Capitol & State

Mike Simpson's spud advocacy puts him in hilarious waiter's outfit

Thursday's Idaho Falls Post Register depicts Congressman Mike Simpson in a press agent's Page 1 dream — wearing a tux and serving up a giant baked potato as an illustration of his battle to restore white potatoes to a federal nutrition program.

Simpson is continuing his fight against a 2009 Obama administration rule that explicitly excludes white potatoes — and only white potatoes — from fresh produce eligible for purchase under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. The program provides monthly vouchers to low-income pregnant women, mothers and children.

According to the Post Register's Bryan Clark, Simpson is using his juice as one of 12 subcommittee chairmen on the House Appropriations Committee to end the exclusion. Clark's story is accompanied by Ben Kennedy's photo illustration of a svelte and beaming Simpson. (In real life, Simpson's diet of buttered bakers has made him a smidge stockier).

Simpson has introduced a provision into the agriculture budget to bar spending to implement the spud ban.

"That move has drawn the ire of the White House,which contends Simpson is inserting politics into the program, when it ought to be science-based," says the Post Register story, available only to subscribers. "Simpson counters that the science is part of the issue and points out that research cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a decade old."

Debate on the budget could come before the August congressional recess, says the Post Register.