Steve Daines Betrays Montana Workers, Votes to Reduce Unemployment Benefits in Relief Package

During his social media tantrum while the real Senators were working on the coronavirus relief bill, Senator Daines wanted Montanans to believe that he was looking out for the workers who make our communities run. On Tuesday night, he shared that he was going to bed thinking about Montana workers who have lost their jobs.

Speaking to an empty Senate chamber, Daines postured mightily.

And then Wednesday night came and the Senate finally had the chance to vote on a better bill, one that would not enrich the Trump family, one that put limits on the funds funneled to corporations, one that offered meaningful relief for those workers Steve Daines went to bed “thinking about.”

And then Daines voted against them.

While he voted, as the entire Senate did, for the relief package as a whole, Daines first vote for an amendment that would have capped unemployment benefits for workers because he, like Senator Lindsey Graham, was apparently worried that someone might make $23 an hour in unemployment benefits for four months in the middle of a pandemic that is wreaking havoc on families across the country.

Daines, who enjoys free healthcare and just took another paid month off from the Senate starting last night, who demanded a personal tax break in the massive tax giveaway to the rich in 2017, seems to believe that other people should sacrifice during the outbreak and that the very nurses, grocery workers, and food producers who are literally risking their health and lives to keep us safe and fed will be so tempted by the prospect of a few bucks that’d they abandon work for unemployment benefits.

From a statement by Senators Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse about the amendment Daines voted for:

“If the federal government accidentally incentivizes layoffs, we risk life-threatening shortages in sectors where doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are trying to care for the sick, and where growers and grocers, truckers and cooks are trying to get food to families’ tables.

The implication is clear: those workers will go home, kick back, and watch Netflix if we make unemployment benefits something other than poverty-level assistance, even though, of course, that ‘s not how these workers think, nor is it even how unemployment works.

From Vanity Fair:

Yes, it takes a real parody of a Republican to worry—at a time when a deadly pandemic is sweeping the nation and doctors are discussing the prospect of having to pick which patients get to live—about the possibility of being too generous to people making 1/1000000th of their annual salary.

I have no doubt that Steve Daines went to sleep Wednesday night thinking about the workers of Montana, but he wasn’t thinking about how he could help them through a crisis that is unprecedented in our living memory. He was thinking as he always does, that money for corporations and millionaires is an American value and assistance and basic concern for the hard-working people who make our country run is socialism.

He was thinking with contempt about the nurses, cooks, and all the others who have worked tirelessly to make sure that we have health care, food, and other vital services during this crisis.

Imagine feeling that way about the people we’ve all depended on—and will continue to depend on—as this crisis unfolds. Imagine having millions of dollars, free healthcare, limitless vacation time, and bank account fattened up by your own voting record and having the audacity, the indecency, to impugn the character of the very people who make your life possible.

That’s how Steve Daines “thinks” about Montana workers.

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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  • Well said, and no surprise about Daines – this is the GOP mindset. Their objection is beyond stupid. Nobody would choose not to work in favor of going on unemployment benefits – which are only TEMPORARY!

    And nobody would quit working to go on unemployment, because then they would be ineligible for benefits.

  • Stop lying. Stop the spin. Go with the facts. Everyone know about Pelosi’s pork-a-thon. Stop insulting the voters. The bill was screwed up and they caught it. The way is was written one would get paid more on unemployment then working. No way one should be better, money wise, to stay out of work. You lost 2016, Mueller Report, impeachment, and got a butt chewing from Mr. Daines. So get over it.

    Remember in November

    • How can anyone who can read, can see, can hear, support the right wing people who do nothing for us peons, except dupe the dumber ones into voting for them.

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