Fiscal health is the most urgent issue facing Congress. Not the only issue. But its close.
And on this defining issue, incumbent Republican Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson are the clear choices. They are far stronger on deficit and debt issues than their Democratic opponents.
Labrador rode the conservative crest in 2010, one of a whopping 87 GOP freshmen to win a House seat in the midterm elections.
Amidst this crowd, the 1st District lawmaker has managed to do something unusual if not unheard of for a first-term Idaho House member. He has begun building a national profile.
Labrador has become a repeat guest on the Sunday morning talk show circuit. He has been among a group of Latino Republicans campaigning in swing states for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. With a background in immigration law, Labrador would be well-positioned to assume a key role on a sensitive issue that is critical to Idaho.
A bit of cachet, on the Beltway and beyond, can be a valuable thing. It equates to influence. When Idaho has but two votes in the House of Representatives, influence is an especially precious commodity.
Wed just want to see Labrador use it properly, particularly on fiscal matters.
Labradors instincts on the spending side are correct. He recognizes that the federal government will have to make some fundamental changes. And, to his credit, hes consistent. If Democrats are going to have to make tough decisions on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, he says, Republicans must be willing to make tough decisions on military spending.
As far as that goes, hes right. But Labradors unwillingness to consider a balanced approach to debt reduction a combination of tough spending cuts and unpopular revenue increases remains troubling. It may solidify Labradors standing among the House GOPs tea party wing, but it just isnt pragmatic.
Labrador faces only long-shot opposition this fall. Democratic challenger Jimmy Farris is familiar with long odds the Lewiston native made his way to the NFL, collecting a Super Bowl ring in the process but the first-time candidate is overmatched. We have some disagreements with Labrador, but considering the urgency of the fiscal crisis, this is no time to bring in a rookie.
If two words summarize Simpsons view of the fiscal crisis, its these.
The seven-term congressman was a Republican leader of the go big coalition, a bipartisan group that advocates taking a first, meaningful cut at debt relief through spending cuts and revenue increases.
Simpson also supported an attempt to put this framework into action. In March, he voted in support of a budget plan that embraces the go big principle a $4 trillion debt-cutting blueprint authored by the chairs of President Obamas debt commission, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Erskine Bowles, chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.
The fact that the Simpson-Bowles plan garnered only 38 House votes and that the go big coalition has fallen well short of the 218 supporters needed to hold sway in the House reflects poorly on a polarized and ineffective Congress.
If anything, it underscores the fact that Mike Simpson is the best pick in the 2nd District because he deeply understands the budget crisis. And because he is willing to stand up to the hard-liners, even those in his own party, to bring reason to the budget debate.
Factor in the fact that Simpson chairs a House appropriations subcommittee responsible for interior and environmental programs that are critical to Idaho and you have an unbeatable combination. When dollars are going to be scarce for all federal programs, Idaho needs a representative in a position to make sure those dollars are spent as wisely as possible.
Democratic opponent Nicole LeFavour is no stranger to budget decisions; the eight-year state lawmaker sits on the Legislatures Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. But the Boise Democrats approach to the federal budget is one-dimensional. Her core argument is that the federal government has hampered the economic recovery by slashing public jobs more quickly than the private sector can create them.
Simpson comes at this crisis from a more centrist perspective, and for that he gets our strong endorsement.
Our View is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesmans editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email firstname.lastname@example.org.