Montana Politics The Media

Rehberg Votes Against the Elderly and the Gazette Covers For Him

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A piece in yesterday’s Billings Gazette offered another striking example of incredibly lazy national political reporting in Montana. The piece, a discussion about the growing problem of elder abuse and neglect in Montana, discussed the need to fund 2010’s Elder Justice Act. According to the article, there were over 5,000 cases of neglect, abuse, and exploitation of elderly Montanans in 2010 alone.

Bob Blancato of the National Elder Justice Coalition specifically suggested that people call Representative Rehberg’s office to push for funding the bill, given Rehberg’s role as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education.

Representative Rehberg’s spokesman Jed Link was given space to offer this quote:

“Protecting vulnerable, elderly Montanans is a top priority for Denny, which is why he used his authority last year to preserve funding for programs to combat elder abuse. While Washington needs to tighten its belt, Denny will continue to do everything he can as chairman to make responsible investments in federal programs that work for Montana.”

What the story fails to mention is that Rehberg actually VOTED AGAINST the Elder Justice Act discussed in the story. Rehberg is not only failing to fight for funds to combat elder abuse, but he voted against a bill designed to protect them.

The bill Rehberg voted against included this provision that would have been quite helpful for those Montanans he claims are a “top priority”: Special programs to support underserved populations including rural, minority and Indian seniors.

It seems like a program that would “work for Montana” to me. Voting against protecting the elderly, against Medicare, and against Senior Corps hardly sounds like the record of someone interested in protecting Montana seniors.

I didn’t attend journalism school or anything, but it seems to me that doing a 15 second Google search to confirm how a Representative actually voted on a bill would be a bit more newsworthy than asking his communications director for another platitudinous remark.

Reporting on how a member of Congress actually voted and what he actually said doesn’t constitute writing “gotcha” stories; it describes journalism–and would be nice to see some of it practiced more frequently by newspapers in the state when it comes to our Congressional delegation.

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.

11 Comments

  • You do understand POGIE, that money for funding programs didn’t come down the mountain with Moses and the 10 commandments don’t you ?

    The Government is now borrowing 40% of every dollar they are spending, and expecting us to pay for it, and if there’s wasteful spending in a bill (which there was) I fully appreciate Denny voting against it.

  • So, Eric, what are you planning to give up to help balance the budget and protect the most vulnerable in our society?

  • SophieBlue – before the era of FDR the elderly got by just fine – amazing, huh?

    The elderly had pensions, savings, investments, family, neighbors, churches, etc. There was no nanny state, and they were not getting handouts of borrowed money from Uncle Sam either.

    To balance the budget we (The USA)  needs to cut spending and increase Government revenue, and the easiest way to create revenue is to help businesses make profits, from which they’ll hire more people, and pay more taxes, and those people that they hire will pay in more taxes as well. Since we elected Barack Obama (The Food Stamp President) the number of Americans on Public Assistance has skyrocketed, which obviously has a negative effect on revenue. People need to get back to work.

    It’s a formula that isn’t new – it goes back to JFK and Ronald Reagan.

    • Te solution you advocate, Eric, to increase government revenue and reignite the economy by cutting taxes has been tried repeatedly, and has failed. This data is available to all who all to see it. Reagan had to repeatedly raise taxes each year after his tax cuts, and the Bush tax cuts wiped out a surplus and did nothing to forestall a severe recession.

      You’re not stupid, so I can only speculate that you are in an ideological blind. This happens to all of us. Lord knows I’ve been at odds with reality often enough, and it is not pleasant.

      So please examine the data and adjust your viewpoint accordingly. It’s the honest way out of a dead end.

  • Let’s pretend you’re right, Eric. You’re not, but let’s pretend. Why is Representative Rehberg’s communications director lying to us then?

  • Eric, don’t be idiotic.  Perhaps you have no grasp of simple math or basic economics, but …

    “the easiest way to create revenue is to help businesses make profits,
    from which they’ll hire more people, and pay more taxes, and those
    people that they hire will pay in more taxes as well.”

    That’s not “simple” at all.  You know what is simple?  Raise taxes on those who can afford to pay them.   Just as Ronald Reagan did.

  • SophieBlue – before the era of FDR the elderly got by just fine – amazing, huh?The facts do not support this statement. They didn’t get along just fine, many times they suffered greatly with little or no care by anyone, not church, not family. Life in Montana was a struggle especially for the elderly. Where do you get your “facts”? 

  • “To balance the budget we (The USA)  needs to cut spending and INCREASE GOVERNMENT REVENUE,…”
    So Eric, you agree we need to raise taxes? Lord knows, we’ve cut enough already! 

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