Idaho's two most experienced lawmakers — Republican Sen. Mike Crapo and 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson — have been named to the inaugural class of 32 "Fiscal Heroes" in Congress by the Campaign to Fix the Debt.
The award was announced last week by the non-partisan group based in Washington, D.C. "Fiscal Heroes," according to the group, take fiscally responsible votes, push their leaders to make debt a priority, lead bipartisan efforts and educate constituents by "advocating to keep tough choices on the table."
Fix the Debt supports entitlement reform and tax reform to put the nation's $17 trillion debt "on a downward path in the long-term and allow the economy to thrive."
Crapo served on the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, voting for a debt-reduction plan mixing spending cuts and tax increases, also called Simpson-Bowles. When the blueprint failed to win enough votes to force a vote in Congress, Crapo joined the bipartisan Senate Gang of Six to press the commission’s ideas.
Simpson joined with Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer to found the "Go Big" coalition that follows a similar strategy in championing a comprehensive tax and spending deal. A close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Simpson has joined with fiscal moderates, including Democrats, to get spending bills through the House.
The 32 heroes — 19 in the Senate, 13 in the House — also include Hoyer and Boehner. Among them are 17 Republicans, 14 Democrats and one independent.
Fix the Debt was co-founded by the co-chairs of the President's Commission — former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Crapo has brought Simpson and a fellow award winner, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, to Idaho for public forums on the issue.
“It is truly an honor to be one of the first to receive this recognition from a group so vital to our national security as the Campaign to Fix the Debt,” Crapo said in a news release Friday. “A bipartisan, bi-cameral effort stretching across the public and private sectors is needed to bring the gravity of our $17 trillion-and-growing national debt to the forefront for immediate action.”
Simpson, perhaps recovering from winning 62 percent of the vote against Bryan Smith in the May 20 GOP primary, didn't draw attention to his honor. Smith, who vowed not to raise taxes, was backed by the no-tax-increase group Club for Growth and got 38 percent. Simpson faces former Democratic Rep. Richard Stallings in November.
Crapo is the Idaho delegation's senior member, having served in the House from 1993-1999 and in the Senate since 1999. Simpson replaced Crapo in the House in 1999. Idaho's other two GOP lawmakers, Sen. Jim Risch and Rep. Raul Labrador, oppose raising taxes.
The list of award recipients:
Crapo, Warner and fellow Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Thomas Carper, D-Del.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Angus King, I-Me.; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
Simpson, Boehner and Hoyer and Reps. John Carney, D-Del.; Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.; Charlie Dent, R-Pa.; Jim Himes, D-Conn.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Jim Renacci, R-Ohio; Reid Ribble, R-Wisc.; Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.; Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz.; and Peter Welch, D-Vt.