Greg Gianforte House 2018 Kathleen Williams Montana Politics

Gianforte’s dirty dozen

Rep. Greg Gianforte sent out an email blast to constituents on his one year anniversary as Montana’s sole representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a compendium of distortion titled: 12 Things I’ve Done in my First 12 Months. Let’s parse it.

1. “I met with Montanans in each of our 56 counties.”

Gianforte has yet to hold a public forum, also known as a town hall meeting, anywhere in Montana.

2. “Jumpstarting our economy.”

Economic growth during Trump’s and Gianforte’s first year in office is about the same as under the last three years of the Obama administration: “the economy expanded at 2.3 percent last year (2017). That is on par with 1.5 percent growth in 2016, 2.9 percent in 2015 and 2.6 percent in 2014,” according to the Washington Post.

Gianforte touts Trump’s tax cuts as the reason for the uptick, and there are certainly short term gains that can be attributed to individuals and businesses keeping more of their cash but, according to the Post:

The truth is that, so far at least, Trump’s signature accomplishment, a $1.5 trillion tax cut for corporations, has mostly increased payouts to shareholders, as its critics said it would — providing little boost to the economy, because wealthy investors don’t tend to spend as much — and not increased business investment, as its supporters promised.

Then there’s yesterday’s Los Angeles Times story:

The tax cuts championed by President Trump are helping push the nation toward an unprecedented level of debt, heightening the risk of another financial crisis, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The budget office’s annual look at the government’s long-term financial outlook paints a grim picture, projecting soaring deficits in the coming years, with debt ultimately peaking at more than 152% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The bond market is showing signs of an upcoming recession, and throw in a potential trade war and “jumpstarting our economy” seems somewhat euphemistic.

3. Creating jobs.

See #2, above. Also, from the political website The Tylt:

When it comes to job creation, the economy has been adding jobs for 78 months in a row. Saying Trump is responsible for the current economy is completely disingenuous—his main efforts have been to undo Obama’s legacy, many of which are directly responsible for the economic gains the U.S. is seeing.

4. Protecting our Montana way of life from federal overreach.

In other words, working with Trump to overturn regulations put in place by previous administrations, such as: worker protections, environmental regulations, trade, foreign policy and immigration. A couple that come to mind are withdrawing from the Paris Accords and the recent “zero tolerance” immigration fiasco that saw kids put in cages. There are many, many other rollbacks as noted here and here.

5. Cleaning up Washington.

This one is laughable. No matter how many times Gianforte talks about “draining the swamp,” Trump and his administration may be surpassing Nixon’s White House and cabinet as the most corrupt, ever. Google any of these names: Pruitt, Ross, Mnuchin, Zinke, Price … and then there’s Trump himself. From the Washington Post:

“Like Nixon, Trump has created a culture in his administration in which people feel comfortable with corruption. Trump himself has shown a complete indifference to democratic norms, to rule of law, and that sends a pretty clear signal to the people beneath him.”

Gianforte continues to support the president.

6. Taking care of our veterans. 

I imagine Gianforte supports our veterans. Good, but just because he votes in support of veteran issues doesn’t make him a champion for veterans. And his efforts pale in comparison to those by Montana Sen. Jon Tester.

7. Rebuilding our military.

Yeah, our poor military-industrial complex. The U.S. spends more on “defense” than the next seven countries combined, or 54 percent of our discretionary spending. It’s tough to fund programs for health and human services, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, education, environmental protection … but military spending? Not a problem.

8. Keeping Montana and America safe.

This is basically Gianforte code for targeting immigrants, who are behind: “Drugs, gangs and human traffick(ing).” Oh, and he voted to cut off funding to sanctuary cities (and here I thought he was all about #4, fighting against “federal overreach,” and letting states and communities decide what’s best for them). He also talks about immigration reform that “resolves the status of Dreamers” without saying how he’d like to see it resolved.

9. Defending our Second Amendment rights.

Well, duh. How about those other amendments, congressman, like the First, and Third through Twenty-seventh? Gianforte did vote to “curb gun violence” by supporting H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows anyone over 18-years-old who isn’t a convicted felon to carry a concealed weapon across state lines. Can you explain how that bill curbs gun violence, congressman?

10. Protecting our public lands.

Gianforte has a different definition of public lands than most Montanans. “Public” for him means access for oil, gas and mining exploitation. For example, in a recent poll, 57 percent of Montanans favor Wilderness Study Areas to have their protected status continued while Gianforte wants to open up 700,000 acres in 29 WSAs to a myriad of uses. Only 11 percent agreed with Gianforte’s proposal while 24 percent said they wanted a case-by-case review. And from Western Values Project:

Gianforte … has advocated for reducing the size of protected public lands and national monuments, and has voted to undermine the Antiquities Act. He has publicly stated that protected federal lands should be returned to state control and has supported other anti-public lands legislation in his short time in Congress thus far.

11. Managing our forests again.

Here’s what Friends of the Clearwater have to say about Gianforte’s Resilient Federal Forests Act:

  • Makes road building and logging the highest priority on the National Forests.
  • Subject millions of acres of roadless wildlands on the National Forests to road-building and logging.
  • Destroy important habitat for numerous native and imperiled species across the West.
  • Damage soils and degrade water quality in watersheds around the West.
  • Do away with the required consultation process between federal agencies regarding protections for species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Then there’s his denial of climate change, a prime contributor to a longer and more intense wildfire season.

12. Bringing fiscal discipline to Washington, D.C.

Again, take a look at the Los Angeles Times story in #2, but briefly:

The tax cuts championed by President Trump (and voted for by Gianforte) are helping push the nation toward an unprecedented level of debt, heightening the risk of another financial crisis, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

It’s an inauspicious list, to be sure. What else can be said? Vote for Kathleen Williams on Tuesday, November 6.

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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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