Our View: Time for Crapo to step up on tax reform

August 14, 2013 

Sen. Mike Crapo is back — back from where exactly, we’re not sure. We don’t mean back in a geographical sense so much as back from sketchy months of being less than communicative with the media and in person with Idahoans, and back from smarting as a result of self-inflicted personal and campaign finance troubles that had beset him and dragged him down.

We could go over all that again, but we prefer the promise and swagger of the seemingly re-engaged and reinvigorated Sen. Crapo with the Harvard-educated mind and grasp of economic principles who showed up for an editorial board meeting with the Idaho Statesman on Tuesday.

As Congress and the country wander out on another precipice of potential financial ruin, we need someone who can sort the wheat from the chaff amid discretionary spending, someone unafraid to scale the many-tiered ideas on tax reform. We especially need someone as conservative as Crapo, who is not afraid to occasionally swallow the bipartisan castor oil of compromise with Bowles-Simpson and who was wise enough to pass on funding TARP.

But we had to ask Crapo what measure of progress we should apply to his performance over the next couple of years should he formalize his instincts to run again in 2016. He quickly obliged with a litany — albeit an aggressive and ambitious agenda — of issues he would meet head-on. At the top of his list is to stay aggressively focused on resolving our debt crisis.

“That involves tax reform. Reform of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — to make them solvent. Budget enforcement mechanisms and proper budgets to help control discretionary spending.”

That said, Crapo believes the economy needs a growth function, which could be jump-started by tax reform, as well as a “a proper national energy policy, immigration reform, and in the financial world, regulatory reform, so that our financial regulatory system is the envy of the world and properly integrated into the world economy in a way that makes us competitive rather than driving our business overseas.”

We make the observation that all that is a mighty tall order, and we wonder if it can be done in an age and era of gridlock. Crapo says little has been accomplished this year because of gridlock, and it’s unlikely things will be better during an election year in 2014.

The door is cracked for badly needed tax reform, for instance, but Crapo realizes the House and Senate leadership must first decide on a whether a new tax plan is “revenue neutral” — his preference — or designed to increase revenue.

Now would be a perfect time for a Crapo relaunch, a time to focus forward. Crapo commands a broad swath of respect in Congress. He has served on key committees and commissions.

It’s time for Sen. Mike Crapo to make maximum use of his seniority, intellect and common sense and start consistently bearing the fruit Idaho needs.

“Our View” is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.

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