A Look Into Art Wittich’s Brain

Given the title of this post, I can understand how many of you may want to skip reading it, as when I imagine Representative Wittich’s brain, I picture something from the worst childhood nightmare, but it may be worth the read to get a sense of how Representative Wittich makes his decisions.

Yesterday, during the ongoing debate about Medicaid Expansion in Montana Representative Wittich took to Twitter to argue that Montana taxpayers are opposed to the proposed expansion. Supporting his claim, he offered this piece of evidence:

The link is to an Astroturf site named Uncover Obamacare, which reports that Montanans in eight swing legislative districts oppose Medicaid expansion, according to an organization called the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA):

A majority of the voters polled expressed concern that expanding Medicaid in Montana could endanger state funding to education, public safety, and other health care programs. In House District 93, for example, 78 percent of all voters said these potential cuts to state priorities make them less likely to support Medicaid expansion.

Let’s start with the obvious. These poll results are less plausible than Senator David Howard’s hairpiece. When you press release for a poll repeats the same talking points used in right wing scare ads run in the same districts you’re targeting, you might have a credibility problem. When your poll doesn’t list its questions or methodology, you might have a credibility problem. When your poll results only appear on your own Astroturf web site, you might just have a credibility problem.

And you certainly have a credibility problem when your “poll” is conducted by the FGA. When you research who the Foundation for Government Accountability is, you see another tentacle of the Koch Brothers operation to undermine public policy. According to Sourcewatch, the FGA has close ties to the ALEC, the organization that allows “corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line.”

And there you have Art Wittich’s mind when it comes to critical legislation: a brain that only listens to “evidence” that supports his pre-existing mindset, no matter how absurd that evidence is. A brain that works at full speed when it comes to demonizing the poor, but seems stuck in reverse when it comes to evaluating the merits of sensible federal programs that will help the state and its people.

And that’s no brain at all.

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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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  • the last standing Medicaid bill that will negatively impact over a 160,000 thousand people in this state if passed. is it a poison pill? should Democrats support it?

    • While Democrats would certainly prefer the more sensible bill they promoted before Art Wittich killed it, SB 405 is better than nothing. The Montana Budget & Policy Center explains it better than I could:
      Even with our concerns about the additional hurdles SB 405 places on low-income families, we will support this legislation and we hope policymakers will seriously consider this compromise. We’ve been saying it for over a year now – 70,000 can’t wait. We cannot ask our fellow Montanans to continue to wait for health care. This is too important. –

      See more at: http://www.montanabudget.org/the-montana-help-act-a-new-pathway-to-insure-70000-montanans/#sthash.DJgwkVnZ.dpuf

      • Bullock and Montana Dems seem awfully eager for the “W” in this issue… no matter who gets crushed in the process. Perhaps the should do the math, like James Connor did. http://www.flatheadmemo.com/archives_2015/march-2015/2015-03-26_dems_blast_gop_bill.html

        The unanimous Democratic support for the blast is proof that Gov. Bullock and the Democratic Party have embraced the perverse axiom that the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. In this case, the few are the up to 70,000 Montanans who might be helped by SB-405, and the many are the 165,600 poorer people already on Medicaid and CHIP whose incomes will be reduced two percent by SB-405.

        That’s right. The people most down and out will have their piggy banks robbed to help people who are not as poor. It’s an economically regressive policy that’s the inverse of everything Democrats say they stand for. But the poorest of the poor are the least likely to vote, so picking their pockets won’t result in payback at the polls.

        The Republicans have dark money. With this sellout of the poor, the Democrats have dark souls.

  • That’s utter nonsense Craig. It’s obvious to anyone who is paying attention that the Republicans are proposing this crappy bill in the hopes that Democrats will refuse to support it because of what it does to current Medicaid recipients. However, given the makeup of the Leg this year they will support it because it’s better than nothing. Time will do it’s thing and eventually we’ll have single payer, though we’ll probably see the brains (?) of the the tea party folks explode.

    • Utter nonsense. How is taking money from 160000 of the poorest of poor to provide for 70,000 of the near poor better than nothing? James hits the nail on the head, the very poor (160,000) likely don’t vote. Meanwhile, comments like yours give cover to Dems, and especially Bullock, to take credit for the EFFORT to expand Medicaid.

      • Before I respond, Craig, will you clarify your position? Given your deep concern for the poor here, can I assume you support the original bill proposed by Governor Bullock? Because, if you don’t, as I suspect, this is just another example of concern trolling I don’t have time for.

        • Don, your sarcasm is dripping. Assume whatever you want.

          Medicaid expansion is important and I support that. All I have asked, elsewhere, is definition of the stable funding source in future budgets after the federal funds stop. What I don’t want is a knee-jerk alarmist response to that question when that time draws nigh. I don’t believe Bullock’s proposal addressed my concern. SB405 addresses that concern to some degree, but the burden to the least able to pay is unacceptable.

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