BOISE – Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo sparred with Democratic challenger Tom Sullivan over taxes and federal spending in a televised debate Tuesday night, with Crapo warning that “America is facing very difficult times.”
Crapo said he wants to press “Idaho’s principles in the fight that we will inevitably have for the future of this nation,” and called for extending all the Bush tax cuts.
Sullivan, an eastern Idaho businessman and former Coeur d’Alene restaurant owner, said that would mostly benefit the wealthy. “The real tax cuts are going to the people at the top of the income chain,” he said. I think it’s time that we have a system of fair taxation – not, you know, Mike Crapo’s friends at Goldman Sachs.”
Crapo responded: “That’s the spin we always hear about tax relief – it’s always for the rich people … Everybody’s income tax was reduced.”
In the debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club and broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television, Sullivan was asked, given his struggles with big tax debt in his business, why voters should choose him to replace Crapo, the state’s senior senator who holds a key finance committee position.
“Because I have been the one who has been able to pay down my debt,” Sullivan said, saying Crapo wasn’t able to reduce the national debt. “I was caught up in this 2008 downturn. I’m not complaining, I’m not crying, I rolled up my sleeves and I got to work and I’ve paid it off, nearly completely paid it off.”
Crapo declined to comment on Sullivan’s tax issues. “I have not made it an issue in my campaign,” he said.
Asked if he should be accepting campaign contributions from bankers, and whether he’ll continue to do so as he decides major financial issues in the Senate, Crapo said, “Yes. My record … is very solid.” Businesses, he said, “support the kinds of policies I support, and that’s why I have received their support.”
Crapo is seeking a third term in the Senate; it’s Sullivan’s first run for office. Also on the ballot is Constitution Party candidate Randy Lynn Bergquist of Fruitland.