Steve Daines Votes to Gut Medicaid, Medicare, Highway Funds, Armed Services Pay and More

While Senator Daines is getting feted by the local press for his unsubstantiated role in reversing President Trump’s ill-advised plan to close the Anaconda Job Corps, less attention has been paid to his vote yesterday to slash vital programs Montana, including Medicare, Medicaid, transportation, armed services and more. 

Imagine having the nerve to vote to cut military pay and increased health care costs for seniors while demanding a massive tax cut for yourself, and you’ve imagined being Steve Daines.

Daines was one of only 22 Senators who voted for the proposal authored by Senator Rand Paul, which would cut 2% from every federal program other than Social Security over the next five years, weakening our military, undermining public health, and slashing highway funds for Montana.

Roll Call explains why the proposal failed:

But the plan, which is similar to ones he has offered in previous years, triggered bipartisan opposition because of the severity of spending cuts required to reach a balanced budget within five years, as the bill promises. Democrats oppose cuts to many domestic programs, while Republicans want to increase military spending.

Paul’s plan would require cutting all programs except Social Security by 2 percent a year from fiscal 2019 levels for the next five years. Spending would then be allowed to grow at an annual 2 percent rate for the following five years, according to a summary statement.

It’s especially galling that Daines voted for an extremist austerity package to “balance the budget” when the actions of the past two sessions of Congresses—both Republican-controlled, with a Republican President—have increased the deficit by $540 billion to pay for tax cuts for the 1% and other pet programs.

Imagine having the nerve to vote to cut military pay and increased health care costs for seniors while demanding a massive tax cut for yourself, and you’ve imagined being Steve Daines.

In fact, as Tyler Evilsizer, at the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget explains, the irresponsible tax cuts that Daines not only fought for, but demanded an additional kickback from, will increase future deficits by $2 trillion over the next ten years:

According to official projections, that tax cut increased future deficits by almost $2 trillion over a decade. And with one full year of the new tax code behind us, we now have good evidence to back up these projections. We can put to bed the myth that the tax cuts are paying for themselves.

The theory, at least, was that the tax cuts would massively accelerate economic growth. In reality, the tax bill’s deficits were an irresponsible economic experiment that poured stimulus into an already strong economy.

That even the current reactionary Republicans couldn’t muster more than 22 votes for Paul’s budget demonstrates that it was neither realistic nor responsible, but that didn’t stop Senator Daines from casting a vote for a bill that would damage our communities just months after voting to line his own pockets, deficit be damned.

One hopes that Daines, who literally had to be shamed into defending the Anaconda Jobs Corps with any vigor, will be asked by the Montana press to explain this vote for this budget bill, the passage of which would have been even more devastating than the closure of the Anaconda site he’s taking credit for saving.

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.

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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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  • Daines is just another self-interested billionaire who happens to be our Senator.

    That said, I take issue with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget quote. Although I think Tyler is a decent fellow, the CRFB is not in my opinion a decent organization. Not only are they wrong on the Federal budget deficit, ( they have a history of dishonestly fronting for the interests of corporations. (

    Much of what passes for angst over Federal budget deficits turn into, intentionally or not, an argument for austerity. Tails they win, heads we lose.

  • And you seriously think cutting our bloated military budget by 2% would “seriously weaken our military” when we already spend more than the other top 10 countries combined??? We should cut the military budget by way more than 2%! We could then afford Medicare for All, free college, etc

    • Given that the proposal Daines voted for would cut troop pay by 10%, I think it’s a bad proposal.

      And I think it’s important to note that Daines is always talking about supporting the military. It’s worth noting that he voted to slash its budget.

    • Tootie Welker, don’t confuse “cutting our bloated military budget” with cutting the troop pay by 10%. Our troops are already shamefully underpaid. Waste in the military budget is a completely different problem. Yes it shoud be cut by more than 2%. The military industrial complex is making money from our bloated military budget. But the soldiers our government use and abuse should be treated with respect. We’re big on calling them “heroes,” but not so big on respecting them enough to pay them a decent living wage, and to give them the necessary medical help when they come back maimed and traumatized after deployment in war zones.

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