PINGREE — The debate on gun control, trade issues, the national debt, immigration, and the current tone of political discussion were among issues discussed in a town meeting with Republican Sen. Mike Crapo here Friday.
Crapo appeared in front of a group of at least 20 people at the home of Garth and Julie VanOrden in Pingree as part of a swing through unincorporated towns in Idaho. Crapo has previously held town meetings in all 200 of Idaho’s incorporated cities and he said he’s fulfilling a promise to visit unincorporated communities.
The stop in Pingree was the first of four meetings he had scheduled Friday. After stopping at the VanOrden home, he was scheduled to hold a meeting at the Bingham County Road and Bridge Shop in Springfield.
Crapo opened the meeting up to questions from attendees.
The first question was whether he expected to be called back to Washington for debate on gun legislation in light of recent mass shootings. Crapo said he wasn’t expecting that.
He said there is a need to identify the causes of such shootings and to intervene with those individuals who pose a threat. He said Congress has been working on the issue but there has not been a consensus on any solutions.
”I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment,” Crapo said.
Behavioral threat assessments along with discussion on hardening and strengthening background checks are needed, he added.
”We need to be identifying causes and the behavioral threats. We can be much better at identifying threats,” Crapo said. “We need to be working on these things rather than seeing a lot of blame get thrown around.”
Crapo said he supports what has been done in the world trade arena with working on new deals with Canada and Mexico and imposing tariffs on China.
“If we were to let (China’s policies) go, it would get worse and worse,” he said. “It’s a double-edged sword. It will have an impact on our economy as well as their economy. Canada and Mexico did negotiate and they did come to a good agreement.”
Crapo said the House has the votes to approve trade legislation but Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn’t brought anything to the floor, adding that he is hopeful she will move on the issue in September.
“China is one of the most, if not the most aggressive (trade) competitor in the world,” he added. “The impact on us could be resolved if we can get tariffs straightened out.”
ISSUES AFFECTING UPCOMING GENERATION
Crapo was asked by one of the younger attendees in the audience what he felt the major issues were that would affect the upcoming generation the most, and he pointed to the national debt.
“If we don’t solve this issue, every other issue will be negatively impacted,” he added. “We need to control spending and generate revenue.
“We now have one of the world’s most competitive tax codes for businesses. The capital that was going overseas (because of tax codes) is now coming back.”
Crapo said the country has seen economic growth at 2.3 percent, and the economy has far exceeded what was needed for tax cuts to work with the deficit going up less than anticipated.
When it comes to entitlements, he added, he expects to be able to make changes to reduce the debt that would not result in lowering benefits.
Garth VanOrden introduced one of his farm workers, Augustine Duran, to the senator.
VanOrden said Duran is an H-2A worker, granted a temporary agricultural non-immigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.
”Augustine has done it the right way,” VanOrden said. “I can’t tell you how important it is to have a good workforce, and we are in need of good seasonal and full-time people.”
Crapo said there are aspects of immigration that are “crying out for reform. But we’re spending more time working on asylum.”
He said he would continue fighting to get immigration reform through, with a system that is work-oriented and economic-oriented.
TONE OF POLITICAL DISCUSSION
Just before leaving, Crapo heard from a teacher in Pocatello who expressed concern about the tone of discussion when it comes to all levels, from national leadership to everyday citizens.
She expressed concern about dishonesty, disrespect, and racism, and wondered how she is supposed to teach students to act appropriately when the national tone has a problem with incivility.
Crapo said that was something he thought of mentioning earlier when he was asked about issues affecting the upcoming generation.
”This is a much broader issue,” he responded. “The level of discourse is becoming dangerous to our system of government. We need to lead by example. It’s our society we’re dealing with here.
”The political weapon of the day is partisanship and attack. We need to get away from character assassination.”