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The Media

Dennis Rehberg’s Big Day of Sunshine Under a Limbaugh Cloud

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Dennis is so excited about yesterday. He was pretending to have read the House health care bill, doling out bits of “sunshine” as he feverishly read through through the text, exposing its nefarious schemes to socialize American life. Rehberg was excited, the Montana media was excited, and the Park County Republicans had to clean up after themselves:

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) went to town on Facebook and Twitter in Sarah Palin fashion yesterday, exposing the nearly 2000 page Pelosi-care bill that was “unveiled” in a closed-to-the-public ceremony the other day. What wasn’t unveiled in that event was put under a spotlight on Rep. Rehberg’s page.

You know was most excited, though? Probably Rush Limbaugh and the insurance company executives that Rehberg cribbed his comments from, many of which were flat out lies.

Let’s put Rehberg’s posts on Facebook side by side with the transcript of Limbaugh’s program yesterday, and see how much independent thinking Representative Rehberg was really doing.

Rehberg Limbaugh
Page 297 imposes a tax on all individuals who do not purchase “bureaucrat-approved” health insurance Page 297 — Section 501: “Imposes a 2.5 percent tax on all individuals who do not purchase ‘bureaucrat-approved’ health insurance — the tax would apply on individuals with incomes under $250,000, thus breaking a central promise of then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign.”
Page 225 permits *but does not require* Members of Congress to enroll in government-run health care Page 225 — Section 330: “Permits — but does not require — Members of Congress to enroll in government-run health care.”  So they’ll be able to opt out of it and maintain their Cadillac plans.
Page 94 prohibits sale of private individual health insurance policies forcing you to go through fed government Page 94, Pelosi plan: “Prohibits the sale of private individual health insurance policies, beginning in 2013, forcing individuals to purchase coverage through the federal government.”  In 2013, after the 2012 presidential election.  In 2013, there is no private insurance allowed.  The sale of it will be prohibited.
Page 211 establishes new gov’t-run health plan that may cause as many as 114 million to lose existing coverage Page 211 — Section 321: “Establishes a new government-run health plan that, according to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group, would cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their existing coverage.”
Page 313 imposes 8% “tax on jobs” on firms that can’t afford “bureaucrat-approved” health coverage Page 313 — Section 512: “Imposes an 8 percent ‘tax on jobs’ for firms that cannot afford to purchase ‘bureaucrat-approved’ health coverage; according to an analysis by Harvard Professor Kate Baicker, such a tax would place millions ‘at substantial risk of unemployment’ — with minority workers losing their jobs at twice the rate of their white counterparts.”
Page 520 cuts more than $150 billion from Medicare Advantage plans, hurting at least 26,000 Montana seniors Page 520 — Section 1161: “Cuts more than $150 billion from Medicare Advantage plans.”
Page 336 imposes a half-trillion dollar “surcharge,” more than half of which will hit small businesses Page 336 — Section 551: “Imposes additional job-killing taxes, in the form of a half-trillion dollar ‘surcharge,’ more than half of which will hit small businesses;
The bill requires applicants to verify their citizenship, but not to verify identity Page 255 — Section 345: “Includes language requiring verification of income for individuals wishing to receive federal health care subsidies under the bill — while the bill includes a requirement for applicants to verify their citizenship, it does not include a similar requirement to verify applicants’ identity,

It’s certainly interesting to see that Rehberg managed to not only hit on all of the arguments advanced by Limbaugh, but he used the same language. I wonder if it’s possible that Limbaugh and Rehberg were using the same playbook, while Rehberg pretended to be evaluating the bill.

In what is perhaps the most astonishing twist, Limbaugh was more honest than Rehberg.  Consider the claim about a loss of 114 million people losing coverage. Rehberg leaves out that claim comes from the Lewin Group—and for good reason. The Lewin Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest private insurers in the country.

I’ll get back to the rest of the specious talking points that Rehberg is being fed later, but at a basic level, how can we trust Rehberg, who is presenting himself as some consumer champion, when all he is really doing is parroting talking points from insurance companies and the far right?

It’s an embarrassment, and it’s a damn shame that the media couldn’t search to find the source for the claims before promoting Rehberg’s “work.”

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-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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