Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "...an uncanny knack for sharp insider information..."--AP "...amazingly accurate inside info..."--Politico.com "...a viral sensation..."--Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."--Washington Post
TEA party congressman Steve Daines is the target of a new, yearlong campaign to expose the influence the TEA Party has over Members of Congress.
As on opening salvo, Americans United for Change will release an extensive report tomorrow that looks at the voting records of members of congress from swing districts entitled ‘TEA Stained’, which you, dear readers, can check out now here: www.TeaPartyScorecard.com
‘TEA Stained’ analyzes the 2013 voting records of 47 politically vulnerable House Republicans, including Montana’s sole representative in Congress, Daines, to find out just how gangrenous their TEA Party loyalty has become.
When they looked at all the votes nationally, Americans United for Change found that swing district Republicans vote with the TEA Party on average 81 percent of the time. Yet Daines went above and beyond the call of TEA Party duty, voting for their counterproductive garbage 88 percent of the time.
We’re talking about votes on issues of top priority to groups like Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks–votes to slash food assistance, to shut down the government, to block hurricane relief for Sandy victims, and to privatize Medicare.
Now that this is out there, its going to be a lot easier to explain to your sister-in-law that Steve Daines votes with the TEA Party 88% of the time. This startling fact is likely to become part of the national dialogue, especially with the help of paid ads/polling/grassroots activity from Montanans holding Daines accountable for putting a handful of ideological extremists, imbeciles, and exploitive out-of-state billionaires ahead of our economy and the middle class.
Daines and crew gutted help for the unemployed, obstructed efforts to raise the minimum wage, and standing in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. But given the mountain of national and in-district polling showing the percentage of people identifying themselves as TEA Party consistently falls in the high teens to low twenties at best, and that voters disapproval of the TEA Party consistently ranges from the high forties to near sixties, his votes are going to have some consequences. His approval rating will take a hot when people find out what this crackpot has been up to.
Anyway, this project got started in the wake of the two-week, TEA Party orchestrated government shutdown, Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse explained. Republicans realized at that point started to realize how unpopular the TEA Party’s crazy agenda really was, and they started trying to pretend they weren’t part of it. That’s become Daines’ specialty: remaining on the down low.
Says Woodhouse, “Voters deserve better. Whether they embrace the Tea Party ideology or despise it or fall anywhere in between, they have a right to know where their elected representatives fall on the TEA Party spectrum – not where they say they fall, but how they actually vote. That is what the TEA Party Scorecard provides. What it proves, unfortunately for non-extremists who are represented by Republicans, is that there is no longer a meaningful distinction between the Tea Party and the Republican Party in American politics today.”
This is the tiring thing that politics has become.
Yesterday, we learn that John Walsh was cited in 2010 with an incredibly minor infraction while he was Commander of the Montana National Guard. He used his government email account to do work related to his membership in the National Guard Association of the United States. This is a national non-profit composed of Guard members, which lobbies on their behalf and on behalf of the National Guard generally. This, an audit committee found, amounts to “using government resource for private gain.” How this amounts to “private gain” when the Association does work on behalf of the Montana Guard does not make sense to me. Anyway, Walsh was not punished or penalized because it was a minor incident. Continue reading →
The John Bohlinger and Dirk Adams campaigns are naturally pushing hard on Steve Bullock not to appoint John Walsh, the lieutenant Governor, to the US Senate to fill the vacancy left by Max Baucus. Continue reading →
Montana state Sen. Jon Sonju (R-Kalispell) has filed paperwork for a federal political action committee.
The PAC is called “Montana Solutions,” but the address and bank account for the committee are in Washington D.C.
In fact the PAC has the same address as a lobbying firm called “Crossroads Strategies.” Clients of Crossroads strategies include the company formerly known as Phillip Morris, several pharmaceutical companies, some telecommunications companies, private schools, and the NRA, among others.
Although accepting federal funds to extend health coverage to the working poor would help small businesses, TEA Party Congressman Steve Daines has refused to hear the truth–even when told to him by business owners at a recent listening session. Continue reading →
You can’t pick up a rock these days without encountering a misinformed mob of RWNJs repeating Fox News anger points about the Affordable Care Act. The main themes lately are cancelled junk plans and bad information about prices.
First, we go to the right-wing media frenzy around the “cancelled insurance plan” story arc. What Republicans are hoping that nobody tells you is this. Before the reforms were passed, insurance companies had been turning away about 20% of people who wanted to be insured. These were people who had pre-existing conditions, people who were considered good customers until they got sick and the bills came in, or people that the insurance companies thought would be likely to have higher cost health care needs.
So when you read in theNY Times that hundreds of thousands of people in the individual market are receiving cancellation notices– from insurance companies who had been selling plans that actually provide very little coverage mind you–remember this. The individual market is made up of 19 million people. So if hundreds of thousands lose a junk plan now, that’s about 5% of the market – not 20% who were refused, kicked, off, or denied before. Besides, new consumer protections mean that losing a bad plan no longer can means you can’t get health care. Insurers can no longer refuse to cover 20% of Americans. They can no longer refuse people who hadn’t had insurance in a while, and they can no longer kick you out if you get sick.
Then there’s the specter of the crazy astronomical rate increases, or “rate shock.” The facts don’t support this one either. You see, here in Montana, we got better rates. Prices are lower now than they were before the new health care law.
For the first time, we’re getting some competition in the market. Before the ACA, one insurance company controlled most of the market share: Blue Cross Blue Shield. Now, there are three companies, and this exchange “marketplace” competition has resulted in competitive prices. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, because companies can no longer turn people away to increase profits, they’re competing over price instead instead of what they call “risk selection”–cherry-picking the people a company bets are least likely to get sick.
Besides, in most states in the U.S. the past, there were false price standards due to the practice of male vs. female quoting, discriminatory prices based on whether you were a woman or a man, which is now illegal. Many states allowed companies to change lower prices for some (men) and increase them for others (women) so people had a false sense of what insurance actually cost.
Of course, we all know that the reason some of these myths are so pervasive is that the president has basically sat back and let the opposition frame the entire discussion about the Affordable Care Act. Doing so was a grave mistake. In politics, it doesn’t work to play “correct the record” after the fact by digging into the minutia of a complicated policy to “educate” people over to your point of view – and Obama isn’t even doing that much.
The myths won’t go away until the President stops letting everyone else define the debate. The truth won’t start to spread until people start telling their friends about the $25/month health plans they got–and of course, until the website starts working more consistently.