So what do you suggest, Ochenski?

In an attempt to be provocative, I guess, columnist George Ochenski blames Democrats for the suffering about to be heaped on Montana’s most vulnerable.

The facts escape him: the first being that Republicans have majorities in the Montana Senate and House.

The second is that Republicans have chewed away at Montana’s tax base since 2003, when they, along with Republican Gov. Judy Martz, reduced tax brackets from 10 to six. That meant someone earning $15,000 a year paid the same rate as someone making $1 million. It also cost our state over $976 million by the end of 2016, the Montana Budget and Policy Center reported.

The third fact is the proposed $75 million in budget cuts comes “after we’ve already made $196 million in cuts this year alone and $350 million since 2013,” according to House Minority Leader Jenny Eck (D-Helena).

But it’s not the Republicans, Ochenski suggests, that rained down such destruction on state services. Democrats just didn’t have a strategy to counter the GOP mantra of shrinking government by cutting taxes.

But how does one deal with the Republican game plan? From House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nancy Ballance (R-Hamilton):

“Raising taxes was a non-starter, even though we got thousands of letters from people saying ‘Please raise taxes. We need these services,’”

Which is an incredible admission — sort of a “screw you.” She continues:

“But we knew that raising taxes only hurts vulnerable people, and the hard-working people of Montana who were already struggling.”

Let’s look at the revenue (tax) increases proposed by our Democratic legislators and governor: higher taxes on the wealthy, a tax on rental cars and lodging, and a tobacco tax. Doesn’t seem like there’s much damage being done to the “vulnerable people, and the hard-working people of Montana” and certainly less harm with a tobacco tax if it encourages folks to get that nasty nicotine monkey off their back.

Parroting the GOP, Ochenski explains what a typical Montana family should do when faced with a budget shortfall:

The changes most Montanans would make would be cutting back on their spending and prioritize existing funds to their most critical needs.

No mention in his column of trying to raise more revenue, which is another way Montanans balance their budgets.

The opinion piece is headlined: “Democratic Party: Discouraged, disgusted, dysfunctional.”

“I’ve said it before and will say it again… ” That’s Ochenski on Democrats needing to get their house in order. There’s some truth to that. But what’s your strategy, George? What’s your message? How are Democrats going to pick up seats in 2018 and beyond?

He has this to say about the Democrats, “…what Montanans are hearing are high-pitched whines about the evil Republicans.” Sounds like there’s plenty of whining coming from Ochenski as well.



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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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  • George Ochenski displayed his ignorance of the Al Franken story,
    the private prison story also the Special Session.

    Displayed his gross neglect of obvious facts.

    Reminds me when he grossly neglected the obvious facts about Amanda Curtis and her handling of guns also her gun policy.

    Back when Amanda was running for the US Senate and George’s column blabbered totally fake partisan sourced lies about Amanda Curtis.

    Want to read some totally fake partisan sourced lies about the Special Session?

    Maybe not. But many will.

    At the top of the Missoulian 11/20/17 Editorial page, many will read the Guest Column by Austin Knudsen, Ron Ehli, and Greg Hertz: “Special Session wrap-up”

    Then seamlessly slide into the Ochenski Column: “Discouraged, disgusted, dysfunctional”

    Many will read those two partisan pieces and walk away feeling comfortable.

    Some will feel way too comfortable.

    I suggest they and you read the Knudsen, Ehli, Hertz Guest Column.

    Note how the trio talks again and again about “we” and “our”.

    But never mention Nancy Ballance who did the work of number crunching, drafting and sponsoring HB-2.

    Representative Nancy Ballance, House Chair of Appropriations Committee, long recognized as the *go to*
    person for GOP dollar budgeting projects.

    Nancy Ballance “from Hamilton was one of the key architects in executing the GOP’s response to the $227 million budget shortfall.”

    That quote from MTPR Morning Edition with Jackie Yamanaka, 11/16/17:
    House Appropriations Chair Says Intention was not to have Pre-season Negotiated “Deal”

    • Thanks for pointing out the juxtaposition of the two Missoulian columns, Bob. I hope the irony wasn’t lost on the readers of Monday’s Missoulian Editorial Page. There were the right-wingers — Knudsen, Ehli and Hertz — crowing about the misery they’ll be spreading to vulnerable Montana families. Then there was leftist Ochenski not holding them accountable.

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