Who would co-sponsor a bill and then vote against it? Six Republican Senators including Idaho’s “Deficit Peacock”, Mike Crapo, that is who.*
Until Obama’s State of the Union speech, Crapo proudly proclaimed that he was a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Conrad-Gregg “Fiscal Task Force.” The Task Force would create an 18 member commission who would devise a deficit reduction blueprint after the November elections that would be voted on before the new Congress convenes next year.
Republicans claimed the Fiscal Task Force as their own. It gave them a great way to attack the “tax and spend” Obama administration. Here, for example is what Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell , said last May:
We must address the issue of entitlement spending now before it is too late. As I have said many times before, the best way to address the crisis is the Conrad-Gregg proposal, which would provide an expedited pathway for fixing these profound long-term challenges. This plan would force us to get debt and spending under control. It deserves support from both sides of the aisle.
Always on the lookout for a way to increase his fiscal hawk cred, Crapo became an enthusiastic co-sponsor of the bill. So what caused the about face? President Obama endorsed the task force in his State of the Union.
Well, Crapo and his fellow Republican co-sponsors couldn’t find themselves in the position of supporting anything Obama favored, so, just prior to the SOTU, they withdrew their support. Commenting on McConnell’s vote against the legislation in an editorial in the Washington Post, Fred Hiatt said “No single vote could embody the full cynicism and cowardice of our political elite at its worst”. The same can be said about the cowardly seven co-sponsors.
Of course, after withdrawing their support, the seven Republican lemmings, including Crapo, voted against the bill. PolitiFact.com summarizes:
…on Jan. 26, 2010, when the Conrad-Gregg bill, originally introduced as S. 2853, came for a vote in the Senate, it fell seven votes shy of the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for passage, garnering 53 yeas and 46 nays, with one senator not voting.
The measure would have passed with 60 votes if only seven additional Republicans who had co-sponsored S. 2853 voted for it. Instead, those seven — Robert Bennett of Utah, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, John Ensign of Nevada, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona — withdrew their co-sponsorship in the days before the vote and then voted against it on the floor.
While McConnell and McCain have caught a bit of flak from the national media, Crapo flies under the radar as usual. Let me know if any local media point out the hypocracy. I won’t hold my breath.
* Paul Krugman calls anyone who claims to be a deficit “hawk” simply for political gain a deficit “peacock” and no one fits that description better than Crapo.