Tag Archives: Monica Lindeen

Senate Candidate will be chosen next week

With the announcement that John Walsh has departed the Senate race, the Democratic party is planning a date TBD next week as the nominating convention for Walsh’s replacement. The “central committee” will decide the matter. This group is composed of 175 or so party officers such as county chairs and vice chairs, all members of the executive board, presidents of each chartered Democratic organization, and the elected positions of Lt. Gov, Clerk of the Supreme Court, and Public Service Commissioner. They will descend upon Helena and convene at a TBD location and time probably in the next week to choose a replacement candidate.

Lots of rumors so far as to who will show up to make their case to the delegates, but so far only three candidates have actually said publicly that they will try for the nomination: Dirk Adams, Franke Wilmer and Dave Wanzenried. Two of them, Wilmer and Wanzenried, have excellent legislative careers and Dirk Adams was one of the few who stepped up to run in the primary.

Brian Schweitzer sent his regrets today; Nancy Keenan, widely speculated as the leading replacement candidate, is on record saying that she is not interested. Monica Lindeen also declined as has Denise Juneau.

One name not recently discussed in any great length, but which bears consideration or at least musing because he is one of only two people who could start out in the lead against Daines, is Steve Bullock. He’s 20 points more popular than Daines and even if he lost he’d still be employed.  But alas Bullock poured water on this idea today.  He’s not in the mix.

Many tips have come in today to my tip line about other names, and there has been rampant twitter speculation about many others. These include John Bohlinger, Linda McCulloch, Carl Borgquist (Bozeman), Ed Smith (Helena), Pam Bucy (Helena) Amanda Curtis (Butte), Mike Phillips (Bozeman), former Schweitzer staffers Dan Villa (Anaconda) and Eric Stern (Helena), Carol Williams (Missoula), Anna Whiting Sorrell (St. Ignatius), Diane Smith (Whitefish), Jacquie Helt (Helena), Elizabeth Best (Great Falls), Casey Schreiner (Great Falls), Kim Abbott (Helena), and Mike Cooney (Helena).

This as you can see is a wide open contest, and the convention promises to be a unique day in Montana political history. So stay tuned and enjoy the theater.  Let me know what you’re hearing about who is running in the comments.

 

 

 

Big Weekend in Montana Politics: Dem Dinner, and Bohlinger, Driscoll, Turiano, Arntzen enter race

It’s a big weekend for Democrats in more ways than one.  Tonight is the Mansfield Metcalf Dinner, the annual soiree at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds at which people drink, eat, and cheer on their favorite democratic politicians.

Make sure to look for me with my spurs and my chaps, and my donkey pin.

Tonight’s guest speaker is Cecile Richards, who is the head of Planned Parenthood of America. This is a good choice as it shows the that Democrats are becoming more comfortable in recognizing how important their stance on medical privacy really is.  And her appearance could not be more timely, coming on the heels of a horrible incident of vandalism of an abortion clinic in Montana.

Others on the list include John Walsh, our new senator, as well as Governor Steve Bullock, Senator Jon Tester, and Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen, Superintendent Denise Juneau and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. And don’t forget the popular Ed Smith, the clerk of the Supreme Court, as well as state House and Senate Leaders Jon Sesso and Chuck Hunter. Bring your money but don’t drink too much, especially if you are giving a speech. Hopefully, we can at least be assured there will be no poetry.

Even bigger news occurred Friday, when a number of politicians entered some of the top races. John Bohlinger officially entered the race against Senator Walsh. John Driscoll, the nominee for U.S. House in 2008, filed to run in the Democratic House primary against John Lewis. And Drew Turiano, a white supremacist, has filed to run in the House Race as well (the GOP always tries to have at least one white supremacist on the ballot). And Elsie Arntzen made her candidacy official, too. She presents a stark contrast to the other candidates in this crowded primary (and most other GOP primaries), and was immediately endorsed by Rick Hill.

The Bohlinger deal is interesting since he had given indications, around the time Walsh was appointed Senator, that he would bow out. But now he’s in it for certain. The 77-year-old Republican turned Democrat is a former Lt. Governor, former clothing merchant from Billings and former Marine boxer, and is well known among voters and has a freewheeling style and says what’s on his mind, contrasting to the more measured Walsh. Bohlinger has not raised much money and Walsh has raised a good clip (half a million or more), but that stuff matters only when the money is spent. We shall see how and when (or if) the Walsh campaign chooses to spend some of its war chest in the primary against Bohlinger. Bohlinger, meanwhile, is trying to fashion himself as a progressive, outsider alternative to Walsh. He says Walsh was anointed by Harry Reid and others in Washington.

By the way, word on the street is that Bohlinger has been denied a speaking spot on the program tonight. That would be okay, I suppose, if the rule were that only incumbents or unopposed candidates got to speak. But that’s not the case. We will see if Bohlinger causes a fuss (or even attends). We might even be lucky enough to hear from his and outspoken political advisor on the subject. I can’t wait. Dirk Adams, by the way, is also not listed on the program.

Nor is Driscoll, the new House candidate. But that is definitely a good thing because he is the Democratic equivalent of a Tea Party imbecile (if such a thing could even be said to exist). He has said that he plans to run for office without raising any money. We’ll see how that works out for him. Driscoll also claims the odd distinction of being the only Democrat in Montana history (so far as I can tell) to win a nomination and then immediately endorse his Republican opponent.  As the Democrat nominee in 2010 he endorsed Rehberg. That’s reason enough not to listen to anything he has to say and to let your Democratic friends know that Driscoll is simply a fraud.

You can buy a ticket at the door, and don’t miss it: 6-9 P.M.  Eat, drink and be merry, and cheer on (and donate to) our candidates. And if at any time during the festivities it gets slow or boring, just remind yourself what the Republican dinner must be like.

Cleaning Up the TEA Party’s Messes

Montana’s Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen is on the road this week, answering questions and clearing up myths about the Affordable Care Act.  She’s also  helping people find out about the new ways they can save money under the Affordable Care Act, which goes into place today.  Lindeen is to be commended for being the only elected leader in Montana with the backbone to go out on the stump to clear up the myths about Obamacare, which is still very unpopular because of all the misinformation spewed by the TEA Party.

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GUEST POST: One of the True Failures of the ACA

(This is a guest post by Moorcat, who blogs at The Road Less Traveled.

While everyone is talking about Senator Cruz’s political meltdown yesterday (Really, Green Eggs and Ham?), what people are missing is one of the huge, glaring problems with the ACA that is going to bite over 14% of Montanans squarely in the ass come Oct 1, 2013.

You see, the ACA does have real problems that no one seems interested in talking about or even recognizing. Everyone is so focused on the brainless drive to repeal/defund it because it is “evil” or to defend it because it is politically sound to do so. So few really understand it, though, and it becomes obvious every time it is debated.

One of the key failures of this law is that the framers never really took into consideration just how strongly the vocal minority would react to it. It was never built to be “idiot” proof. A very good example of that is going to happen on Oct 1st of this year.

Under the ACA, the States are required to set up insurance exchanges by Oct 1st of this year. Monica Lindeen, our Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, and her office has done a great job of setting up these exchanges for us here in Montana. Her office has also worked tirelessly to make the information about these exchanges available to anyone that wants to know about it. Moreover, she has gone above and beyond the call of duty to try to negotiate reasonable rates for those using the exchanges from the Insurance Companies that stand to make an obscene amount of profit off the people of Montana. What she can’t do, though, is change the ACA itself and that is where the real problem lies.

Last year, our “Batshit Crazy” legislature thought it would be a great idea to deny the expansion of Medicaid in Montana laid out in the ACA. Their reasoning was convoluted at best, but it basically boiled down to “The ACA is bad, m’kay”. What they failed to realize is that the ACA was designed specifically for that expansion to occur. Until the Supreme Court gave the state’s the perceived ability to “opt out” of the Medicaid expansion, the framers had no reason to built in a contingency for that to occur.

Under the ACA, almost anyone can buy into private insurance from the State Exchanges. Further, those people with an income between 100% of poverty and 400% of poverty line will qualify for subsidies based on their income to help pay for that insurance. Anyone failing to get insurance (either though Medicaid, employer provided insurance or the exchanges) will be “fined” starting April 1, 2014, with some exceptions.

The real effects of that failure will felt by everyone in Montana with an income level below 138% of poverty. According to income census information that is approximately between 14.2% – 15.6% of Montanans. In real numbers, that is about 140,000 – 150,000 Montanans, in case you were wondering.

See, under the ACA, as written, those people could take advantage of the Medicaid buy-in. Since the Montana Legislature denied that part of the ACA in a fit of “righteous indignation”, those people are denied that. Moreover, since the ACA was never designed with that idea in mind, there is nothing in the ACA to address those people. They do not qualify for the subsidies given to those in the income range of 100% – 400% of poverty and no provisions have been passed by Congress to address the situation. In short, those people have been effectively thrown under the bus. They still have to purchase insurance, but they don’t have the benefit of getting subsidies for it.

The Executive Branch of the Federal Government has reacted to this situation in the only way they can – they have suspended the fines for those in that income range in States that have denied the Medicaid buy-in. This simply means that these people aren’t going to be penalized for not having insurance. The real issue is that these people don’t have insurance, though. 14%+ of Montanan’s will not have health insurance because of the actions of our Legislature. 140,000+ people in Montana were royally screwed by the batshit crazy people sent to Helena last year. Wrap your minds around this for second.

Not withstanding the morally reprehensible aspect of this situation, even the budgetary impact of this will felt by everyone. Since emergency care (on an average) costs the taxpayers 37% more than Medicaid does, this situation will have a serious financial impact on every Montanan. Ask anyone in Dillon what happens when thousands of uninsured individuals receive care at the local hospital. We are still waiting to feel the tax impact of this last summer on our next tax bill. Now multiply that by 140,000 people in Montana being effectively denied health insurance by the very legislation meant to correct the issue.

Thirteen states have denied the expanded Medicaid and 11 states have either failed to vote on the issue or have demanded changes to the Medicaid option and those changes haven’t been approved yet. That means that almost half the states in the US are in the same boat we are – with the working poor being seriously thrown under the bus.

Yes, the ACA has REAL issues and until we stop screaming at each other over whether it should be repealed/defunded and start talking about how to fix it, we are all going to see very real financial and moral repercussions. Make no mistake, as Senator Cruz found out yesterday, the ACA is not going anywhere, no matter how many times the Congressional Republicans force repeal votes. It is time to stop talking about what CAN’T be done and start talking about what MUST be done to fix it.

[Note: A previous version of this guest post indicated that people who earn between 133-138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) could buy a plan on the marketplace and qualify for subsidies.  In fact, almost anyone can buy a plan at the marketplace--and pay full price - meanwhile, people who earn between 100-400% FPL will qualify for a price break.  The post has been updated to reflect this and provide a source.  I'm confident that the author will approve of these updates. Even though he and I often disagree, he's proven to be someone who thinks accuracy and details are important.  -Cowgirl]

Schweitzer Takes a Pass on Senate

Brian Schweitzer surprised the state of Montana today when he announced that he would not be running for Senate.  It’s surprising because he was such a heavy favorite.  But it’s unsurprising too, because he has long maligned the US Senate as a do-nothing institution that he wants no part of. Others, too, have observed that the Senate is not a good fit for him.

And so thus concludes, for now, a tremendous political career in Montana, in which Schweitzer moved mounds of earth, changing the political landscape.  He showed conclusively that a Democrat, and not a Republican, can be trusted to get things done.  The record is well known–record budget surpluses, renewable energy development, economic development, protection of public lands, and all the things that the GOP whined about for two decades but never solved.   And, we will miss Schweitzer’s no-bullshit gamesmanship in which he engaged with his opponents and reduced them, usually, to rubble.  I’ve never witnessed a politician who so relishes mixing it up with his opponents. It made for some of the best political theater the state has ever seen. I would imagine that the members of the Montana press, with maybe a few exceptions, are not very happy about the news.  

Also, Schweitzer helped turn the state Republicans into a joke. The Democrats have never been stronger. That’s saying something, especially when you consider that in 2004 the GOP was amid a 23 year imperial rule, and that Montana is very red.

Steve Daines will now run for the Senate. Expect an announcement soon. Whether he will attract serious opposition is an important question.  But he will vacate a House seat, and so we should expect many candidates from both parties to run for that seat, rather than against Daines for Senate.   The GOP House primary should be entertaining.  Look for the usual suspects, like Stapleton, Sonju, Hill, Zinke, Livingstone, Edmunds, Reichner, and probably many more.   On the Democratic side, it could be Juneau, Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List, Lindeen, McCulloch, Wilmer, and so on.

And on it goes.

 

Baucus to Leave Senate; Will Schweitzer Step Up?

by Cowgirl

So Max has answered the question about his future. News broke this morning that he willl not run for relection, and will instead retire at the end of ’14 to his new home in Bozeman.  We wish Max well in his retirement. So ends 40 years of elections and office holding, which began in the 1970s when he literally walked across the western half of the state to campaign for his first job as a house member.  He is probably looking forward to a rest now.

So now the question is, will he or won’t he? Continue reading

Much Ado About Nothing

by Cowgirl

A terrible thing will soon happen in Montana. It is a nightmare: as reported in the Helena IR today, there will soon be a website which will advertise low-cost health insurance plans, affordable to people who cannot presently afford to buy insurance. These plans will be offered by private companies, but listed comprehensively for one-stop easy shopping on the web by the federal government, courtesy of Obamacare.

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