(Chris Chocola) – The Political Action Committee of the Club for Growth, of which I am the president, has endorsed Idaho Falls lawyer and taxpayer hero Bryan Smith for Congress in Idaho’s Second Congressional District. The reason is simple – Bryan Smith supports lower taxes, less government, and economic freedom, while incumbent Representative Mike Simpson does not.
It’s not just that Mike Simpson boasts an abysmal 58 percent on the Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard, or that Citizens Against Government Waste has called Simpson “hostile” to the Taxpayer, or that Heritage Action for America gave Simpson a 47 percent last year. (By way of comparison, Idaho’s First District Congressman Raul Labrador has a lifetime 99 percent on our Scorecard, is called a “Hero” by CAGW, and received an 87 percent from Heritage.)
It’s not just that Simpson is a career politician, who has been in public office since 1984 while opposing term limits every chance he gets. Or that he voted to bail out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion and voted to spend billions on wasteful pork projects outside of Idaho such as a Lobster Institute in Maine, new exhibits at a Jazz Museum in Kansas City, and shellfish research in New Jersey. All of which he did while voting to raise his own pay nine times.
It’s not just the fact that he is one of the only Republicans serving today in Congress who opposed a plan to allow school vouchers in the District of Columbia, and that his skepticism of using standardized tests to measure teacher performance is one of the reasons cited by the Idaho teachers union when they endorsed him for the sixth election cycle in a row last year.
No, it’s not just that all of those things are good reasons for replacing Mike Simpson with Bryan Smith. It’s also that Mike Simpson has been telling his constituents in Idaho that he’s a good fiscal conservative for years, while turning around and voting for bigger government in Washington.
Consider that, when he first ran for Congress, Mike Simpson signed a pledge to the people of Idaho promising never to vote for tax increases. However, in Washington, he tells reporters, “I didn’t know I was signing a marriage agreement that would last forever, and I think the majority of members of Congress understand that you have to have additional revenue.”
Or consider that, In a 2007 op-ed in an Idaho newspaper, Mike Simpson opposed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), calling it “a step toward national health care” and writing that it includes “a stealth provision to raise taxes on every American with private insurance.”
But, in Washington, less than two months later, he voted for SCHIP, telling Idaho voters that it was a good deal for the taxpayers … even as Republican President George W. Bush twice vetoed the legislation. Simpson was even one of fewer than 50 Republicans who worked with Democrats to override Bush’s veto.
Or consider that, just a few months ago, Mike Simpson put out a press release from his official office touting cuts to the EPA’s budget. But on the floor of the House of Representatives, Simpson has defended the existence of the EPA, saying “We can’t just do away with the EPA,” and “We don’t want to eliminate the EPA.” And when he ran for Congress, Simpson claimed that he would vote against all foreign aid until America solved its budget situation.
That promise turned out to be laughable, as Simpson, who has long coveted a seat on the House appropriations committee, rarely votes against any spending bill.
Even now, Mike Simpson’s allies in the media and in the Washington establishment are decrying the endorsement of the Club for Growth PAC of Bryan Smith. They are defending the same Mike Simpson who has raked in millions of dollars in PAC money over his career, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from registered lobbyists and industries that he regulates. Given his record, it’s no wonder they want to keep him right where he is.
What politicians like Mike Simpson never understand is this: outside groups and their supporters don’t get to pick who their representatives are. The voters do. And all that matters to them is how their Congressman votes. And I suspect the more that his constituents learn about Mike Simpson’s record in Washington, the more they’ll think that after decades in office, it’s time for a change.
(Chris Chocola is the President of the Club for Growth)