Well folks, we were hoping to report back about how Mike Simpson responded to questions during his 1.5 hour appearance in Boise, but we can’t — he didn’t take questions publicly.
We’ll paint the picture for you.
We attended the $45.00 per plate luncheon to hear from the Congressman and to ask a question or two publicly, since he “doesn’t like to participate in that” thing called a town hall meeting. (It’s not too late to send each Representative an email demanding a town hall – do it here.)
Simpson gave a thorough presentation about the national budget, the deficit, appropriations, mandatory spending vs. discretionary spending and how they have a tough job in D.C. getting folks to agree.
He distanced himself from Trump and the extreme right wing many times during his speech. He said in addition to the budget he’d address (in his own words) “the crazy things going on in Washington.”
He talked about attempts by the right wing to save money by slashing and burning the EPA. He let us know he’s not down with getting rid of the EPA, and he snarked about how the radical right is threatening to defund any work around climate change. We appreciated his attempt to sound reasonable, and to not be arrogant or dismissive like Labrador was months ago at the same luncheon, but it’s not good enough to say the “right things” to a room full of people one day and then roll over when it comes to voting for harmful policies another day as he’s done in the past few weeks, see our stories here.
I caught up with Simpson on his way out the door. With all of his talk about discretionary spending and making decisions on how to save money, I had to ask him the most obvious question: what about Trump’s lavish lifestyle continuing at the expense of taxpayers? In less than 90 days, Trump has spent over $21 million dollars on trips to Mar-a-Lago. At this rate, it will be $336 million spent on travel to his Florida mansion over the next four years (if he continues to be president, that is). To give perspective, Obama spent $98 million total during eight years in office.
After laying these numbers down, I asked Simpson “what do you think about this and what will you do in your role on the appropriations committee to address this?”
He said he thinks it’s “crazy spending” and that he “believes it will be addressed in the committee and it will get taken care of.”
We are getting robbed, folks. Robbed by a man who thinks he’s king and deserves endless trips to his palace. And we’re getting robbed at home by elected officials who refuse to hold public meetings and who have made a life out of being comfy politicians who are not amenable to public input.
Here is some inspiration, though, from a recent article in Time Magazine. There is a new generation of grassroots activists that are grooming themselves for public office across the country. Let’s hope this trend rolls over into Idaho where there will be more open seats in 2018 than we’ve seen in a generation.
Smart, young, progressive activists, now is the time to run for state and local offices. Seriously, if you’ve ever thought about being a candidate, don’t think twice. You are needed and you will have support. In the meantime, we’ll continue to follow our elected officials and shine a light in dark places.