Rehberg on the Budget: Sound and Fury Signifying Stupidity

The Rehberg press machine is still in full swing, getting front page treatment at the Independent Record for another superficially appealing, logically incoherent sound bite that only serves to demonstrate his total lack of policy understanding12-16-09bud-rev6-28-10-f1 and/or character.

Rehberg got this press attention for his meaningless gesture to co-sponsor a Balanced Budget Amendment. Once again, Representative Rehberg is demonizing federal spending, even though the deficit can be largely explained by the costs of the Bush tax cuts and the two wars Rehberg supported, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out:

If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.

Even if we pretend that the disastrous policies of Republican governance were not to blame for the deficit, certainly Representative Rehberg has developed a specific proposal to reduce the deficit, right? Maybe not:

When asked what specifically he would cut in the federal budget to begin the arduous process of balancing it, Rehberg said Thursday: “Clearly, it’s too early to be as specific as you’d like to, because we just went into session yesterday.”

Of course, Rehberg mentions proudly in the article that he has co-sponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment EVERY SESSSION OF CONGRESS SINCE 2001, so it seems like he should have come up with a list a bit more thoughtful than this in the past decade:

  • Republican ban on earmarks, which could total about $16 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 (although earmark supporters say those items merely redirect federal funds and do not add to the deficit)
  • He’s also taking aim at the large increase in the Foreign Operations budget under the Obama administration — which now costs billions of dollars.
  • a move to reduce Congress’ own budget for its operations and staff by 5 percent, which will save $35 million.

Representative Rehberg wants voters and the Congress to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to fix a $1.3 trillion deficit—and the best he can come up with is cutting a few billion dollars? And he hasn’t even read the Debt Commission Report?

When Rehberg and other Republicans talk about a balanced budget, it’s superficially appealing. Of course, everyone would like the federal government to have better fiscal policy and show some more restraint, but given their absolute unwillingness to consider sound tax policy and admit that their real goals are to end programs like Social Security and Medicare, talk of balancing the budget is nothing more than sound and fury signifying stupidity.

This proposal, like everything else from Rehberg’s office, is about the illusion of good governance, not the work of governance. Whether it’s Obama’s health care bill or the Tester Wilderness Bill or the federal budget, Rehberg plays the same game repeatedly: attack the opponent without providing an alternative. Supporting Rehberg means health care costs continuing to crush the American economy, unprotected wilderness, and fiscal insanity. After 10 years, shouldn’t Rehberg have some answers for the problems facing our nation and state?

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.

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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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