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Energy Environment Montana Politics Ryan Zinke Steve Daines

Tuesday tidbits: Quist, Zinke and Daines

Blaming the national Dems

Montana author Rick Bass has an op-ed in the L.A. Times decrying the lack of national Democratic party support for Rob Quist in Montana’s special election. He notes that in the Georgia special election being held today, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invested ten times the amount it spent here.

” …the national resources flowed to Georgia, not Montana. They flowed to the old model of urban Democrat rather than the struggling middle-lander, the rural guy who can speak the language of Trump voters.”

Bass adds that if Democrat Jon Ossoff wins the race he should give a nod to Montana since the national party sacrificed our special election for Georgia’s.

He ends with, “Our loss will be your victory.”

I don’t believe the lack of national Democratic money was the sole reason for Quist’s defeat but Bass does raise a valid point.

Remember James Watt?

He was interior secretary under Pres. Ronald Reagan. He resigned shortly after stating, “I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple” on a coal leasing panel he’d formed. Watt’s record on the environment was abysmal. He was named one of the ten worst cabinet members in modern history by Time magazine.

Could Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke surpass Watt’s environmental malfeasance?

Zinke later told Reuters while the U.S. government should find solutions to adapt to changing climate, jobs are a priority. “If you don’t have an economy you can’t afford to put in the environmental protections you need,” he said.

That’s the last paragraph from the Reuters interview with Zinke. He has a point, if climate change isn’t abated there could be lots of jobs shoring up our coastlines, battling wildfires, repairing infrastructure from increasingly violent storms and breaking ground in the Yukon to plant crops. The rest of the quote about the economy v. environmental protections is difficult to fathom.

There are other disturbing pronouncements. Zinke wants to open up protected federal lands to drilling and mining so that America is a “dominant” global energy force. He seems particularly keen on opening protected marine reserves to offshore drilling. There is no mention of alternative energy options in the article.

Daines on health care

I’d like to flesh out a Montana Cowgirl post about Sen. Steve Daines waffling on the Senate’s health care plans. That post says Daines was caught with his “pants down” for telling Roll Call that his input on the bill is invaluable, especially on rural health care issues, and then in a later interview he complains about being shut out of the process.

Talking to Tom Lutey of the Billings Gazette Daines says,“I want to see a bill. Put down all these thoughts now in a bill so we can look at it.”

He goes on to say that states will continue their Medicaid expansion programs, that there will be health savings accounts, that there will be larger private insurance pools and high risk insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions.

Daines seems to know a lot about the proposed Senate bill for someone who cites “the lack of transparency and the lack of visibility that we are having in this process.” Then he goes after the critics:

“There are those in the state who I think are putting out information that’s not entirely accurate, creating a lot of concern and fears that frankly do not align with where it looks like this bill text is headed at the moment,” Daines said.

So, even though he hasn’t seen the bill, he knows what’s in it, although he’s frustrated by a lack of transparency and, by the way, the critics are wrong. Got that?

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.

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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