Sen. Mike Crapo is calling folks again tonight in one of his iTownHall Meetings. You were supposed to sign up for the call by Monday, but could still try. Send an email to info_iTownHall@crapo.senate.gov with "Future Meetings" as the subject line to request a call.
Crapo does these phone chats with constituents on a quarterly basis. You can listen to past forums on Crapo's Senate Web site.
Crapo tends to agree with his callers in expert political fashion, and then state his opinion, as this clip from Feb. 11 demonstrates:
Yes, Sen. Crapo said, "Hi Vern," to the caller, who is complaining about Lehman Bros. owning property in the Wood River Valley, or something.
Crapo also speaks frequently about budgets and the stimulus package in his constituent calls. Here is a snippet from the transcript of the May 13 call.
Doug (Idaho Falls): Yes, Senator Crapo, thanks for taking my call. I’ve got a question. I just have this bad feeling that the administration is going to be looking for another stimulus plan. My concern was, with the $787 billion stimulus that we have, it’s going towards short-term fixes, you know, band aid effects. In other words, the money’s going to projects to replace boilers, paint bridges and fix roads, but that’s short term. Why can’t we push for a stimulus package that will support growth in small business which would also support long-term growth and employment prospects?
Senator Crapo: Well, Doug, that’s an excellent question, and I strongly agree with you in terms of your observations about our last stimulus package. As you know, I voted against this package because, frankly, it was based on the principle that we’ve followed far too often in Washington that you can simply “spend yourself into prosperity.” And, the reality is even if one accepts the theory that we should spend ourselves into prosperity, this bill did not do that very well. It really, in my opinion, was very wasteful spending in large part, and ultimately will have nothing more than, as you indicated, a short-term stimulative impact. And while having that short-term stimulative impact might be helpful for a few months, the bottom line is we’ve added over $800 billion of debt to our children and our grandchildren.
With regard to another stimulus package, you are also correct there are also those who are talking about another stimulus package. I don’t believe that we should have another stimulus package at this point because I think it’s time for the federal government to stop the overspending and to allow the market to do some adjusting. And, although that will result in us having some difficult, rocky economic times, we will more quickly clear the balance sheets of the bad debts that are out there that are hurting our system, rather than what we are doing which is substituting taxpayers for the bondholders of many of these large corporations’ debts.
If there is a second package, you are also correct. We’re going to need to make sure that it’s focused on the kind of long-term infrastructure things that our country would have been paying for anyway. That’s the one kind of stimulus that actually works, in my opinion, in a long-term and in a proper way, namely to undertake those kinds of expenditures that the government would have undertaken anyway, only to do them sooner. We’re finding out that that does have an immediate stimulative impact. And we are also finding out that it generally results in a lower overall cost to the taxpayer. So, although I don’t agree we should have a second stimulus package, I do believe that if there is a second one, that your points are correct about spending it on the right kinds of long-term impacts.
And the list of pork projects that Crapo and Sen. Jim Risch have managed to get through the Senate Appropriations Committee for the 2010 Federal Budget is below. They still must be approved by the rest of Congress. Ask him about the spending if you get on the call...
Idaho National Laboratory: Idaho Cleanup Project, $65 million; Idaho Facilities Management, Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), $12.7 million; Gen IV, LWR Sustainability program, $10 million
ISU Accelerator Center in Pocatello, $1.5 million
Rural Idaho environmental infrastructure projects, $2 million, including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Paradise Creek and other Corps projects
Rangeland Ecosystem Dynamics (Owyhee Initiative science center), $300,000
Potato Cyst Nematode national eradication efforts, $8.327 million
Potato Research, $1.037 million
Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, $650,000
Wood and Biomass Forest Utilization efforts in ten states, including Idaho, $4.841 million
Barley for Rural Development, Idaho and Montana, $547,000
Small Fruit Research, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, $300,000
Cool Season Legume Research, Idaho, North Dakota, Washington, $350,000
Alternative Crops, national research funding, $850,000
Tri-State Predator Control Program, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming $926,000
Nez Perce Bio-Control Center, Idaho, $176,000.