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
It was reported this week that some 3,700 stimulus act contractors owe $750 million in back taxes, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
Area contractors like Helena Sand and Gravel and Swank Enterprises received millions in tax dollars from the recovery act. You have got to wonder how much these companies or, in the case of Helena Sand and Gravel, their forgein parent company CRH The International Building Materials Group owe in back taxes.
Don’t forget republicans legislators protected tax cheats all session and last session tried to give Swank Enterprises a big taxpayer bailout.
SB 94 (Erickson, D-Missoula) sought to limit tax avoidance by multi-national corporations, in order to maintain funding for important public programs and services.
Republicans killed both measures. Montanans will forgo over $40 million in taxes owed by mostly out-of-staters and international PHARMA corporations as schools in Great Falls are laying off teachers.
I hope someone asks GOP legislators why they insisted on protecting the out-of-state multinational corporations from paying the taxes they owe. After all, when out-of-staters evade their tax bills, ordinary Montanans pay higher taxes, and it gives them a competitive advantage over our main street businesses.
Also, word on the street has it that the Montana Contractors Association that held the secret republican caucus meetings all session in order to avoid public scrutiny. Hopefully the GAO will make public the list of the stimulus tax cheats.
In fact, Kriegel was actually featured a while back in an LA Times article about people who wander off and get caught up in cult-like religious movements. An “out of stater” (to use a Republican phrase), Kriegel is from New York and left the east coast on a soul search, came to Montana, and joined up with CUT. Wikipedia says that CUT members worship, among other things,
“esoteric mysticism, the paranormal and alchemy, with a belief in angels, elves, fairies, and other beings it calls elementals” and “Ascended Masters through the Holy Spirit such as Sanat Kumara, Maitreya, Djwal Khul, El Morya, Kuthumi, Paul the Venetian, Serapis Bey, the Master Hilarion, Lanto, Lady Master Nada, Godfre, Lady Master Lotus, and Lanello, Enoch and Elohim.”
Hey, it’s a free country. Worship what pleases you (although, given his association with this weirdness, you gotta love the Bozeman Tea Party, and presumably Kriegel, complaining about a Mosque in New York.)
But even better, CUT was the bunch who believed that the world was going to end of a nuclear holocaust at a particular hour and minute on April 23, 1990. They built a massive underground bomb shelter up near Gardiner, MT and stocked it with several years worth of canned food and dried fruit and other supplies, in preparation for The End. When the dreaded hour approached, they headed down into the bunker to take cover from the Apocalypse. Alas, when the earth and humanity were still around the next day, the church and its leaders lost a lot of credibility, and many congregants became disillusioned and left, and went looking for another fringe sect to be a part of. And in Kriegel’s case, he found it–the Tea Party.
It is unclear whether Kriegel was in the bunker, or whether he is still involved with the church. Or even whether he believes in elves, fairies or the Master Hilarion or Lady Master Nada. (Who the heck is Lady Master Nada, anyway?) There is no mention of his CUT affiliation in any of his biographical material that I can find on the web. Likely it’s not something he is comfortable discussing in public.
But nothing about the Kriegel background really surprises me. The Tea Party is a crackpot enterprise of the first order. All you needed to do was witness the rally in Helena a while back, racists, militia-types, black-helicopter fearing conspiracy theorists, birthers and other idiots. As I recall, Kriegel addressed the crowd and ranted and raved and frothed unintelligibly (as Tea Partiers do) about excessive government, pointing to the Capitol building and complaining about spending and taxes.
Unfortunately the spending part was a little strange because while he was delivering his sermon, the Wall Street Journal, the most conservative paper in America, was churning out an editorial (written, no less, by the ultra-conservative Fox News economist Stephen Moore) praising the State of Montana as being the best fiscally managed state in America.
Even though they love trillion-dollar wars, abolishing all income taxes and the IRS is a favorite mission of the mountain-men and militia-types who seem to constitute about 80% of the Republican party nowadays. There is a central and long-held belief among Republicans, most likely held by Bowen Greenwood and Will Deschamps as well, that the federal income tax is unconstitutional, because supposedly it was not properly ratified by one of the state legislatures back a century ago when it was amended to the Constitution.
Kudos to Schweitzer and the Democrats for cracking down on out of state tax cheats. The Administration announced this week that there is cash to be gotten from national travel companies that have been booking rooms without paying the 7% hotel tax.
Needless to say, Republicans have never supported the Democrats on any efforts to collect taxes from deadbeat corporations who don’t pay what they owe. In fact, the Rs have often tried to put up road blocks to the Revenue Department’s efforts to collect taxes that are due. During several legislative sessions when Democrats and the Adminsitration tried to get important legislation passed to help them in this effort (like this bill, in 2007), Republicans, lead by visionary statesmen such as Scott Sales, Mike Lange and John Sinrud, did everything they could to kill it. It’s really bizarre in fact, that Republicans are so averse to any taxes at all that they believe a person should simply nullify the law by disregarding it. Or, the Rs simply go out of their way to take all the teeth out of the enforcement powers of the MT Department of Revenue.
Funny, because Republicans like Hannity, Beck and company, and no doubt their numerous brown-shirt followers in Montana, delighted in uttering the refrain “Democrats like raising taxes, they just don’t like paying them” during Obama’s transition when it was shown that a few of Obama’s cabinet nominees owed back taxes. Unfortunately, in Montana there can now be uttered a similar slogan: “Republicans believe in cutting taxes, by allowing people to break the law and not pay them.”