Printed on: October 03, 2012

Get back to work

Republican Mike Simpson dropped by the Post Register on Tuesday. The seven-term congressman discussed topics ranging from health care to the deficit, from taxes and spending to the presidential race.

Nice as it is to get the latest straight from the horse's mouth, we wish Simpson had not spent that hour in the publisher's office. Congress is on extended vacation, its members back home stumping for re-election. Given the seriousness of our problems, locally and nationally, it would have been far better had Simpson's Tuesday been occupied with discussions about solving the nation's pressing issues and making sure the sequestration bomb does not go off in our faces.

"Absolutely we should be back there," Simpson said. "We have big problems. The problem is nobody wants to take them on before the election."

The Budget Control Act of 2011 mandated $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade if a deficit plan is not enacted by Jan. 2, 2013. Gridlock ruled, and now a slash-and-burn approach that was never meant to become reality could cost the nation as many as 2 million jobs and devastate national defense, schools, the working poor and Idaho National Laboratory.

Simpson doesn't think sequestration will happen. His theory is that the pain of those cuts would be so profound that members of both parties will be eager to avoid them. Others, including House Speaker John Boehner, aren't so sure.

An analysis conducted by a U.S. Senate subcommittee determined hundreds of Idaho educators could lose jobs, special education would get hammered, child care subsidies chopped, 1,383 fewer Idaho children would receive vaccinations, 817 crisis domestic violence calls would go unanswered, 823 fewer women would be screened for cancer, and on it goes.

Congressional leadership, Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House, don't have the sense to recognize it would be better politically for them to remain in the nation's capital attempting to solve problems. A 13 percent approval rating tells us Americans don't want their federal officials raising money and making promises they will not keep. These folks were elected to solve problems. The average American wants to know why they aren't at least trying to do that. Why they aren't earning that $174,000 paycheck and Cadillac health care and retirement benefits.

Simpson gets that. But, just as he found limited support for his "Go Big" approach to deficit reduction, Simpson's call for Congress to get back to work is destined to fall on deaf ears.

As Congress enjoys its paid vacation amid the countdown to budget Armageddon, we wonder about the 13 percent who like the job Congress is not doing. Is it possible members of Congress have that many family, friends and employees?

Corey Taule