Heidi Heitkamp’s Campaign Promises Already Looking Unlikely


Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp has a column in today’s newspapers laying out her “priorities” for when she begins service in Congress. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what she says are her priorities, and how things are already shaping up out in Washington DC.

For instance, Heitkamp is promising to reach across the aisle to Republicans:

During my time as attorney general in North Dakota, crossing the aisle to get something done wasn’t a luxury but a way of life. Today the issues are different, but the need to work with both sides remains.

So how will Heitkamp accomplish this goal of reaching across the aisle? Well, it appears as though one of her first votes as a Senator may be to make good on a promise she made to other liberal Democrats to help gut the filibuster.

I guess removing the Senate’s protections for the minority party so that the majority party can steamroll them is Heitkamp’s idea of working together.

Next, Heitkamp says that her “No. 1 job is to see a farm bill finally passed and signed into law.” But later in her column she also says that the budget is a priority:

Finally, it’s clear that we can’t continue on the same path when it comes to the federal budget. Twelve years ago, former President Bill Clinton put us on course to retire the nation’s debt by 2013. But since he left office, the federal government has accumulated a debt of more than $16 trillion.

Under the control of Heitkamp’s North Dakota colleague Kent Conrad, the Senate Budget Committee hasn’t passed a budget since fiscal year 2009. The incoming Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray has already said that Democrats in the Senate aren’t interested in passing a budget for next year either. But Heitkamp’s #1 concern is the farm bill?

How can we have a farm bill without a budget? And when will Heitkamp, who has vowed to stand up to her own party, lambaste her party for abandoning the budget process entirely? Not any time soon, I expect. Those words about standing up to her party are just that. Words spoken on the campaign trail by a candidate desperate to be elected.

Finally, Heitkamp is also positioning herself as a fiscal hawk much like her predecessor Kent Conrad. But also like Conrad, it’s pretty clear she shouldn’t be taken seriously. Heitkamp wants to balance the budget without touching the biggest budget problems, which are entitlements:

I’m focused on a balanced approach that will allow us to honor the promises we made to seniors who rely on Social Security and Medicare and continue to make investments in education, our infrastructure and technological innovation. That means working with both sides to cut spending, but also asking those who make more than $1 million a year —in North Dakota, that’s no more than 645 taxpayers — to help reduce the deficit.

So Heitkamp is for tax hikes, and spending cuts, but not to the biggest problem areas. In fiscal year 2011 Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the interest on the national debt and other “mandatory” federal spending totaled 62% of the budget. The remaining 38% of the budget, totaling roughly $1.346 trillion in spending including military and all discretionary budget items, would have to be almost entirely wiped out to close last year’s $1.114 trillion budget deficit.

Heitkamp, then, isn’t serious about deficit reduction. And that’s not based on some ideologically-driven analysis of her positions. It’s math.

But then, why should we take Heitkamp’s promises seriously? She said what she had to say to North Dakotans to get elected so that she could be a consistent, loyal vote for the liberal Democrats that run the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will get a good return on the millions he invested into electing Heitkamp.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • JanneMyrdal

    Well said Rob. Keep on keeping her accountable for every word!

    • Roy_Bean

      We have to learn to move on. You realize that Wednesday, November 7th was the dawn of a bright new day and we can’t dwell on the past don’t you? Times have changed since way back on November 5th and Heidi has to deal with the present.

  • Captornado

    She’s a career politician. It’s not surprising that what she says and what she does seldom will be the same.

  • Harold

    Heidi is like all politicians whether you voted for her or them doesn’t make much difference to me. I always hope they will do the right thing and help the middle class. Republicans think helping the middle class is done through helping the rich and let things trickle down. Democrats talk a good game but always help the very rich just like the repubs do and in the end middle class is made to compete with 3rd world countries for jobs because of world trade which is unfair to america, we get hosed by it. Repubs cut tax’s and dems raise tax’s, and we sit back and wonder how were even gonna survive in todays world and america as it now is. Our economic collapse was caused by Wall Street and Big Banks under both Clinton and mainly under Bush, and Obama came on the picture promising to punish those who brought this calamity upon the rest of us, to date no one under Clinton, Bush or Obama as had any criminal charges brought against them. They remain free to keep doing what they did to us all under all 3 of these presidents. Crimes were committed everyone knows that yet not one person from the rich class on wall street and big banks has been brought to justice. Ask yourselves who really represents the middle class, I say no one does in WAshington.

  • $8194357

    The World’s Hatred

    18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

    19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

    20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

    Where do lies come from?

  • Dakotacyr

    Her promise was to protect Medicare, Social security and Medicaid. So why should she do what you want in those areas. She promised to push the farm bill and wants a seat on the AG committee.

    She supports higher taxes in the rich. That will happen. She wants to end the unpaid for wars, that will happen.

    Your problem is a severe case of sour grapes.

  • Fonz

    Hmmm… wasn’t it Ronald Reagan who said “‘Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outflow of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit,”… and wouldn’t SS not be an issue if it’s money wasn’t artificially removed and redirected towards other goals of Congress?

  • Yogibare

    Up until the past two years Social Security took in about as much as was paid out; then came the payroll tax reduction which put SSS into a shortfall which continues to this day. So the checks written are using money that really isn’t there; that gets pulled from the federal money adding to the deficit.
    This does not take into account the regular “borrowing” by the federal gov. of SSS money and the replacement of that money with IOU’s in the so-called “lock-box”. The IOU’s must now be paid back! Guess where that money will come from!
    I’ll help you with the answer: it will come from the annual deficit of the federal expenditure—-now over one trillion dollars per year, with no end in sight!
    We can say this is not a Fiscal Cliff. It is really a fiscal disaster!

  • kevindf

    Who is she trying to kid; there are very few Republicans in ND.