Opinion

Another View: Newspaper weighs in on Labrador-Simpson tiff

Any Idahoan under the impression that all Republicans think alike should look no further than the growing disharmony that has finally boiled over between Idaho Reps. Mike Simpson, R-2nd CD, and Raul Labrador, R-1st CD.

The catalyst that finally led Labrador to unleash on Simpson came when the two split their votes on the Medicare Access Act. Simpson was one of 392 representatives to vote in favor; Labrador one of just 37 in opposition.

The massive spending bill included an unrelated measure to extend funding to the Secure Rural Schools program, added as a stop-gap to replace lost revenue from declining timber harvests on federal lands. The provision will help local government and schools in 35 Idaho counties, which rely heavily on these funds.

Labrador didn’t oppose the measure per se. He’s OK with it as a short-term solution to a long-term problem, the solution for which he says should be reopening lands he calls underutilized to private-sector investments, which would generate the revenue so important to rural communities. He just wanted it as a separate bill.

Regardless of whether you agree with him on opening up more lands to private interests, he’s absolutely right about the knack Congress has for cramming a bunch of totally nonrelated pieces of legislation into one mammoth bill with a title like “The America Loves Kids Act,” then bullying their colleagues into voting for it by threatening to label them “kid haters” if they vote against it based on reasonable opposition to one of those unrelated attachments.

It’s this kind of tactic that has helped lead our nation to an $18 trillion debt. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The actual liabilities of the federal government have surpassed $80 trillion when taking into account unfunded liabilities including Social Security, Medicare and federal employees’ future retirement benefits.

Too many elected officials refuse to seriously confront this problem because they know that such unfathomable numbers can only be reduced with major reform — and in this case, major reform means making cuts. And making cuts means being labeled “uncompassionate.”

But there’s nothing “compassionate” about bankrupting a country. Want to see what follows when you do that? Log on to YouTube and enter “Greece riots” on the search bar.

Impossible, you say? Never happen here because the rest of the world relies on us?

Many economists are saying it’s just a matter of time before the dollar plummets in value. Why? Because we’re devaluing it every day by mounting up debt that has surpassed $56,000 for each and every American.

So you’ll have to forgive Labrador if he comes off as hard and unbending. His concerns are 100 percent legitimate, and it’s why he resonates with conservative voters in a conservative state.

Granted, it’s not pleasant to hear our two House members carping back and forth in public with lines such as “(Simpson) loves to have these relationships where it’s all about making false promises to his constituents” and “This isn’t the first time Congressman Labrador has uttered this nonsense.” But in Washington, where everyone wants to be liked, sometimes you have to ruffle some feathers to take on monumental problems like the debt.

Simpson says he wants to — then turns around and votes for budget-busting budgets and does all he can to keep wasteful programs like the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station . . . Labrador, love him or hate him, has remained dogged on fighting deficits, and on that, his fellow Republicans — Simpson included — can and should learn something.

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