Idaho delegation backs ‘cut, cap and balance’
All of Idaho’s members of Congress support the “cut, cap and balance” approved by the Republican-led U.S. House in an effort to resolve the federal government reaching its debt limit. Sen. Mike Crapo is also part of a different budget plan, forged by six senators across political lines, that was endorsed by President Barack Obama Tuesday.
The House approved a plan calling for budget cuts, capping future spending based on economic activity and adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Almost all House Democrats opposed the plan, so it may not fare well with Democrats in charge of the Senate and White House. Lawmakers and the president have until Aug. 2 to work out a deal on extending the federal debt ceiling, which is the amount of money the government is allowed to borrow.
“House Republicans are committed to bringing spending under control and bringing the size of the federal government back to its historic size following years of growth and bloat,” Simpson said in a news release. Simpson has backed plans for a balanced budget amendment since he came to Congress.
Rep. Raul Labrador signed a letter last month calling on House GOP leaders to support the "cut, cap and balance" plan. "Our great nation did not find itself $14 trillion in debt overnight and it will take many years to correct this problem, but we must start now and we must hold future Congresses accountable regardless of party," Labrador said in a statement. "A cap on spending and a balanced budget amendment will prevent future Congresses from ever returning us to the situation we find ourselves in today."
During the House debate on the plan, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said it’d change the Constitution and stack the deck in favor of cutting Medicare and Medicaid over closing tax loopholes and raising taxes.
Idaho Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo are co-sponsors of a similar plan introduced in the Senate. Risch spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday, saying that lawmakers in Congress aren’t doing their job by not passing balanced budgets.
Risch harkened back to his time as Idaho governor, saying that the Gem State and other states can balance their budget, even during difficult times, so the federal government should, as well.
Crapo backs the “cap, cut and balance” plan, but he also backs a $3.7 trillion debt reduction from the “Gang of Six” senators, who have been working for months on a plan to limit spending and reform the tax code.
“The ‘Gang of Six’ takes a different tack,” said Crapo’s spokesman Lindsay Nothern. “It seeks to encourage economic growth through lowering the tax rates. At the same time, that economic growth will then help pay down the debt.”
The “Gang of Six” plan would also close some tax loopholes and deductions. It would set up three income tax brackets — currently there are six — with lower rates. All the tax changes could result in $1 trillion in new tax revenue. It would also call for an immediate $500 billion in spending cuts as well as ongoing cuts to health care programs. It would also raise the Social Security retirement age and link Social Security and Medicare to the rate of inflation.
Shortly after hearing about the plan, the president called it a significant step. “We've got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending both in domestic spending and defense; we've got to be serious about tackling health care spending and entitlements in a serious way; and we've got to have some additional revenue so that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something,” Obama said.
Nothern said he wasn’t surprised by the president’s praise. “It’s really less about the president and more about what happens in the Senate,” Nothern said. “It’s somewhat predictable, because the president is not going to support the ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ plan. By coming out and supporting this one today, maybe he’s trying to send a message to his [party] that they should get behind this ‘Gang of Six’ plan.”
Officials in the offices of Simpson and Risch said the lawmakers had yet to look at Crapo's debt reduction plan with the "Gang of Six." Labrador's office did not respond to IdahoReporter.com's request for comment.