Montana Politics

Dennis Rehberg: Fear and Lies in the Flathead

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When he’s not making empty political gestures, you can usually count onrehberg Representative Rehberg to fall back on his other campaign strategy, right wing, dishonest fear mongering. In a brief interview with Dan Testa at the Flathead Beacon, Rehberg went to both wells, drawing a long drink of the crazy each time.

Let’s start with the empty political gestures. Rehberg’s really trying to get a lot of mileage out of his plan to not support federal money coming to Montana, but the purported benefits of this grandstanding gesture that will actually hurt Montanans seem to get more illogical every day.  Nothing would excite me more than the prospect of this financial wizard making more important decisions as a member of the Appropriations Committee:

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s a pittance.’ OK, so a pittance doesn’t matter? Alright. Good. Why don’t you go ahead and give me that billion dollars from Montana and the billion across the country because for every dollar Montana gets remember, I’m just one of 435, and then there are a hundred senators,” he said. “So all of a sudden, it starts adding up.”

Rehberg seems to be trying to suggest that $535 billion is spent annually on earmarks, and while it seemed like the GOP-controlled Congress was headed in that direction during the first decade of the century, he’s only off by about$524 billion, as earmarks in the FY 2010 budget total $11 billion:

Lawmakers included $11.1 billion in earmarks in fiscal 2010 appropriations measures, down from $15.2 billion in 2009, OMB said. The number of earmarks also decreased during that period, falling 17 percent from 11,124 in fiscal 2009 bills to 9,192 in 2010, the Obama administration’s figures indicated.

Fuzzy math accomplished, Rehberg moved to fear mongering for his base in the Tea Party, suggesting that the IRS was going to create a private militia to enforce the Socialistic doctrine of Obamacare:

“One of the things we would like to do is when the appropriations bills come to the floor, say in the case of the mandates, no money can be spent on the enforcement of the mandate. You cannot hire 16,000 new IRS agents to enforce that provision or something along that line,” Rehberg said.

The number 16,000 wasn’t chosen arbitrarily, of course. It’s become a conservative rallying crying since the passage of Health Care Reform. As you might expect, it’s a claim wholly without merit, as FactCheck.org points out:

This wildly inaccurate claim started as an inflated, partisan assertion that 16,500 new IRS employees might be required to administer the new law. That devolved quickly into a claim, made by some Republican lawmakers, that 16,500 IRS “agents” would be required. Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas even claimed in a televised interview that all 16,500 would be carrying guns. None of those claims is true.

No record. No achievements. No honesty. It’s time for no Rehberg.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a 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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