“It’s the economy, stupid” was James Carville’s refrain for candidate Bill Clinton back in 1992, and it’s become a bit of truism in American politics that what politicians say matters less than the underlying economic factors at the time of an election. Two bits of news in Montana today offer instructive evidence that it’s both the economy and the positions that Greg Gianforte has taken that will sink his candidacy this November.
First, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle broke the news tonight that Oracle will be moving 100 jobs from Bozeman to Texas, largely so the company can pay workers less. The news from Oracle is doubly problematic for Mr. Gianforte, because he made millions selling his Bozeman tech company to Oracle, and because back in December, despite unclear involvement with the company, Gianforte was bizarrely taking credit for Oracle bringing new jobs to Bozeman. While his increasingly negative campaign will certainly try to spin this story as an attack on Governor Bullock tomorrow, the image is clear: Mr. Gianforte cashed in, and now Oracle is telling perhaps one hundred workers from Montana that their jobs can be outsourced to Texas.
The news is also problematic for Gianforte because it should bring attention to a story absolutely ignored by the press in this campaign. In 2002, Gianforte told a Montana legislative committee that he was sending jobs to Texas because executives making as much as $300,000 a year just couldn’t bear the burden of paying their taxes in Montana. No, really:
Gianforte said he needs to recruit world-class executives at salaries of $200,000 to $300,000 for RightNow Technologies, a national company. Some said they couldn’t afford to move to Montana, so he set up a company office in Dallas because Texas has no state income taxes.
The other economic news was good for Montana, and only upset Mr. Gianforte and his army of Twitter trolls masquerading as a campaign. While Gianforte has been dishonestly claiming that Montana earnings are low because of the leadership of Governor Bullock, a new report shows that wage growth in Montana is the sixth highest in the nation:
Montana has received its latest economic report card which found that the Treasure State ranks sixth in the nation for wage growth. Governor Steve Bullock and labor commissioner Pam Bucy unveiled the report at a lending and wealth management company in Helena.
Mr. Gianforte, desperate to hide his reactionary social agenda, has repeatedly suggested that he will somehow be a better leader for Montana’s economy, but the news from Bozeman and the story about state wages reveal that his priorities are neither telling the truth nor protecting Montana jobs. He’s running in 2016 for the reason he testified in 2002, because he believes people with his wealth are more important than the workers who helped create it.