When people ask me why I think Dennis Rehberg is one of the most out of touch members of Congress, it’s hard to not to point to things like his unwillingness to support the very troops he voted to send to war. The latest example of this lack of support comes in his unwillingness to support a much-needed expansion of the GI Bill, to give the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan the opportunity for a quality education after they return.
What’s particularly egregious this time is that Rehberg is refusing to support our troops because he wants to protect the rights of Americans who make in excess of $500,000 per year. No, really:
Rehberg supports the GI Bill. But he said the measure that came to the floor was just election-year politics, since it was not brought up on its own but as part of a larger spending bill. Democrats also added a provision that would tax incomes over $500,000 to pay for the program, which would cost about $52 billion over the next 10 years. Republicans said that tax could hurt small business owners.
‘‘This is political gamesmanship, and it’s unfortunate Jim Hunt wants to put his stamp of approval on this,’’ said Rehberg spokesman Bridger Pierce.
Let’s parse that, shall we? Rehberg claims that he supports the bill, but opposes it because Democrats in Congress think that we should probably pay for the program, rather than just add to the national debt. Because Congressional Democrats want to be fiscally responsible, Rehberg was forced to make a choice: either support the troops who have fought a longer war than World War II or support the super-rich, who make up less than 1% of the population.
Congress is a complicated place, but some choices are easy. Montanans are fighting and dying in wars across the world, and Dennis Rehberg doesn’t believe that they deserve access to the best possible education when they return; he believes that his job in Congress is to protect the people who have profited from those sacrifices, not those who have made them.
Rehberg can talk about “Montana Values” all he wants this campaign. It’s just too bad for him that the candidate with real Montana values is Jim Hunt.
Update: It’s especially galling that Rehberg has the audacity to vote against benefits for veterans at about the same time he calls a self-serving press conference to promote himself by collecting goods for veterans. Wouldn’t it be nice if Rehberg did the actual work of supporting the troops?