Wednesday Quicktakes

Art Wittich, sick and tired of pretending to serve the public.Art Wittich, TEA Party state legislator facing corruption charges

Wittich Corruption Case

The Helena IR reported yesterday that the commissioner of political practices has uncovered documents that show TEA Party state legislator Art Wittich “participated in quid pro quo corruption by receiving secret and improper contributions from corporate groups ‘and in return he pledged primary fealty to that corporate group of special interests rather than to the people of his district.'”

The documents make Wittich’s removal from office a near surety.


TEA Party Senate Leader Wants to Gut Rights of American Workers

Embattled TEA Party state senate leader Debby Barrett is calling for a federal law change that would decimate the rights of American workers. (Our state legislators have not figured out that they don’t make federal laws.) The proposal would redefine what counts as a majority related to union votes – a different standard would apply when the decision benefits the worker as opposed to the employer.  It would also allow employers to delay union elections votes and again, for years.  The bill also allows employers to set up sham “votes” and stick unions with the bill to drain the unions finances.

You can read a good explanation of this nonsense here.


A Puzzling Editorial in the Gazette

This week the Billings Gazette surprised the state when it came out against a major economic development opportunity for the Billings community. Apparently, in spite of Montana’s doctor shortage, the Gazette has decided to oppose a proposal for a private entity to partner with a local university to build a medical school in the Billings area, presumably because Montana’s existing doctors are organizing against new doctors. There are actually two private entities courting Billings and Missoula with medical school economic development projects.

For a moment, let’s put aside the need for more doctors, and the idea that new competition could help drive down the cost of medical care and wait times–and let’s acknowledge that not every doctor in Montana is buying a new boat or adding a second deck this year.

What struck me about the Gazette opinion is this line:

we’re concerned that a for-profit medical school will compete for precious resources against the highly successful WWAMI program which trains Montana and Wyoming doctors, and sends them back to communities here.


The WWAMI program subsidizes out-of-state tuition for Montanans who go to the University of Washington school of medicine, allowing them to pay in-state tuition rates and picking up the tab for the rest so the student doesn’t have to pay out-of-state tuition. According to legislative staff, the taxpayers pick up the tab for this at about a million dollars a year. Twenty Montana students are accepted each year, and 80 are in the program in any given year.  However, there is no requirement that the doctors who get the taxpayer subsidized tuition do their residencies in Montana.  Given that several national studies say that as many as 80 percent of doctors settle in the communities where they do their residencies, it could be questioned whether a program without a requirement that students complete a residency in Montana should be called successful without qualifications.


10 Comments on "Wednesday Quicktakes"

  1. Sen. Debby Barrett (R-Dillon) has been brainwashed by the Koch funded Heritage Foundation and Heartland Institute who sends each MT legislator anti-Union, pro-corporate magazines, papers, and books (in toilet reading format) all written by dishonest paid corporate shills. Debbie expresses in her letter the desire to gut our labor laws and go back to 1930 (think 12 hour days, no retirement, deadly working conditions, no vacations, no middle class, slave wages, etc). Her op-ed is so full of crap and misinformation it is astounding. When attacking Obama and the state of our economy she deliberately fails to mention that Obama cut our deficit from $3 Trillion to $439 Billion and the unemployment rate is at a historic low. She also attacks the ACA by making false claims and then LIES saying Union dues go to political campaigns (which is already banned!), she also fails to mention Unions are 100% Democratically run. Her “ready made solution” is a ALEC anti-Union pro-Fascist bill. We can not let the MTGOP drag us into their race to the bottom. We can not let Montana end up like TEA party run Wisconsin and Kansas (huge deficits, low wages, cut services, failing infrastructure, etc..) as Debby and her ilk want so badly. About ten years ago I got to sit and talk one-on-one with retired Sen. Alen Simpson (R-WY), he told me that he was afraid the Republican party would be taken over by extreme ideologues….his fears came true and now the Godless Corporations are using TEA party ideologues like Debby and Wittich (knowingly or not) to dismantle and destroy our Constitutional Democracy and sacrifice the future of our State and our country at the alter of profit.

  2. Here’s a chart of the USA unemployment rate,
    based on the way the FED measures unemployment.

    I think that’s a valid chart to point to.
    Of course there’s lots of reasons the FED does not measure/chart real unemployment!
    Whatever! But it’s the FED unemployment numbers, integrated with FED interest rate numbers and more, that vectors enormous amounts of short term $peculation.

    The FED unemployment numbers decline trend is so strong, that all the more reason to market force interest rates up by .25%, says some of central bank aka the FED.
    (Which is not federal and may not have enough reserves, and continues to be privileged to not be subject to Public audit. Not long ago, regional Tea Party activists were critical of the FED and the IMF.)

  3. RIght-wing corruption in government carries one grave risk not present among corrupt progressives. That risk is the unrestrained influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a private club whose members include State Legislators, Corporations, and Business owners. ALEC writes “model legislation” which is taken back to the States by it’s members and introduced into law on the local level.

    ALEC has adopted another alarming and sinister priority:
    Article V of the United States Constitution describes the process whereby the US Constitution may be altered. Constitutional Amendments may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either—as determined by Congress—the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or State ratifying conventions in three-fourths states.

    At the American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in July 2015, Mike Huckabee explained why Article V of the US Constitution is the only way to restore “Balance of Power Between the States and Washington DC.”

    “…. I’m so very supportive of the national effort to invoke Article V of the Constitution – because it is the only way we will ever be able to devolve power away from Washington back to the States as the founders of this country intended it to be. The genius of our constitution and it is nothing short of inspired, is that throughout the document there was such concern on the part of the founders that government might one day get too big, too powerful, too concentrated, too centralized; that they built in all kinds of checks and balances so there would always be a way to reign that power away from the few and redistribute it back to the many… I’m hoping that as people understand Article V and the POWER of it and the VALUE of it; that we will see State Legislatures across America use the only power that’s left to us… and restore the balance of power…. Let’s make sure that Freedom Rings… that Freedom Rings. God Bless You”

    John OBrien says:
    The irony…The naked hypocrisy: Huckabee is addressing a private club consisting of more than 2000 right wing State Legislators and their corporate sponsors. These ALEC conventions have a primary objective: to bend the will of State Legislatures to achieve the objectives of ALEC members, whose Board (in 2012 – no current info available due to secrecy) included ‘American Bail Coalition’, GlaxoSmithKline, ‘Reynolds American’, ‘Energy Future Holdings’, PhRMA, Pfizer Inc., Diageo, AT&T, United Parcel Service, Peabody Energy, ‘Kock Companies Public Sector LLC’, Altria, ExxonMobile, and State Farm Insurance.

  4. things like this make me so depressed I want to just quit sometimes. it now seems the truth about the CIA/JFK killing is finally come out, so now maybe people will believe me when I talk about the not-so-secret conspiracy to subvert our government and take our real freedom, hatched by H.Dubya Bush and his cronies in about 1970. Prescott Bush attempted a coup in the 30’s and never gave up and it’s just our bad luck we had no Smedley Butler to save us from the Reagan/Bush coup. guess i’ll put on my tinfoil beanie and hit the sack now…

  5. You know the right-wing legislators like Barrett don’t actually write these, right? They have these boilerplate churning groups like AFP, or so-called “Right to Work” or whomever ghost write them for the GOP-ers, who then change 2 words or something and submit them as their own.

  6. Very puzzling to see the MT Cowgirl supporting ‘for profit’ medical schools in Montana. Anyway, looks like the proposal for a Manipal ‘for profit’ Medicial School in Missoula was just pulled.

    Note below where Manipal “said their decision was based on an extensive analysis of the undergraduate and graduate medical education that medical students and graduates from the proposed school would need and the lack of patients and medical educators to provide the quality of education that Manipal is dedicated to.”

    Plug pulled on Missoula medical school proposal
    By Melissa Rafferty

  7. Duncan Chambers, PhD | December 10, 2015 4:02 PM at 4:02 PM |

    Montana does not need a for-profit diploma mill turning out 150 osteopath a year.

    • Maybe not, but the subsidized tuition deal could use updating. If Montana taxpayers are paying Medical school tuition, then Montana should get doctors. Does anyone know how many of the subsidized students actually end up practicing medicine in Montana?

    • Thank you. That is a well-written piece that, among other things, makes the case that the best way to increase the number of doctors in Montana is to increase the number of residency programs in Montana that are available to the students in the WWAMI program.

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