Dennis Rehberg’s Continued Dishonesty on SCHIP

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It should come as no surprise that Dennis Rehberg is an opportunistic liar. That’s probably the most accurate pair of words to describe his career. What should be surprising is that Montana’s newspapers keep letting him get away with it.

In today’s Independent Record, Rehberg presents an entirely new set of arguments about SCHIP. After seeing the writing on the wall (that poll showed showed strong support for the bill and that President Bush would veto it anyway), Rehberg decided to vote for the compromise bill.  Despite that, he can’t stop being dishonest about it. 

In the piece, Rehberg lists three concerns that kept him from supporting the bill originally:

  1. Illegal aliens would have been able to receive benefits
  2. The original bill allowed people as old as 21 to receive benefits
  3. The original bill hurt Medicare recipients

Now, had those been Rehberg’s original objections, there might be something to talk about here. What did Rehberg say when he voted against expanding SCHIP?

U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg on Wednesday voted against House Democrats’ bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, saying it’s based on an “extremist political ideology” to expand government-run health care.

Rehberg, a Republican and Montana’s only U.S. House member, said he supports SCHIP, but cannot support the Democrats’ bill.

“They (Democrats) are pushing forward an agenda of eliminating affordable, reliable health insurance from private providers and shifting to an inefficient, costly, government-run health care plan,” he said in a statement late Wednesday.

So, a relatively minor compromise in the bill changed it from an extremist, government run health plan to something Rehberg supports? A cynic might wonder if Rehberg isn’t just voting for a bill that he knows won’t survive a Presidential veto to score political points. After all, Rehberg might want to show one example of independence from the worst President in modern American history before going back to the voters in 2008.

It seems relatively simple to me. I’ll give my vote to someone who knew from the beginning that providing health care to children was the practical and ethical decision. Bill Kennedy didn’t need to focus group and politicize this issue; why would you want to vote for someone who did?

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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