What Does the Fox Say

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox

A Montana state senator and professor of economics is calling foul on GOP Attorney General Tim Fox for obscuring the facts about an initiative that would cost the state billions and eliminate health care for 100,000 of the state’s poorest children.

The state lawmaker and PhD economist called Fox’s official explanation of the cost of a ballot measure to nullify the Affordable Care Act “entirely inadequate” and says it “grossly misstates the principal findings of the fiscal note on which it is based.”

Here’s what’s happening. State law allows Tim Fox to write “fiscal statements” for every proposed ballot initiative, and the public has the right to comment on these statements.   In a public comment letter to the Attorney General and members of the Montana legislature, Sen. Barrett, a PhD economist, explains the impact of RWNJ TEA Party legislative candidate Matthew Monforton‘s proposed ballot initiative to nullify the Affordable Care Act.

The measure would make it illegal for the state of Montana to obey any part of this federal law.  Sen. Barrett writes:

Due to non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act, the State would lose an estimated $4.76 billion in Federal revenue over a five year period, and without a significant increase in state taxes, would be forced to terminate its Medicaid Plan, Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and several other health programs  due to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act.

That’s right, besides some pretty obvious constitutional problems, Monforton’s ballot initiative would throw seniors and people with disabilities out of nursing homes–and strip 100,000 of the states poorest kids of health coverage.

Tim Fox has said this would save money.  Sen. Barrett’s letter includes Tim Fox’s official analysis, which reads:

“The State would save an estimated $1.26 billion in state revenues over a five year period based on an assumption that the federal government would end the state’s Medicaid Plan, Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and several other health programs due to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act.”

There is no mention of what the state is supposed to do to come up with the nearly $5 billion this initiative will cause the state to lose.  Eliminating Montana’s existing Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids programs, refusing billions in federal funds, obliterating one of the largest existing, current revenue streams for dozens of rural and community hospitals (employers)–all of this would do anything but save money.  Rather, the proposal would mean be a massive loss of it, for families, the private sector, and the state of Montana alike.

Now let’s talk about what it would mean to eliminate Medicaid and Health Montana Kids.

Medicaid covers about 100,000 people in Montana. About 20 percent of them are blind or disabled, 7 percent are the elderly in nursing or assisted living homes–60 percent are children.  In addition to these 60,000 kids another 25,000 kids get health care through the Healthy Montana Kids Plan, which the Monforton initiative would also eliminate.

As you know, these are people who are eligible under Montana’s existing Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids programs, since the Montana legislature refused to accept federal funding to extend Medicaid eligibility to the working poor in 2013.

If you’re wondering what Tim Fox’s actions are saying to the 125,000 of the poorest Montana citizens who will be in trouble when the state’s Medicaid and Childrens’ Health Insurance programs are completely eliminated, this pretty much sums it up.

It’s also a little suspicious that Fox doesn’t post the actual fiscal note online. The fiscal note is what contains the information Fox is supposed to base his “fiscal statement” on. The legislature has to publicly post fiscal notes, Fox should too. If he has done so, I can’t find it.  One wonders what it is he doesn’t want us to know.

You can read Sen. Barrett’s entire comment letter to the Attorney General below. But before you do, here is one more interesting item of note.

Seems the Montana Hospital Association, who were proponents of several Medicaid expansion bills last session, have some electoral plans in the works.   At their last board meeting, members were presented with an analysis of voting records–how every legislator voted on the various Medicaid expansion bills during the last legislative session.

They also received a comprehensive briefing on allowable political and electoral activities for the 2014 election cycle.  All this can be seen in the publicly posted minutes from the trade association’s last board meeting.  The minutes also show that the hospital association is planning initial expenditures of about $1 million on 2014 races.

A look at the candidate filings so far also shows several GOP candidates will get primaries –not from the right, but from from the responsible, pro-mainstreet wing of the party. You can download the candidate filing list here.

Anyway, it looks like the TEA Party wing of the GOP is going to have a few fights on their hands, and probably won’t be able to spare the resources to help Matthew Monforton get the 24,000 signatures he needs in order to get this on the ballot.

______________

From: Dick Barrett <rnewbar@gmail.com>
Date: February 23, 2014 at 2:20:37 PM MST
To: “Bennion, Jon” <JonBennion@mt.gov>
Subject:Comment on Fiscal Statement

Jon Bennion
Deputy Attorney General
Montana Department of Justice

Dear Mr. Bennion:

I am writing in response to your request for comments and suggested edits to the Attorney General’s proposed fiscal statement to accompany the Initiative Prohibiting Funding of the Affordable Care Act; your request was forwarded to me by Sen. Driscoll.

I have reviewed the fiscal note on which the statement is based, the relevant provision in the law requiring that a fiscal statement be produced (MCA 13-27-312 (3)), and the statement itself, which I understand reads  “The State would save an estimated $1.26 billion in state revenues over a five year period based on an assumption that the federal government would end the state’s Medicaid Plan, Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and several other health programs due to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act.”

I believe that as written the statement is entirely inadequate and grossly misstates the principal findings of the fiscal note on which it is based. I understand that reducing a 17 page fiscal note to 50 words is difficult, and that only certain findings in the fiscal note, presumably the most significant, can be included in the statement. That being the case, it is obvious that the loss to the state, between FY 2015 and FY 2019, of almost $4.8 billion in Federal Special Revenue, described in the fiscal note, is far and away the fiscal effect with the most severe and sweeping impacts on both state finances and programs.

Surely individuals signing a petition to put this initiative on the ballot and the voters, if the initiative makes it to the ballot, should be aware that approval of the initiative will reduce total state revenue from all sources by approximately one fifth, and that as a result of that loss of revenue, the state will not be able, short of an extremely large increase in state taxes, to afford existing health programs for low income Montanans, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Any wording of the statement that did not make these fiscal implications clear would, in my opinion, be inexcusably deceptive.

Accordingly, in response to your request for suggested edits, I would propose the following:

“Due to non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act, the State would lose an estimated $4.76 billion in Federal revenue over a five year period, and without a significant increase in state taxes, would be forced to terminate its Medicaid Plan, Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and several other health programs.”

Sen. Dick Barrett – District 47 - Montana State Senate

Home: 219 Agnes, Missoula, MT 59801

Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

This post was written by Cowgirl

37 thoughts on “What Does the Fox Say

  1. Drifter

    It doesn’t surprise this long horrified observer of human nature that Fox doesn’t seem to understand that federal law always trumps state law, whether we like it or not. After all, he is dumping taxpayer dollars into defending the Montana Shooting Sports Association’s ludicrous suit in the federal courts. Whatever happened to fiscal restraint, common sense and most of all common decency?

    1. Jeff McGrath

      Fox is a buffoon hack who is manipulated by his staff, the show runs him, not the other way around. He’s basically a sock puppet for whatever special interest comes along.

      If they told him to smile and say, as AG, I WILL serve special interests…. because everyone’s interests are special to me. (then i wink at the cam/TEA baggers standing around) He would do it.

    2. Dave Skinner

      So, because this is a federal mandate, and a misguided, expensive mandate at that, the states should just roll over and comply?

  2. Old Line, Democrat

    AG Fox is a right wing ideologue who has a tremendous opportunity to make some very bad, very mis-guided decisions that will have long-range implications for Montanans. Watch him carefully on the Land Board. With him in office the tea party controlling interests only need one more vote, and they are focusing on Superintendent of Public Instruction, to decimate our state land policies. We need to keep an eye on this guy. He is more clever than some are suggesting and he has religious fevor driving him.

  3. Dallas Reese

    Fox is obviously cherry picking the numbers. He’s attempting to use a half truth to persuade Montana voters that this cold hearted idea will really save money. Nothing unusual there.

    Senator Barrett is too much of a gentleman to call Fox’s “analysis” BULL SHIT (in a word) but that’s exactly what it is.

    1. Greg Strandberg

      I remember back in 2005 or so Professor Barrett had just gotten our Principles of Macroeconomics tests done. This was a big class, maybe 50 people.

      He said he’d never seen tests that were so abysmal. So bad were they, in fact, that we were allowed to take it again. I don’t think there was much improvement.

      Economists don’t have steel-barbed tongues that lash out, striking fear into anyone on the receiving end and drawing blood from the ideas they care about. I think there’s too much science in that discipline.

  4. Publius II

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/arkansas-gop-lawmaker-medicaid-expansion

    What a parasite, government spends a million bucks for this guy to deny healthcare to others, sounds like biblical lesson here, do NOT oppress the poor.. In the service, we’d learned to LEAD by example, so is Rep. Miller going to pay back?

    By the way, an Army buck sergeant earns about $50,000 in benefits and a two-star Major General earns about $250,000, so that’s five times
    more than the non-com, and in Korporate America, the CEOs of our new Gilded Age earn up to 200 times what the junior leader earns.

    LIKE, the Georgia (R) Governor who wants federal LAW to repeal emergency care from hospitals, because rural GA hospitals (and MT I suppose) are in communities with many with NO healthcare at all, and instead of supporting ACA and medicaid expansion, Georgia is telling citizens – including women in labor -
    just go of and DIE, we can’t be bothered!

    1. Greg Strandberg

      There was no healthcare in China or Hong Kong. In the busiest business shopping center next to Victoria Harbour there were always burn victims, amputees, and other people that had been maimed somehow somewhere.

      Sometimes there’d be people with no arms. Once there was a guy with no arms and no legs – he had to hold his bowl in his mouth. Most of us just walked right on by.

      The mainland was worse. In Anyi province the medical companies convinced all the people to start donating plasma for money. Unfortunately when they put the blood back in them it had HIV in it. Lots of resources went into covering that up.

      That’s what no healthcare and no government support structures or oversight looks like.

  5. Richard Miller

    In answer to your title, he has said nothing and will be nothing for he is nothing and represents nothing. Who the hell voted for this nothing?

  6. Craig Moore

    Richard, you asked, Who voted for Tim Fox? The answer is 53.7% of Montana’s voting population. The Dem candidate could only register 46.3%. Now, why the hell couldn’t the Dem candidate bump the needle any higher than that? Perhaps there really is something less than nothing.

    1. draftmama

      Bucy was outspent – simple as that. Over $700K in out of state money purchased a boat load of TV ads and our pitifully ill-informed voters took the bait. Fox never even turned up to debate his opponent (who incidentally is highly qualified for the position) because he knew he would look like an ignorant buffoon, and he knew he was going to win anyway. Win for democracy – not.

      1. Bigskygirl

        You are absolutely RIGHT! Big Out-Of-State Money, also working for Steve Daines, BTW “Americans for Prosperity”=Koch Brothers, & Dick Army! And APATHY, and people watching way too much news, no fact checking, ,and possibly only “FAUX NEWS” I’ve met them. “Sheeple”

      2. Craig Moore

        I can just see the Dem ads, posters, and bumper stickers now. “You pitifully ill-informed voters took the bait. Next time vote Democrat.” I’m sure the Montanans you describe that way will be impressed and do what they are told.

        1. Turner

          Craig, You seem to take great pleasure in pointing out how Montanans are likely to vote in Daines. I notice that you don’t bother to defend his voting record or his competency. Instead you’re smugly comfortable with the thought that there is enough out-of-state money and enough easily led voters to elect this guy regardless of what a douche-bag he is repeatedly shown to be.

          It’s really sad that one of our major political parties depends for its success on manipulating an ignorant populace through lies, evasions, and distortions. You and your friends are utterly without shame.

          1. Craig Moore

            Turner, right back at ya. It is you who should feel real shame when you assert that Montana has an ignorant populace that can be manipulated through ads.

          2. Craig Moore

            … apparently it never occurred to you and others with you condescending smug arrogance that Montanans appreciate the gravity of their vote and their choices. Because they don’t match what you would choose, therefore they must be idiots. Such arrogant condescension from the intelligentsia.

            1. Turner

              Your party, Craig, is the one appealing to the most racist and otherwise bigoted element. It’s your party that lies about Obama’s place of birth and religion. It’s your party that claims to be on the side of veterans but votes to cut their benefits. It’s your party that lies about the effects of abortions on women. It’s your party that lies about the effects of carbon fuels on the earth’s environment.

              Yes, there are a lot of people in Montana who are too busy, too distracted, too overwhelmed, and sometime too ignorant, to take the time to look through all these lies. Your party depends on their not taking the time.

              I have total disdain for the leaders of the Republican Party.

              1. Craig Moore

                Turner, rocks from a glass house and all that.

                First, I am not a republican. I have no party and haven’t for many years. I’ve explained at this blog but apparently you missed it, and besides it would have messed up your “holy than thou” rant.

                Now as to lies and deceptions? How about Walsh?
                == He hid his official reprimand from the voters in the last election.
                ==He admitted to the general that he had made mistakes and learned from them. Only, now on the campaign trail, he is anything but humble, remorseful, and asking forgiveness like he did with the general. In fact, he now boasts about the incident.
                ==Then on his campaign website he takes credit for legislation that he had NO PART OF WHATSOEVER. He didn’t testify for it or lobby for it in the press. It was an R bill that Bullock merely signed.

                So your self-righteous finger pointing should start with your own and clean up that act first.

                1. Turner

                  Knock off the bullshit, Craig. Of course you’re a Republican. You may even be one of their operatives. Your full-time job is looking for teeny weenie slip-ups by Democrats (though I don’t think you’ve found one in Walsh yet) an magnifying them as much as you can.

                  You’re just a right-wing hack.

                  1. Craig Moore

                    Wrong on all accounts. The Bullshit is all yours. This conversation went off the rails and into the bullshit swamp with the ad hominem attacks against Montanans who voted for Bullock and later against me. Somehow you guys seem to take comfort in your self-righteousness in excoriating anyone who doesn’t vote Dem no matter the candidate. In you neck of the woods, Norma Duffy lost by a truly embarrassing margin. I suppose all those Montanans who voted for the alternative also were just ignorant fools by your measure. Look, I know you will hang on to your arrogant condescension and place your hopes on shaming (like Chase Chase saying , “Jane, you ignorant slut…”) fellow montanans to vote your way. We’ll just see how it goes. And is Dr. Phil would say, “So, how is that working for you so far?”

                    1. Lynn

                      I never said anything about the 2012 vote. I have asked about the Campaign Promises that Fox made in comments below ,

                      You were the one to interject the Walsh comments. You keep raising the Walsh issue, but get mad if anyone raises a similar one about a Republican. Your the one who
                      keep claiming that no one will vote for Walsh and Daines will win, 8 months before the election. I’d like to have the primaries first and see who the candidates will be.

                      I do think that if the Democratic Party had done anything like the fake fund raising web sites it would be major news on Fox and Conservative web sites.

  7. Bigskygirl

    Why would he AGREE, to let the petitions advance forward for “Expanded Medicaid” and now this? We are already rallying the Troops! I knew he was a “Douche” But why this?

  8. Lynn

    Has Fox done anything on Campaign Finance laws?

    “Fox, a Helena private-practice attorney who ran for the job in 2008, said he would also continue the appeals. He said Montana needs some sort of limits on campaign contributions, which may need to be enacted with legislation if the current decision stands.

    “It is important for Montana’s attorney general to vigorously defend Montana’s laws,” Fox said. “Should I be fortunate enough to be elected, I will look forward to defending these campaign laws on Montana’s behalf.”

    Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/montana-attorney-general-candidates-defend-state-campaign-laws/article_093ce157-81ba-53c2-887c-6c58c9e384c7.html#ixzz2uqffirB7

  9. Jeff McGrath

    It is complete bullshit that Fox won’t post the fiscal note. But he is known for utter and complete disregard for transparency and MT public record laws. Remember when he refused to provide reporters with the list of concealed weapon permit holders, when every other AG in the past had done so per Montana’s, very strict, very clear public records laws, which are actually permanently enshrined in the Montana Constitution.

    But then, instead of obeying the request, he sent out the names of the REPORTERS who had made the request to the gun nut groups in the state and the reporters got death threats.

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