In his latest fundraising email blast, headlined “Free Stuff,” Sen. Steve Daines comments on last week’s Democratic presidential primary debate:
“They promised “free” college, “free” healthcare, and one candidate even promised to give families $120,000… “
Never letting the facts get in the way of a fear-based campaign fundraiser, he continues:
“The United States Senate is going to be the last line of defense against the Left’s plan to take away our guns and socialize medicine.”
Is Daines saying the Executive Branch will be in Democratic hands and won’t be vetoing “socialist” bills? It will all be up to Daines and the Senate? Excellent.
Before dissecting these trumped-up fabrications, a few questions: Do you any have proposals, senator, on reducing crushing student debt or reining in our unsustainable health care system? Any bills that might address the gun violence that has claimed over 350 lives in mass shootings since the first of the year? And perhaps the most pressing question of all — any plans for reducing carbon emissions to mitigate the climate crisis?
I didn’t think so.
Daines has been an extremely ineffective senator except for his focus on reducing the tax burden for himself and other millionaires and billionaires. The Montana Post reported on these efforts here and here.
But back to Daines’ claim that Democratic candidates want “free” college. There’s one person suggesting canceling student loan debt. It’s Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal. A few other candidates have ideas — free community college tuitions, free four-year tuition for students in need, national service to offset college debt, etc. — but that’s not quite the same as “free” college for everyone.
Then there’s Daines’ “free” health care accusation. Of course there’s no such thing as “free” health care. It’s how paying for health care is structured. Two moderate columnists in a New York Times article lay out how it would work:
True, Medicare for All would increase federal health care spending. But that is not the same as increasing total health care spending, which was over $3.5 trillion last year. Instead, Medicare for All would move money from one column (private health insurance spending) to another (federal health spending); it does not automatically increase total costs.
A recent study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University — a free-market center generally hostile to government programs — estimates that for the 10 years between 2022 and 2031 the total national health costs for Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan would actually be $50.1 trillion. That would be $2 trillion less than if we let the system operate as it currently does.
Candidate Andrew Yang does promote a Universal Basic Income of $1000 a month to everyone over 18 years of age, which is a bit different than Daines’ quote that Yang has “promised to give families $120,000.” I wish. I could use it. But no, it would just be a novel experiment to offset some of the other entitlements that are already in place. It’s also a policy idea that will never see the light of day. It does make for a good Daines “socialist” sound bite, though.
Finally, there’s Daines’ attack on presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. As the former U.S. Representative serving El Paso, Texas, O’Rourke was understandably shaken when a white supremacist shot up his hometown Walmart, killing 22 and wounding 24 with a military grade, semi-automatic rifle. Hence, the O’Rourke quote, “Hell yes, we’re going to take away you’re AR-15, your AK-47.”
That’s substantially different from Daines’ claim of “the Left’s plan to take away our guns.” Also, O’Rourke is proposing a buyback program, not confiscation.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Montana media had some sort of recurring fact check column that held candidates accountable for their deceptive statements? Oh well, it’s just another day in the Daines campaign to obscure the truth with red-meat talking points gleaned from the GOP playbook. He could be offering up real solutions to the myriad problems that confront our state, country and world, but that’s not Daines’ style. Better get used to it.