Google News serendipitously sent me two items about Dennis Rehberg simultaneously, one showing his staunch support for the Tea Party Movement and its critique of federal spending, the other showing Rehberg’s penchant for incredible, breathtaking hypocrisy.’
Rehberg hates spending:
Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg released a statement in reaction to the "new age" tea parties saying, "Montanans are understandably outraged at the dangerously irresponsible spending in Washington, D.C. The tea parties springing up around the nation exemplify that anger, and I hear their message loud and clear".
Rehberg loves spending:
. . .when it comes to spending tax dollars, sunlight is the best weapon against waste. That’s why I’m taking government transparency to a new level by posting on my website every documented request for funding received by my office. I’m also forwarding all of those requests to the House Appropriations Committee so they can be closely scrutinized.
Representative Rehberg wants to have it both ways. Despite his fiscal ‘conservatism’, he is forwarding every request to the Appropriations Committee, which will let him tell every constituent group he supported their request. I somehow doubt as much sunshine will be cast on the closed door meetings when Rehberg and his staff decided which of these proposals they will actually fight for (or slip in) during the budgeting process.
What did fiscal conservative Dennis Rehberg submit to the Appropriations Committee? Requests for:
- $4.7 million to American Chemet to ‘develop a bioavailability model for copper in estuarine marine waters (Maybe Dennis should look at a map sometime)
- $650,00 for Rehberg’s favorite charity and travel agent, the Montana World Trade Center
- $1 million to Montana Opticom to somehow bring fiber optic technology to every classroom(where?) (Not bad for $20,000 in lobbying)
- $500,000 for the Billing Clinic to install security measures (Total requests from the Billings Clinic? A cool $2.85 million)
- $60,000 to East Helena to hire a police officer (Who will pay after the first year, I wonder?)
- $1.3 million for the Jefferson Local Development Corporation (This must be the free market I keep hearing about)
- $1.0 million for the Montana Aerospace Development Association (Again, a map might be handy)
- $20 million over two years to Synesis7 in Butte
- $9 million to Resodyn (You all remember Resodyn, right?)
- $25 million to the Columbia River Channel Coalition (Don’t Oregon and Washington have members of Congress?)
- $500,000 for the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra to “create a plethora of activities that would inspire and entertain local audiences”
- $706, 750 for the Missoula Community Performing Arts Center, to do much the same, I imagine
Certainly all of these requests will not be approved, but that’s hardly the point. Representative Rehberg has built his career on the pork he has brought back to Montana (especially its agricultural sector and Montana State University), so it’s more than a bit troubling when continually claims to be some kind of fiscal conservative. It’s especially galling, as Dennis McDonald notes, when he runs around the state trumpeting spending he voted against.
It’s time for Representative Rehberg’s supporters to start asking themselves a few questions:
- Why do so many private companies need federal largesse, if Rehberg is a champion of the free market?
- Why does he support earmarks not even designed to benefit our state?
- How can Rehberg claim to be a fiscal conservative when he keeps spending your tax dollars for programs that cannot sustain themselves?