Simpson, champion of earmarks, blasts both parties for deficits

Idaho’s U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson is telling his colleagues and the Obama administration that bickering over which party is responsible for a record national debt must end.

Simpson, a Republican member of the House Budget Committee, engaged with White House Budget Director Peter Orszag during a hearing Tuesday on President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget. Simpson is an original cosponsor of House Joint Resolution 1, a constitutional amendment requiring balanced annual federal budgets.

After an exchange between Democrats and Republicans over which party is to blame for the debt, Simpson told Orzag:

“If anybody wants to understand what the problem is in Washington, D.C., all they need to do is listen to the debate that’s gone on here, pointing fingers and trying to decide who’s to blame. The reality is the American people don’t care who’s to blame, they just want the problem solved.”

Added Simpson: “This budget is not fiscally responsible over the long term, and what the American people are saying is we need to quit spending money, it’s that simple.”

On Wednesday, after word of his sharp critique spread, Simpson spoke with the Idaho Statesman and explained that he hadn't planned the public scolding.

Simpson's turn to speak came about an hour into the hearing and by then, he said, he'd grown weary of rhetoric on both sides.

"Republicans were throwing up slides showing the deficit when we were in charge and when the Democrats were in charge and the Democrats were countering with, 'It's your fault, it's your fault, the Bush tax cuts.' I just got sick listening to it. And I think the American people have heard enough of it."

Simpson is the only Idahoan on either of the Appropriations committees and is the top Republican on the House Appropriations Interior and Related Agencies subcommittee. He defended his annual effort to deliver hundreds of millions of federal dollars to Idaho, including cash for the Idaho National Laboratory, the state’s universities and Boise's geothermal system.

Simpson said earmarks, which represent about 2 percent of discretionary spending, do not increase overall spending. Spending caps are set by budget resolution and earmarks fall under those limits. Earmarks allow Congress to designate spending to specific programs rather than cede all authority to the agencies, he said.

"It does not add to spending," Simpson said. "I'm tired of people who just look at earmarks and assume it's wasteful spending. It's not. It's vetted."

Earmarks and their sponsors are published for all to see, he added, a reform that came after scandals connecting earmarks to favors done for members of Congress. "Earmarks are much more transparent," he said.

Simpson has taken heat for securing preservation funds for historic theaters in Rupert and Rexburg as part of the Save America's Treasures program. He defended that spending Wednesday.

"These were requested by the communities," Simpson said. "As long as the program's there, why not help Idaho with its historical buildings just like the rest of the country?"

The FY 2011 budget is the largest in American history. It spends $3.8 trillion and produces a deficit of $1.6 trillion, borrowing 42 cents for each dollar spent, Simpson said.

“The President’s proposal, though it is only a budget blueprint, illustrates why I believe we need a federal balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” Simpson said in a news release. “If Congress and the President, like any family, are forced to pay for every dollar spent in their budget, a new sense of fiscal responsibility would emerge. These record deficits would stop building on each other, and Congress could actually start reducing our debt, which has ballooned to nearly unsustainable levels.”

The House Budget Committee will soon debate and mark-up the FY2011 federal budget.

To watch Congressman Simpson question Orszag, visit his YouTube page at

You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.

Simpson Sounds Like Obama

Well, Simpson sounded like Obama at the Republican retreat last weekend in the first para above "If anybody wants to understand ...., they just want the problem solved".

But then in the after- the- hearing press release, he reverts to the same old finger pointing he just criticized.

A couple weeks ago the Senate killed, via a fillbuster vote, creation of a bi-partisan committee to develop a bill to solve the long term crisis being driven by Medicare and Social Security costs. The bill required Congress to vote on a bill developed by the committee.

Now Obama is creating a bi-partisan committee but Congress is not required to act.

This is another example of how broken our political process has become. Politicians have kicked the Medicare/SS problems down the road for 15 years. Now that those programs contributions to the national debt are beyond critical, the can got another dent. Why?

No room to cover all the reasons but here is one: Solving Medicare's problems requires a combination of controlling health care costs, raising taxes, or cutting benefits. Obama is taking on health care costs but floundering. What politician is going to run on cutting Medicare benefits or raising taxes?

Here is another:
In 2008, 14,448 registered lobbyists spent $3.3 BILLION to lobby congress. The health care industry "invested" a half billion lobbying dollars in just 2009. Many influence peddling lobbyists are former staffers or members with undue access and sway which is often not in the public's interest.

A system which is corrupt, in which bribery is legal, which is dominated by corporate wealth and special interest funding needs a major overhaul.

Simpson Stinks ...

The guy needs to be booted out. And so does Dan Popkey.

He isn't a legislator...PAY ATTENTION

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

Speaking of Pork

Ok this is a cheap shot but after watching the video, how much weight has Simpson gained since taking a place at the feeding trough in Pork City, USA?

Your point?

A lot of us have gained weight since he was elected. You're right. It's a cheap shot.


We want Chick! We want Chick! We want Chick! Run unconstitutional spenders, Mr. "Federal Money" included, out of town!!

Simpson solicited the Feds

Simpson solicited the Feds to purchase more Idaho potatoes at an increased cost to offset the loss of profit of Idaho farmers due to a high yield year. Welfare at its best.

Balance the Budget NOW!

...That's what both sides say...when the other side is in power.


Simpson & disgraced senator Craig issued a joint report supporting the continued use of earmarks in 2006.

Oh Yeah


Idaho ranks 43rd in earmark funds received, is he just pissed about not getting more?

Fiscal Year08-09 Simpson has 15 solo earmarks totaling $5,553,250.00

Simpson co-sponsored a total of 88 earmarks that totaled $106,491,149.00

193 Earmarks were spent in Idaho total: $413,176,359.00

Odd Simpson earmarks:
$285,000-Appropriations Bill-Labor,HHS,Education
for the Idaho Falls Arts Council to purchase of equipment.

$150,000-Interiors budget-for the Rexburg Westwood Theater.

$285,000-Transportation-HUD budget for Custer County to buy a school building.

$147,000-Transportation-HUD budget for Renaissance Art Center Rupert, Idaho.

The questions Idahoans need answered, who are the actual final recipients of the small earmarks, they appears to be rewards for Simpson campaign supporters.

Custer County was a campaign supporter?

I don't necessarily have a problem with earmarks. At least I know those federal taxes are coming directly back to Idaho for projects in the community. If you look at the history of Simpson's earmarks, they are spread throughout his congressional district. The Idaho delegation (minus Minnick) have brought millions of our tax dollars back to Idaho for such things as education, medical services in rural Idaho, children's services, transportation, environmental cleanup, telemedicine, etc. If congress wants to do away with earmarks, I have no problem with that. But until that happens, some of that money should come back to Idaho. That said, I believe EVERY single earmark should be openly reported and explained.

Since when

Since when is Simpson an advocate of eliminating earmarks. Great pr but little fact and little history to substantiate such.

Get rid of earmarks!

The only true way to get rid of earmarks is to reset the federal government back to the late 1800's when there were no federal taxes and yet people managed to survive. No welfare, no social seccurity, no medicare etc. People just took responsibilty for themselves and helped their neighbors when possible.

The problem now is that the government has their hands on our pocketbooks and they (through their own greed) try to figure out new ways of taking it (ie. earmarks), and spending it in ways in which help them to get re-elected. We the people need to let the government know that they work for us then we won't have to worry about the crooks.

Simpson a leader?

I believe that Simpson should be a leader and not accept earmarks. That way by holding to his principles he can champion himself as a conservative and for small government, and then he can work to get rid of earmarks. Simply saying that he is obligated to take earmarks because that is the status quo is not my idea of a conservative, and it is certainly not holding to your beliefs. He needs to go if he can't be a leader.


I love the twisted logic. Only a politician could possibly come up with the concept that earmarks do not increase spending.

At least he didn't leave himself out...

Like a midair collision with a tugboat