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Montana Politics US Politics

Fact Check on Conrad Burns, Part 3

Burns: "We are retiring the deficit."


  • The Bush Administration makes deficit reduction claims easier by lying about the size of the deficit.
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls the reduced total of a $300 billion deficit will still cause: "will cause the debt to grow faster than the economy; it will cause the debt-to-GDP ratio to rise this year. When debt rises faster than the economy, it becomes a growing burden — future taxpayers will have to devote more of their taxes to paying off debt, or alternatively to paying interest on the debt. Put simply, a rising debt-to-GDP ratio means that the nation is increasing the financial burden on future generations, while a falling debt-to-GDP ratio means that the nation is reducing the burden on future generations. The debt cannot grow faster than the economy forever without eventually causing bankruptcy.
  • 2003-2007 will be the five largest deficits in the history of the United States.

Burns: You can’t negotiate with these people. 9/11 was the result of appeasement. I am for strong national security.

Senator Burns favors amnesty for insurgents who have murdered American soliders in Iraq, and was one of just nineteen members of the Senate who voted against a  bill stating that "the Government of Iraq should not grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the Armed Forces of the United States."

Burns: "We’ve got to kill this death tax…my goodness…so one farm can be inherited by another."


  • A study by the Congressional Budget Office shows that in 2000 (ie, before the recent evisceration) only 1,659 farms and 485 small business were liable for the estate tax, almost all of which had sufficient liquid assets to pay it. The rest can stretch their tax payments over many years.
  • The American Farm Bureau Federation acknowledged to the New York Times that it could not cite a single example of a farm having to be sold to pay estate taxes.

Burns: "Don’t worry about the ports, Jon. They ain’t coming through the ports…if we secure the border and we grant no amnesty, we’ll have time to deal with that (visa overstays) domestically."


  • The Coast Guard says that Immigration is "a stiff challenge for personnel at ports of entry along U.S. coastlines and at international airports throughout the country. With so much commerce and so many people entering and leaving the country each day, inspecting every man, woman and package that enters the United States would be a daunting task."
  • Congress cut nearly $650 million from a program to increase port security, despite the fact that the U.S. is still only inspecting five percent of cargo at seaports.
  • The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that people who overstayed their visas account for as much as 45 percent – nearly half – of the unauthorized immigrants now in the US. Most of the 4.5 million to 6 million people who violated their visas were tourist or business travelers.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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