Politicos weigh in on tea bagging

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While Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch sent boastful letters to Idaho Tea Partiers this week, and Rep. Mike Simpson sent good tidings as well, Idaho Democrats had a a message for the throngs as well.


The Idaho Democratic Party released the following statement on the “tea parties,” laying blame for deficits and corporate malfeasance on the Bush Administration and praising Rep. Walt Minnick's leadership:
"Idahoans agree that we must take aggressive action to get our country out of the current recession. Americans are frustrated that eight years of irresponsible policies pursued by the Bush administration have left the economy in a shambles with record deficits, record unemployment and record home foreclosures...

Eight years ago, our nation enjoyed a budget surplus, record levels of employment and a robust housing market. All of that was squandered away by deficit-financed tax cuts for the very richest Americans, the foolish and unnecessary war in Iraq and business deregulation that left our financial system at the mercy of greedy Wall Street manipulators. But with leadership from people such as Congressman Walt Minnick and Democratic lawmakers in our state legislature, we will get through these tough times and be stronger for the future."
Minnick, who spoke at the Boise Young Professionals Lounging Series the night of the Tea Parties, called the gatherings, "a fine exercise in Democracy."

"Deficits do matter," Minnick said. "I want the U.S. to get back to paying for what we spend."

But Minnick also laid some blame on the previous administration, saying we went to war and cut taxes.

"I just hope these tax protestors today will focus on debt reduction," he said. "They were largely silent during the Bush administration."

Sen. Jim Risch addressed the Tea Partiers in a letter:
"Dear Tea Party Participants,

It is great to see Americans exercising their constitutional rights. As your elected representative, I want to let you know what I have been doing to promote a fiscally-responsible government.

In the three months since I took office there has been an unprecedented increase in government spending with the release of additional TARP (Toxic Assets Relief Program) funds, the so-called stimulus package and the FY 2009 and 2010 budgets. In all four cases I urged my Senate colleagues to slow the process down, thoroughly debate the bills, and remove wasteful spending. In the end, I could not persuade them to enact responsible legislation so I voted against each of those measures.

In an effort to improve the bills, I did support a number of amendments, a few of which were passed. Those items include the following:

· An amendment to strip $7.7 billion in earmarks from the FY 09 appropriation bill
· An amendment to make the marriage penalty tax relief permanent
· An amendment to provide up to $15,000 in tax credits for home purchases (it was reduced to $8,000 in a conference committee)
· Co-sponsored a substitute to the stimulus bill that would have had zero cost
· Co-sponsored a bill to investigate the near collapse of the U.S. financial system
· Supported a budget freeze for FY 2009
· Supported an amendment to prevent taxpayer-funded bailouts for automakers
· Supported the establishment of a reserve-fund to address our national debt
· Supported an amendment to end automatic pay raises for Congress
· Supported an amendment to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from spending funds to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine

Although my efforts to rein in spending have in many cases been unsuccessful, I remain committed to restoring solid fiscal principles to government. I have signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill by Senator Jim DeMint that calls for a ban on earmarks. I am working on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to ensure that the new package of energy legislation expected later this year is both reasonable and fiscally responsible. And I am always looking for ways to end government’s uncontrolled appetite for spending.

These are difficult times for America, but together, we can make a difference and return our country back to fiscal responsibility.

Very Truly Yours,
James E. Risch"
This afternoon, Risch addressed the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and held up a chart showing deficits over the years, with a sharp red line falling as Obama's budget passed.

"When you see this, you're going to say, 'give me a George Bush deficit,'" Risch said.

Not to be outdone, Crapo also penned a missive to Tea Baggers, and sent a representative to address the group in Boise.

"How many of you think big government is back?" shouted Crapo natural resources advisor Layne Bangerter. Bryan Fischer, who led the festivities, joked that they ought to send a photo of Bangerter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to show her what kind of right-wing extremists were protesting.
CRAPO COMMENDS TAX PROTESTS, DEFICIT AWARENESS
Sends letter to Idahoans rallying today

Washington, DC – In a demonstration of support, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo told Idahoans who are protesting high federal deficits and tax increases through “tea parties” today that he supports their efforts and has the voting record to demonstrate that. He also noted the similarities between today’s events and his protest 12 years ago when he dumped the U.S. Tax Code into the Boston Harbor. As a member of Congress in 1997, Crapo joined with a handful of other members of the U.S. House of Representatives to toss a copy into the Harbor, re-enacting the famous protest by American colonists.

Crapo addressed today’s tax rallies through a written letter, as he was unable to participate in person; he is hosting forums on federal health care reform in Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston. He sent letters through staff members attending the events. The letter reads as follows:

Many Americans are joining together today across the nation to take a stand against the injustice of excess taxes and spending. These are historic events that, as you know, mirror the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773, in which the colonists demonstrated their frustration and displeasure with the extent of the British Parliament’s sovereignty over the colonies. While today’s gatherings around the country focus on excessive spending, a common theme then and now is unfair taxes.

Those of you gathered here today are suffering the burden of the extreme spending that the federal government has engaged in over the past year. Let me recount the unbridled spending legislation passed by Congress since last spring, every one of which I opposed and voted against:

· The Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill,
· The 2008 stimulus bill which included the rebate checks,
· The Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations Continuing Resolution,
· The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (otherwise known as TARP 1 and TARP 2),
· The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (otherwise known as the stimulus bill of 2009),
· The Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill.

These seven pieces of legislation total a staggering 3.2 trillion in taxpayer dollars.

I opposed and voted against each one of these. In fact, each time a vote came up, I warned that while Idahoans and Americans across the country were cutting back on their spending during difficult times, Congress and the Administration were proposing to further increase federal spending to unprecedented levels and increase the public debt, placing an additional debt burden of tens of thousands of dollars on the head of every single American.

This is your money; you deserve to see clearly how spending decisions by the Congress are reflected in a rising national debt that will be placed on our children and grandchildren. To no avail, I reminded my colleagues that we have relied far too heavily on spending and debt creation in hopes that we can revive the economy. In fact, small business creates 90 percent of the jobs in our economy, not the federal government. We need to increase incentives for business and rework our tax policy to encourage job creation and new investment in the American economy. The last thing we need during these difficult economic times is a tax increase.

$3.2 trillion represents grossly-inflated and fiscally-irresponsible expenditures of taxpayer dollars. We cannot spend ourselves into prosperity. Tripling federal programs is not the answer to economic stimulus, and it’s certainly not the answer to sustainable growth of small business—the heart and soul of our economy.

Debts in the trillions; expiring tax cuts; unchecked entitlement growth—it’s government run amok, or, as many here in Idaho have heard me say over the past few months: hold on, Big Government is back. Back in 1994, when I was a Member of the House of Representatives, I joined a few of my colleagues in the Boston Harbor on the very ship on which the original Boston Tea Party was held for a re-enactment of that event. At that time, we physically threw the Internal Revenue Code in Boston Harbor. My friends, today, you are having another Tea Party because we must continue to remain vigilant and active against excessive, unfair and outrageous government spending and taxation. My feelings about taxes remain unchanged. Limited government is best, and taxpayers know better than Congress how to allocate their hard-earned dollars.

I commend you all on your efforts today. Continue to let your elected officials know how you feel about how your hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being spent, not just today, but until your voices are heard and change truly happens.

In the short term, the vast majority of economists agree that some immediate public investment is critical to jump start the economy and get Americans back to work. Once our economy has recovered from this devastating downturn, President Obama is committed to reducing the deficit and returning to the balanced budgets that disappeared eight years ago. Idaho Democrats share that commitment to fiscal responsibility.

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