President Clinton sounded like a Republican during much of his state of the union address Tuesday night, Idaho’s congressional delegation said.
Talk of less government, tax cuts and a line item veto were welcome and familiar GOP themes, said the state’s all-Republican contingent.
“If he could just govern like he speaks, the country would be in great shape,” said Rep. Helen Chenoweth, who found her first state of the union speech as a member of Congress “riveting.”
But talk can be as cheap as it was plentiful in Tuesday’s speech, Sen. Larry Craig noted.
“I don’t want to react until I see the fine print,” said Craig.
“We have all learned that we have to watch what this president does, not what he says,” echoed Rep. Mike Crapo.
Craig and Sen. Dirk Kempthorne criticized Clinton for not taking a stand on the proposed balanced budget amendment, while telling Republicans they should spell out how they planned to end deficit spending.
“He was on both sides of that issue. I would have liked a lot more up-front support of the amendment,” Kempthorne said.
Craig said the president doesn’t understand the amendment just sets up a process. He likened it to someone planning to lose 50 pounds in six months. The dieter shouldn’t be required to list his daily food intake, weight loss target and exercise regimen, he said.
Idaho Republicans were leery of Clinton’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage, although Kempthorne said he was sure Congress would agree to study the issue.
Chenoweth said the increase could help adults who are trying to raise families get off welfare, but could also shut teenagers out of the work force.
Craig said he supported the last increase in the minimum wage, but wanted to see details of how soon and how much the standard would go up.
He also accused Clinton of talking out of both sides of his mouth by calling for a higher minimum wage in the same speech that called for fewer federal mandates.
“One of the biggest federal mandates in history is the federal government telling local employers how much they’re going to pay their workers,” Craig said.
Kempthorne said he was interested in Clinton’s proposals for tax-free funds that could be set up to pay for health care costs, college, a first home or care of a parent. He was concerned, however, about the combined impact of all those funds.
He also wondered if Clinton would follow up his Republican rhetoric with actions.
“It tells me that some of the message from the November election is getting through, but I don’t know yet if the resolve is there,” Kempthorne said.