat that our nation has ever faced.  And I think that the America that Americans have grow up knowing for decades and for generations will be a different place if we put ourselves in the position that we could be if we let this debt crisis run its course against our nation.” 

Scott Ki:  “And what are you hearing from Idahoans?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “Idahoans get it. When you think about it, the notion that you can spend yourself into prosperity, especially with borrowed money, is something that is just not sensible to people.  The bottom line is they know that they have a given amount of income and they got to make it stretch to cover their needs.  And when it doesn’t stretch, they have to make adjustments.  They have to reduce their needs in some way or they have to increase their income in some way.  And if they go out and borrow some money to get over some tough times, they’re very careful to make sure they take account the payment on that debt so they know that they can handle and pay it off before it consumes them.  And the federal government doesn’t do any of that.”

Scott Ki:  “What other issues are you hearing from Idahoans that are predominant in their mind right now?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “Oh, a lot of other issues.  A big part of all of this is jobs.  Idahoans know that a big part of the solution to our debt crisis, the biggest part, is to control the spending, but there must also be a pro growth side of it.” 

Scott Ki:  “President Obama has said he believes a jobs bill is necessary to jump start the economy.  Are you in line with that view?” 

Senator Mike Crapo:  “I strongly agree that a jobs bill is necessary.  I think that he and I may be talking about two different things though. I don’t know exactly what’s on his mind, but I suspect that his proposals are going to include yet again another round of stimulus spending, spending with borrowed money, that will probably include a proposal for tax increases.  Both of which I disagree, I think those are job killers rather than job creators.  He may be including in his list some things that we do agree on.  Things like the three languishing free trade agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia, and moving forward on some kind of energy policy. I hope that he’s talking about some energy policy reform.”

Scott Ki:  “In a letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago, one person wrote in and said, ‘I’ve heard from Republicans in the past few years that we can’t raise taxes so company owners can hire workers.’ And in that letter that person asks, ‘If that’s so, where are the jobs?’  How would you respond to that?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “Well, first of all there are a lot of things that are causing small business owners in particular but large businesses as well to sort of stay on the sidelines right now because they’re not sure what the economic climate is.  There is a tax increase being proposed and if that tax increase is enacted then they’re going to need that capital to pay taxes. Secondly, there is a huge amount of uncertainty in the business world about the regulatory climate that is developing.  I hear from businesses everyday that they want to be engaged in building and developing their businesses but they don’t know what the rules are anymore.”

Scott Ki:  “You’re one of six Senators – three Republicans and three Democrats – known as the Gang of Six.  This group has worked on finding solutions to the nation’s debt, deficit, and fiscal issues.  What’s the future of the gang?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “Right now, we have a special committee formed in Washington that’s going to look at all the plans. Our Gang of Six plan I think is going to be prominent in their considerations.  We are growing. There are 20 or 30 or 40 senators right now on a bipartisan basis who are very supportive of our approach.  And I’m confident that our approach in its entirety or major parts will be a part of the ultimate solution that we have to achieve as a nation as we address this crisis.”

Scott Ki:  “How did you feel when you and the rest of the Gang of Six weren’t selected to serve on the deficit super-commission?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “Well, I was disappointed but not surprised.  And what I mean by that is when we brought out our plan. It was comprehensive. It touched every part of the budget. And as you might guess, every special interest group in America came unglued and attacked us.  We were attacked from the right to the left.  One way to put is that the knives came out.  And the political knives that wanted to stop reform and didn’t’ want to face the need for change became highly organized and the battle was heavily engaged.”  

Scott Ki:  “So Senator what’s the first thing you’ll work on when you return to Washington, D.C.?”

Senator Mike Crapo:  “Undoubtedly, the very first thing I’ll work on will be the very last thing that I was working on when I left and that’s the Gang of Six proposal and the debt crisis. We have until November of this year to put together the work product of the special committee that has been created, which is at a minimum another $1.2 trillion of deficit reduction.  But I’ve been telling groups across Idaho that’s far too little. We have to have something in the neighborhood of about $4–5 trillion dollars as a minimum for our first major step and we need to do something in that range of another $4–5 trillion very soon thereafter to get our country moving back in the right direction.” 

Copyright 2011 Boise State Public Radio