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Opinion Page Gaffes

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Two, separate, Opinion Page pieces that need serious parsing:

1) MT House Speaker Knudsen on Medicaid Expansion

In a guest column that appeared in many Montana dailies, Austin Knudsen (R-Culbertson) said all the Democrats and 13 Republicans weren’t “playing by the rules.” Since this Medicaid expansion coalition made up the majority in the House, it gets to rule on the rules, and it did (final vote: 54-46 in favor of Medicaid expansion).  Sorry, Austin.  Some other Knudsen gems in the column:

“There was no compromise in the drafting of this bill.”  The first bill, drafted by the governor’s office, went down in committee.  The second bill, introduced by Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) and passed by the majority, was the compromise bill.

It wasn’t a “bipartisan healthcare solution.”  When 13 Republicans cross the aisle to vote with the Democrats, that’s bipartisan.  To be honest, this wasn’t the Democrat’s finest hour.  The bill doesn’t enroll as many as it should and places an unacceptable tax, asset limits and co-pay burdens on those who do qualify.  Democrats say it was the best we could hope for, though.

“A group of representatives who were upset that they weren’t getting their way used procedural maneuvering to sidestep the rules … ”  If the tables were turned and Republicans were in the minority but were able to peel off some Democratic votes, I’m sure Knudsen would never use “procedural maneuvering to sidestep the rules.”  No, never.

“To be clear, I think that everyone should have access to healthcare … ”  This is the most egregious of his comments.  Under the governor’s bill, an additional 70,000 low-income Montanans would have been covered.  Under Buttrey’s compromise bill 40,000 could be covered.  Knudsen voted against both bills.

2) Absurd Point/Counterpoint

Let’s just say you’re at a health care conference and the subject of cardiac-pulmonary health comes up. A noted heart surgeon and a tobacco industry spokesman are present. The surgeon says that smoking is bad for your heart. The tobacco industry representative says there’s no science linking heart disease and smoking. Who are you going to believe?

These same sort of arguments are being trotted out on the Opinion Pages of many of our daily newspapers.  They’re the print equivalent of the “Point/Counterpoint” segments made famous by 60 Minutes decades ago.

For example, last Sunday’s side-by-side columns in the Missoulian took up the issue of climate change. On one side was a journalist and the other was a staff member of the Institute for Policy Innovation. This institute is funded by ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers, and far-right foundations.

From privatizing Social Security and our public schools to promoting tobacco use, the Institute for Policy Innovation has taken on a wide range of issues. Its current mission is discrediting climate-change science.

So, are you going to believe the journalist with no skin in the game (except for life on Earth as we know it) or the corporate shill for the fossil fuel industry?

That newspapers would pit a Nobel Prize-winning scientist or Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist against an industry hack and call it balanced opinion is ludicrous. Please media, spare us from the institutes and foundations like Heritage, American Enterprise, Cato and Policy Innovation that are bought and paid for by industries and individuals who are just trying to protect their profits and portfolios.

 

 

 

 

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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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