Why Doesn’t Steve Daines Know Anything?

One of the more interesting strategies employed by Steve Daines as a political candidate is to either pretend that he doesn’t know how he’ll vote on an issue or actually not to know. During his House campaign against Kim Gillian, Daines repeatedly pretended that he just wasn’t sure how he felt about the Ryan budget, for example, only to run to Washington to cast votes for it. He’s playing the same game in this Senate race, demonstrating an absolute refusal to inform Montanans where he stands on the issues.

Why Doesn’t Steve Know?

The most egregious example, of course, is that Daines won’t say where’d cut the federal budget, despite making the federal debt one of the centerpieces of his campaign. In his recent interview with Mike Dennison he offered the same non-specific proposals he always returns to:

He also touts his support of a balanced-budget amendment – but steadfastly resists lining out just which programs he’d cut to balance the budget. Instead, he says it’s time to “change the incentive structure in Washington, D.C.,” such as not paying Congress unless it submits a balance budget, or pass lower spending limits and have federal agencies identify the cuts.

That idea to not pay Congress is rhetorically cute, but doesn’t offer any answers to Montanans about the kind of cuts Daines will push for if elected to the Senate. He’s feigning ignorance because he wants Montanans to remain in the dark about the drastic cuts in government services and tax cuts for the 1% he actually supports.

If your damn motto is “less government,” shouldn’t you have the courage to say or the intellect to know what government services you’d like to cut?

Despite it being the centerpiece forest legislation impacting Montana, Daines also feigns ignorance about his position on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. Despite studying the bill and giving its his tentative support as far back as 2013, now that he’s running for the Senate, Daines just doesn’t know what he thinks about the bill. In fact, when asked by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Daines was “unavailable for comment.” Daines was so craven that the Chronicle called him out for it in an editorial, writing:

If Daines opposes the Jobs and Recreation Act, he should say so and state clearly what his objections are. Better yet, he should highlight the problems he has with the measure, set up a meeting with Tester and try to hammer out the differences.

Daines even extends his unwillingness to take a position to relatively obscure measures like the pending reauthorization of the Export-Import bank. Long supported by Republicans and in place since the New Deal, the EX-IM bank helps American businesses, including those based in Bozeman, sell goods overseas. When asked by the Bozeman Chronicle, though, Daines didn’t know how he would vote again:

Bozeman resident and Montana’s Republican Congressman Steve Daines said he hasn’t decided whether to support reauthorizing the bank.

“For me the core question is simply whether the bank, which was created during the Great Depression, remains necessary today to increase U.S. companies’ access to overseas markets and support jobs in our country,” he told the, Chronicle.

There’s a reason Daines is reticent to take a position on this one. Even though the Export-Important bank is widely supported by the business community, including the US Chamber of Commerce, TEA Party groups and the rabid Heritage Foundation plan to score the vote on the Ex-Im bank as a measure of true conservatism. Always on guard to protect his TEA Party flank but not wanting to alienate his corporate masters, Daines simply won’t state his position on this vote. Odds are he’ll skip the floor vote, too, given his political courage.

In the final analysis, Daines only gets away with this as long as the media let him. There should be more editorials calling him out for his unwillingness to speak the truth and fewer stories about managed press events at local businesses.  Shouldn’t a race that could well determine the balance of power in the Senate have definite answers to clear questions?

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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  • This is the Tim Fox campaign strategy, and it worked very well for him in 2012. If you know that the positions you’ll take while in office are wildly unpopular with voters, then at all costs avoid debating your opponent, speaking to the press, or in any way allowing yourself to be pinned down on particulars. It’s absolutely maddening to those who know what the actual answers would be, but we don’t have a lot of heft to compel disclosure.

    • Yeah we do, Gretchen. Look, I was WITH the Schweitzer chicken every time he showed up. Remember that? Cornhole Burns refused to debate. Thus, every time Cornhole showed UP somewhere, there was the chicken! It’s time to embarrass Pee Wee daines. SHAME him for Jaysus! MAKE that little pisssant debate whether he wants to or not!

    • bwahahahaha! Big Weed, she’s from over your way, Lockwood. Do you know her family? I do. Good people. She’s from good stock. Hard working folks. And she’s actually FROM Montana, Weed. But I don’t hold that against you. Like Cornhole Burns, you got here as soon as you could! But on this one, let us make the decisions. You just sit back and relax up there on the rims.

  • This cretin would be a disaster for Montana, it’s people (especially the women) it’s wildlife and the rivers that we all love. A vote for him is a vote for pollution, loss of public lands, and a reversal of women’s rights. Don’t be fooled, he is not the ‘good guy’ he claims to be. Go Amanda!

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