Since late January 2017, I’ve been confident that Donald Trump would be a one-term President. For anyone with eyes, ears and the ability to read, that wasn’t hard to predict. However, following the Blue rout in Virginia later that year and the 2018 national Blue Wave, the White House became a lock for Democrats in my mind and I grew increasingly optimistic about the Senate. When a January 2020 poll showed Bernie Sanders, of all people, trailing Trump in Texas by only three points – my optimism about the Senate became certainty. Given this Administration’s failure on the pandemic front, Democratic control of the Federal Government is all but written in pen.
While it is unlikely Idaho will go purple anytime soon, it is worth examining what Democratic control of Washington, D.C. could mean for the Gem State. I hate to break it to you: it would be good for most Idahoans.
The news is not all rosy. For starters, Idaho will no longer have a seat at the federal table. We lost that in the House in 2018 when Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson got moved to the minority caucus room. That room is about to get smaller. It could be a lonely few years for both if they are re-elected. The hit on the Senate side will be more pronounced. Assuming that body flips, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo will both lose their committee chair positions (Foreign Relations and Banking respectively) and be relegated to the kid’s table.
Idaho could lose even more clout if the Democrats push through statehood for Washington, D.C. That would mean two more Democratic Senators and at least one House member – the latter of which would be taken from another state. Could that affect Idaho’s future hope of a third congressional district? Hard to say. But, as a nation we only get 435 House seats. It has to come from somewhere.
However, while Idaho’s Right Wing politicians may lose some choice parking spots, working Idahoans stand to gain quite a bit in terms of health, wealth and opportunity from a Democratic federal government.
As noted in previous columns, your health care and that of tens of thousands of Idahoans is in jeopardy. That’s especially true if Amy Coney Barrett gets confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Luckily, a Biden administration will have a chance to not only save the Affordable Care Act, but improve it. That means protection for pre-existing conditions, Medicaid Expansion and hopefully better, cheaper healthcare plans on the exchanges. It could also mean expanded healthcare options for you. Biden is proposing a public option that would allow qualified participants to buy into a government-run healthcare plan. Such an amendment to the ACA could lower health insurance costs across the board – something that would benefit all Idahoans.
We’d all like more money in our paychecks, but that’s especially true for the tens of thousands of Idahoans who make the country’s lowest allowable minimum wage—$7.25/hour. While there are Right Wing elements in our State who don’t even believe in a minimum wage, Idahoans and the rest of the country disagree. Depending on what poll you look at, anywhere from 70 to 80-percent of Idahoans support a minimum wage increase of some kind. A 2019 national poll showed 67-percent support for a $15/hour minimum wage. Whether a Democratic Senate would go that far (the House already passed such a bill last year) is hard to say. However, you can bet there will be a big push to at least raise the minimum wage to double-digits. That would mean a 38-percent raise for minimum wage Idahoans.
Finally, anyone with money in the stock market – including PERSI enrollees – could be in for a pleasant surprise, at least in the short term. The markets spiked earlier this week on growing sentiment that Democratic control will lead to more stimulus money sooner or later. If they can’t get it done now with a divided Congress they will almost certainly do it with a united one. The long-term prospects for the markets are anyone’s guess, but stocks historically do better under Democratic Administrations.
I have no allusions that Joe Biden will win Idaho this year and I know a lot of Right Wing Party members will be sad to see him take the Oath of Office. In the meantime, Idahoans may just have to accept higher wages, better healthcare options and a little more prosperity as a consolation prize.
My apologies ahead of time.
Jeremy J. Gugino is a Democratic communications volunteer.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!