In a pre-primary election interview with IdahoReporter.com, Republican Congressmen Mike Simpson, serving Idaho's 2nd Congressional District, said that the national debt is a national security concern, federal health care reforms must be repealed, and that he listened to experts when determining his vote for Temporary Asset Relief Program, otherwise known as TARP.
Simpson, who faces a five-way race for the Republican primary to be held on May 25, said he believes the budget deficits, excessive government spending, and the growing national debt, plus health care reforms, will all be on the minds of voters in both the May primary and the November general election. On health care reforms, Simpson said that he wished it never passed, and that he believes it will be much more expensive than some believe. He added that that the law may be unconstitutional, and that the states are right to sue the federal government over reforms. Provisions in the law which favor some states over others in terms of Medicaid funding and the individual mandate that will eventually force citizens of the country to purchase a private good are both factors that he believes may call the constitutionality of the bill into question in courts.
On the budget, the debt, and the deficit, Simpson said that he agrees with the assessment of others that the debt is a national security concern. He believes that foreign interests holding large amounts of American debt could eventually be a threat to the safety and security of the country. In order to help pay off the debt and stop deficit spending, he wants to lower taxes for small business owners, thereby making it cheaper for companies to hire labor, which will increase tax revenues for the government. He also said that the feds need to "quit spending so much money," and that he supports a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that would require Congress to have a balanced budget each year.
When asked about his controversial TARP vote, Simpson said that he expects it to be a major issue in campaigning, but believes he did the right thing after listening to the testimony of experts on the financial woes of the lending industry.
"I felt that we had to do something," said Simpson. "I didn't like voting for it." He said that after listening to Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary, and Ben Bernanke, chair of the Federal Reserve, both of whom he described as "scared" during testimony, he felt that a vote for TARP was necessary. He hasn't supported the controversial program throughout its duration, however. The program was designed to dole out money in two $350 billion lump sums, the second requiring congressional approval. Simpson voted against the second round of funding because he felt the first amount was used improperly and unwisely. Ultimately, he believes that the taxpayers stand to make a profit on the deal when all is said and done because of the rates of repayments from companies.
Two large and very controversial issues, immigration and cap and trade legislation, may be addressed by Congress before the end of the year, but Simpson said that he would be surprised if either of them were enacted into law. He said that the cap and trade bill, which sponsors believe will help to curb global warming, "would be extremely damaging to the economy."
On immigration, Simpson said that the first priority for the nation is securing the border and closing the "revolving door" for those deported who try to get back into the country. He said that Congress must enact a "guest worker program that actually works" so that farmers and ranchers can have access to legal labor forces. He also said that police forces, specifically Immigration and Nationalization Services, should focus on cracking down on gang violence and not raid factories where people are being productive. For Simpson, one of the commonly discussed solutions for immigration woes, amnesty, is not an option. "I would take amnesty off the table," said Simpson. He said that deportation and legal re-entry of all those in the nation illegally is the proper way to go about things.
On politics generally, he said that he believes that Republicans will retake the House in November, but likely won't capture the Senate, though he expects gains there. Locally, he wouldn't endorse Vaughn Ward or Raul Labrador in the 1st Congressional District Republican primary, both of whom are vying to face Democrat incumbent Walt Minnick in the general election. He said that he believes the people should decide who that will be and that he will support whoever wins the primary contest.