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
A fascinating, huge searchable trove of data was released this week by the Washington Post. It ranks Congressmen according to their personal wealth, and reveals many interesting details about how our lawmakers earn, and invest, their money. I encourage everybody to spend a few minutes horsing around with the database. Very interesting.
Among other things, it says that Denny Rehberg was personally worth $31 million just a few years ago. But on the eve of his announcement that he would run against Jon Tester (the only working man in the United States Senate), Rehberg’s net worth suddenly plummeted to only $5 million. Perhaps this was accounting artifice, to make Rehberg look more like the common man.
In the alternative, I wonder whether there isn’t a legitimate question to raised by this data regarding Rehberg’s business acumen. If a person invests money and land for a living, and sees the value of those assets drop by 83% in the course of a year or two, how can this person possibly claim to be qualified for high office? Mind you, Rehberg lives in the right-wingosphere where a belief prevails that Mitt Romney would be a better president than Barack Obama because he “understands business.” Meaning, in Romney’s case, that he was talented at investing capital for a profit.
How, then, does Rehberg rate himself on this metric?
Last year, the Flathead Memo caught Congressman Rehberg walking unashamedly behind a fire truck in Kalispell’s 2011 Independence Day parade. The gesture was somewhat hollow because, at the same time, he was suing the Billings firefighters who risked their lives to save his scrub brush last year. Rehberg decided to drop the lawsuit only when he realized it was tanking his campaign.
Since that time, things have only gone downhill. This year, the Flathead GOP has simply taped a picture of Rehberg directly to the firetruck.
Talking Points Memo wrote this week about the poor judgement of Congressman Rehberg, who joked publicly about a drunken boating accident. It’s a bizarre thing to do after Rehberg’s alcohol-related boating incident on Flathead Lake, when neither Rehberg nor any of his staff bothered to designate a sober driver. The accident sent the Congressman and three others to the hospital and put one of his staffers in a coma.
“Back in my days, [women] used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives; the gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
Now, this gem of humanity has announced his intent to spend big bucks to support Dennis Rehberg.
The latest (subscription only) edition of The New Republic profiles Friess, an “eccentric Republican billionaire,” and his support for Rick Santorum. Very notably, Friess said Denny Rehberg is one of his favorite candidates. The Montana Lowdown has more.
It’s easy to understand why a Santorum sugar daddy would be backing Rehberg, too. The two have much in common.
Santorum is the Republican Presidential Candidate that said rape victims should suck it up and accept “the gift” God has given to you.” Here’s Rick Santorum on rape:
I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.
Rehberg is the TEA Party Congressman who cosponsored and voted for H.R.358, the “Let Women Die” bill. Shockingly, H.R.358 would force doctors to let women die rather than provide abortion care. Rehberg also tried more than once last year to completely eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.
Justices Want Supreme Court to Hear Montana Challenge to Citizens United
The Washington Postis reporting that two justices are suggesting that the Supreme Court reconsider the Citizens United decision. Justice Ginsberg wrote:
“Montana’s experience, and experience elsewhere since this court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,’ ”
Of course, the article points out that the Supreme Court will not necessarily hear Montana’s case. Even if it does, recall that Alito and Roberts were installed by Bush to ensure that corporations take firmer control of this country. Montana’s is the first challenge to Citizens United.
Anti-Women Congressmen Become (Even More) of a National Joke
This weekend former Saturday Night Live cast member Amy Poehler made a guest appearance on Weekend Update with Seth Meyers for a new segment of “Really!?! With Seth and Amy.” The comedians took on the current war on women raging in Congress, starting with last week’s one-sided congressional committee on birth control that included no women. Here’s the clip:
Rehberg Stunt Backfires
After the fit Rehberg threw over out of state money, it was revealed this weekend that he had actually taken a higher percentage of it. To be sure, Rehberg has had trouble raising money overall. People are now starting to pay closer attention to the election. And, it seems the more one knows about Congressman Dennis Rehberg, the less one wants to support his re-election campaign. The Tester campaign’s fundraising advantage is certainly due, in part, to national interest in keeping the Senate from further degrading into the circus that the TEA Party Republican-controlled U.S. House has become.
Denny Rehberg, who is trailing in some polls and has been unable to raise even half as much money as Jon Tester, has now resorted to hugging Brian Schweitzer in an effort to get some traction with persuadable voters.
“Governor Brian Schweitzer did a great job negotiating that on-ramp,”
Rehberg says, referring to efforts by Schweitzer to ensure that the pipeline, if built, will allow Montana oil producers to put their oil onto the pipeline for delivery to refineries.
This is not the first time Rehberg has singled out Schweitzer for some kudos. What’s delicious about this irony is the fact that once upon a time, Rehberg‘s goons made it their main focus to go after Schweitzer, guns ablazing. But after a few years of the negative tactics, Schweitzer received a 66% re-election margin and so the GOP gave up on the futile assasination attempts. Now, Schweitzer is their pal.
The wealth of members of Congress has increased dramatically since Congressman Dennis Rehberg been in Congress, while the wealth of the average family has declined. This puts them more out-of-touch than ever with what the average American is going through, the Washington Post reports. Congressman Rehberg has consistently been rated one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Jon Tester is a farmer and former music teacher. As any Montanan can tell you, neither of those professions is high-paying.
The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.
Over the last 15 years, the average net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, the Washington Post reports, while the wealth of the average American family has declined. The average Congressional wealth increased from $280,000 to $725,000. But Congressman Rehberg’s wealth blows these numbers out of the water. He averaged $30 million a year until he started campaigning for the U.S. Senate, when he appeared to be attempting to write down much of his wealth. Meanwhile, the the average American’s wealth declined slightly from $20,600 to $20,500.
The result: most members of Congress are more out of touch with what average people are going through. The Washington Post also reports that the income disparity gap is correlated with increased polarization of Congress, leading to gridlock, infighting, etc. This certainly holds true in Rehberg’s case. He’s been at the center of the deadlock since the budget debates intensified last year.
The NY Times also reported on the income divide between Congress and the rest of us–it’s even greater for TEA Party members of Congress:
“rarely has the divide appeared so wide, or the public contrast so stark, between lawmakers and those they represent.
The freshman class of 106 members elected last year, including many Tea Party-backed Republicans, had a median net worth of $864,000 — an inflation-adjusted increase of 26 percent from the 2004 freshmen.”
The editorial assigns particular culpability to TEA Party Rehblicans like Rehberg who, along with his fellow foamers, are blocking the bipartisan compromise to extend the tax cut. This after 39 Repubs in the Senate joined the Dems in passing the tax cut in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 89-10 vote. After all, the proposal contained plenty of Republican provisions–like a pay increase for doctors. But because Rehberg and his Tea Party crew knew the bipartisan compromise would gather enough support to pass the House, they used some archaic Congressional rules kill the bill without taking a simple up or down vote. Their ranting and temper tantrums resulted in Rehberg and friends forcing a $1,000 tax hike on the average Montana family beginning January 1st, according to the DSCC.