Rehberg, Tell the Truth

By Beacon Staff

Congressman Denny Rehberg, by his own admission, has placed various earmarks in recent legislation, including funding for the World Trade Center. The total of these earmarks is $42 million. There’s just one word for bragging about bringing federal money home for projects and then voting against the legislation that funded them: Hypocrisy.

A recent editorial in a major Montana paper praised the Congressman for such earmarks. However, this really misses the larger point and that’s not being truthful. Rehberg has said that he could not vote for the Recovery Act or the spending bill because of the excess spending and earmarks therein – the same earmarks he worked to place in the legislation! More importantly, once he voted against both of these measures he then paraded around the state touting the benefits of the infrastructure improvements such as water projects, roads and bridges, school improvement projects, etc. He voted against these exact projects. In my neighborhood, that’s like taking credit for shoeing a string of horses you’ve never seen.

Montana, thanks to the leadership of Gov. Schweitzer and Sens. Baucus and Tester, until now has avoided the real crunch of the economic meltdown. However, that’s changing. Montanans are hurting. More families are having difficulty paying their mortgages, educating their children, and providing the basics to their families. Farmers and ranchers face the situation where the value of our crops and livestock is less than cost of production.

Congressman Rehberg is traveling the state talking about the need for good-paying jobs. Yet he’s voted against raising the minimum wage at his every opportunity. He voted against the Recovery Act, which will provide 11,000 good paying jobs in Montana. Only a professional politician that’s been eating out of the public trough for more than two decades could believe he could get away with talking out of both sides of his mouth. This hypocrisy must stop and there should be accountability. Montanans know Rehberg voted for polices that took a budget surplus that existed when he went to Washington in 2000 and turned that surplus into a $1.7 trillion deficit by 2008. The national debt doubled as he consistently voted in favor of the Bush-Cheney economic policies. These are the unpleasant facts and Congressman Rehberg owes Montanans an explanation.

From 2000 until 2008 the financial sector (the big banks) spent $5 billion on U.S. federal campaign contributions and lobbying efforts. Rehberg enjoyed a portion of these funds and this investment paid off big time for the banks. Rehberg and Congress during this time frame refused to impose new regulations on our banking system, rolled back long-standing regulatory control, and refused to enforce the regulations that were in place.

Congressman Rehberg sold out to Wall Street. For example, Congressman Rehberg failed to speak out on proposed legislation, which would have protected the public from predatory lending practices. Further, on his watch anti-trust laws were ignored and I don’t recall him speaking out about these megabanks becoming so big we cannot allow them to fail. Finally, Congressman Rehberg voted and supported the Credit Rating Agencies Reform Act of 2006, which among other things allowed false credit ratings to the big banks and the bundled securities they were selling. You and I are now paying for these abuses, which ultimately led to huge bonuses being paid for bad business judgments and ultimate failure.

Finally, most hypocritical of all is that after voting for the policies, which have brought us to the brink economically, he refuses to offer a solution. I am very much concerned about our nation’s rising debt and believe that once we’ve stabilized the economy we’ll have to roll up our sleeves and make the commitment to pay down our debt. I know Montanans will ultimately make the sacrifice to do just that, because we’ve always risen to the challenge. However, to do so we must have an honest debate and make positive suggestions on how to fix the economy and our banking system. We cannot talk about good paying jobs or the need for infrastructure improvements and then fail to support legislation which does both.

McDonald is chairman of the Montana Democratic Party and has announced that he is running for Rehberg’s congressional seat.