This week, more information continues to come to light about the extreme measures hard-right Montana lawmakers are going through to make sure the will of the public never sees the light of day. If you haven’t read the latest shenanigans uncovered by MT Streetfighter, you should, because “Either TEA Partiers Have Started Teleporting, or There’s Something Very Fishy Going on at the Capitol.”
But it doesn’t end there. Last week, lawmakers engaged in a series of orientations last week to learn about the issues that might come before them in their various committees.
But something different happened in the House Human Services Committee Thursday, when Chair Rep. Art Wittich (R-TEA Bozeman), put indoctrination on the agenda instead. He brought in two TEA Party opponents of Medicaid expansion from out of state instead.
TEA Party Appointees Brought in to Denigrate Programs to Help Working Poor Montanans
The first presentation Wittich scheduled was from a political appointee of Maine’s TEA Party Governor Paul LePage, one of the nation’s most prominent appointees of Medicaid expansion.
Rather than expand Medicaid, as most states are doing, Maine actually tried to bar people from the health care coverage who were already eligible. The AP reported this week that LePage spent tens of thousand in taxpayer funds on private lawyers in a failed attempt to remove thousands of low-income young adults from the state’s Medicaid program-against federal law with federal law–after being told by Maine’s attorney general that her office wouldn’t take the legal fight because he couldn’t win the case.
The LaPage appointee’s primary accomplishment appears to be that Maine’s Medicaid program had paid its backlog of debt it owed to hospitals (Maine did not say it had paid all its debts.) Montana’s Medicaid program is not in debt. The appointee’s goal seemed to be to convey that federal money to help the working poor is bad (but not presumably federal money for defense contracts and highway funding).Wittich and the TEA Party wing of the GOP has come out in favor of a nonsensical “plan” to refusing federal funding that would pay for most of the Medicaid expansion. Rather than bringing home the federal tax dollars that Montana has already paid, they are actually proposing that we throw that money to the wind, and spend additional state money for health care. This is one of the worst ideas ever to come out of the state GOP in a long time.
Next on the indoctrination agenda was a representative of a right-wing, Koch brothers funded “think tank” called the Foundation for Government Accountability. No joke. This group’s primary goal is fighting Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act. The group’s director, Tarren Bragdon, is a former state representative with ties to the Koch brothers.
Rule Banning Information Testimony Debated
This committee even discussed whether it would bar informational witnesses, who do not support or oppose legislation but simply help inform the discussion, from stating anything other than their name and area of expertise unless called upon. Apparently, the only information Wittich wants this committee to hear is approved TEA Party dogma. Democrats on the committee objected to this move, forcing Wittich to back off of an official rule banning informational testimony–for now.