Thursday morning, I sent an email to Idaho’s 2nd District Representative Mike Simpson applauding his vote to end the government shutdown. I also asked for an explanation of why he voted for the shutdown in the first place when he knew as well as I what the outcome would be. Thus far, all I have received in response is this form email letter:
As you may know, I voted in support of H.R. 2775, the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, to re-open the federal government, avoid default on our nation’s debt, and preserve the historic spending cuts Republicans have won in Congress over the last three years. It passed in the House by a vote of 285-144 after passing the Senate and has been signed into law by the President.
Of course I know that. I’d been writing him repeatedly over the previous two weeks urging just that!
My vote was about the thousands of people facing layoffs at INL, the multitude of businesses across Idaho that told me their livelihoods were at stake and the millions of folks across the country who couldn’t afford the devastating impacts of default on their investments and retirements. I strongly believe there has to be a way to address our nation’s fiscal problems without making them worse in the process. [emphasis added] That is the result I will continue working toward during the time we’ve afforded ourselves with this agreement.
Simpson knew going in that a government shutdown would bring about these problems for his constituents, yet voted to effect the closure, and voted to end it after 16 days, the day before the furlough of those thousands of INL employees was to take effect.
The fight over Obamacare may now move to another venue, but the fight is far from over. While I strongly believe we should continue working to delay the entire law for one year, I also believe that Obamacare may collapse of its own weight. I have always said that it won’t work. I don’t believe it will contain costs. I don’t believe it will improve access. And I certainly don’t believe that it can survive the scrutiny it is sure to receive once it is fully implemented and its impacts are fully realized. At that point, Republicans will have a much stronger hand.
It was the votes of Simpson and his fellow Republicans that tried, unsuccessfully, to move the fight over Obamacare to the government shutdown “venue.” Before the shutdown, Simpson said that shutting down the government was not the correct venue for trying to derail Obamacare. So why in late September did he vote twice for versions of Huse Joint Resolution 59 that would keep the government funded through December 15 only if Obamacare were delayed for one year? “The one year delay in Obamacare just makes sense,” Simpson said in support of his vote. Three days before the shutdown, Simpson also voted to continue to pay members of the armed forces and his own personal bill to keep national parks and monuments open if the government shutdown. They passed only in the House.
This bill [H.R. 2775], while far from perfect, preserves the progress Republicans have made in reducing spending and moving toward a balanced budget. It ensures thousands of people in eastern Idaho won’t lose their jobs at INL, ends the uncertainty for Idaho businesses that have been impacted by the shutdown and are terrified of default, and it gives Congress the time to approach our budget challenges in an honest, collaborative, comprehensive, and enduring way over the next few months. I am deeply hopeful that we will now look toward a grand bargain, or ‘big’ solution that includes spending cuts, tax reform, and entitlement reform. The American people understand that doing so will require tough decisions, difficult sacrifices, and political courage. I am ready to face those tough decisions and I hope a majority of my colleagues in the House and Senate are ready to do so as well.
I’m not holding my breath. Of course, the “progress” in reducing spending and moving toward a balanced budget was the bipartisan “sequestration” that cut government expenditures across the board. It is interesting to see Simpson claiming this meat-ax approach to the federal budget, with which few in either party are happy, as a Republican accomplishment.
What is Simpson’s political calculation with this switching back and forth, first publicly acknowledging that hijacking the government to stop Obamacare was not a good idea, then voting twice for HJR 59 and, finally, after 16 days and an estimated $16- to $24-billion hit to the country’s economy, voting to end the shutdown. A glance at the several hundred comments on Simpson’s Facebook page
tells the story of what he’s up against.