Incumbent Sen. Mike Crapo is seeking his third term in the U.S. Senate, but says the next session of Congress could be reminiscent of part of his time in the House of Representatives.
Several election forecasters show Republicans gaining ground in Congress, potentially retaking one or both of the House and the Senate. The final tally could harken back to 1994, when Republicans controlled Congress with Democratic President Bill Clinton in the White House. Crapo was serving Idaho's 2nd District in the House at that time.
Crapo told IdahoReporter.com he has guarded optimism about the November elections, but said he thinks a split in party power could lead to some progress in Washington, D.C.
Crapo said the highlights of the post-1994 Congress were welfare reform and progress on balancing the budget. That time was also marked by federal government shutdowns and showdowns between Republicans in Congress and Clinton.
One area Crapo said the government needs to tackle is the national deficit. Crapo is serving on a commission created by President Barack Obama to address the deficit. The group's recommendations won't be ready until December. Crapo said the group wants to keep its ideas separate from election-year politics, but he said he thinks the recommendations will focus on ways to reduce government spending.
Crapo has said he doesn't want to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, but said he favors some reforms to the tax code that could help businesses.
At a meeting this week, several business owners told Crapo they were concerned, frightened, and uncertain about the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of this year. Crapo, along with Idaho's other members of Congress, said those tax cuts should stay in place. Crapo said help for the economy should start with shelving all talk of tax hikes.
Crapo and his Democratic opponent in this year's election, businessman Tom Sullivan, disagree on extending the Bush-era tax cuts for high-income earners. The highest tax rate for people making more than $200,000 a year would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.
Crapo has said during debates with Sullivan that half of all small business income would be see a tax increase if that tax rate rises. That is true, according to an analysis by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, but that committee also found that the tax increase would apply to 3 percent of businesses that report an income.
President Obama has called for letting that highest tax cut expire. That plan is also backed by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a non-partisan, Washington, D.C., think tank. Chuck Marr, a CBPP analyst, said extending the high-income tax cuts won't help the economy in the short-term, and would add $1 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
Crapo, using research from The Heritage Foundation, has said that Idaho could lose more than 3,000 jobs if the tax cuts aren't continued.
All polls conducted in the race show Crapo leading Sullivan. Crapo has also raised far more money for his race, which is common for incumbent candidates. However, Crapo said he is campaigning hard. He has started airing television commercials in Idaho.
“My campaign is firing on all cylinders,” he said.
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