Impeachment talk rages; other work stalls

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In Washington politics, the shrill voices are the ones who tend to get heard, but it’s those who are trying to stay above the fray – such as Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo – who are trying to deal with some of the real-life problems.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the politicians did something about those annoying robocalls? Crapo and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar have declared “war” on the robocalls; trouble is, nobody else on Capitol Hill seems ready to join the fight. Their bill is stuck in committee, beneath the rubble of impeachment talk.

And what do you think about the idea of Facebook – the pirates of personal privacy – getting into banking and currency business? If that doesn’t make your blood pressure rise, then nothing will. Crapo is working with Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and others to get a grip on that issue.

You won’t find Crapo agreeing with the two Democrats on many issues. The Idaho senator certainly won’t be endorsing Klobuchar in her bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But there are a few things that normal human beings can agree on. One is that scammers making robocalls are bad people and, two, that Facebook’s dive into the currency business needs to be watched.

Klobuchar, in a joint release with Crapo, is clear on her distain for robocalls. “New technology has enabled scammers to spoof or alter their phone numbers so that the calls appear to be local, making them nearly impossible to recognize or track. Worse still, they often target seniors who are particularly susceptible to these scammers, which has led, in some cases, to the loss of their entire life savings.”

I’ve received more than my share of those scam calls. For a while, I was getting calls, supposedly from the Social Security Administration, informing me that I had a fraudulent account and the FBI was about to come to my home like a SWAT unit. Of course, my problems would go away if I were to give my Social Security and bank account numbers. I didn’t follow up to that level.

Ah … but relief is just a vote or two away in Congress, says Crapo. “Our bipartisan bill would empower voice service providers to identify and block suspected illegal calls before they ever reach a consumer’s device.”

Klobuchar explains: “This legislation would establish a pilot program to expand the FCC’s attempt to combat robocalls and help hold these criminals accountable while also ensuring public safety.”

Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC commissioner, gives well-deserved praise to the senators. “The number of robocalls today is bonkers. Consumers didn’t create this mess and shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

Now, if Congress would only deal with this mess.

On the Facebook issue, you might want to become familiar with the term “cryptocurrencies.” The purpose is to make it easier for people to buy things online. Facebook is teaming with companies such as Mastercard and Uber in this endeavor – drawing a blunt reaction from Warner.

“The last thing in the world we want to create is some scheme out there,” he said.

Crapo’s committee has held hearings on the developments within the digital currency marketplace. “Since then, Facebook announced its intention to launch a blockchain based on payment system and digital currency, Libra, that will be governed by an association that will include up to 100 financial and non-financial members, including Facebook’s digital wallet service, Calibra,” Crapo told his committee.

It’s no Halloween trick-or-treat, folks. This is scary stuff.

“The United States needs to be the one that sets the rules of road,” Crapo says. “We can’t just say we don’t like this. The technology could flourish in other countries, such as China or Russia. If that happens, they would become the global leaders in setting the rules. We need to get a handle on this technology.”

At the moment, unfortunately, Congress is having a heck of a time getting a handle on anything beyond the political drama of the day that we’re seeing on the nightly newscasts.

Chuck Malloy, a long-time Idaho journalist, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at

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