Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Not supporting Rehberg

A lot of Montanans like Congressman Denny Rehberg. Here in the Bitterroot there’s even greater support for Rehberg and his bid to unseat incumbent Senator Jon Tester. But how much do folks really know about Rehberg’s votes and values? Does he represent our priorities? Has he kept his pledges and upheld the public trust? Let’s look at some issues important to us Montanans.

We here in Montana love our public lands–to hike, hunt, fish and more. But we all remember in 2005 Rep. Rehberg supported a bill that would’ve sold off 100,000s of acres of public lands to the highest bidders, locking us out.

We like our taxes low and fair, across the income spectrum. But Rehberg voted against the payroll tax cut that helps average Montanans. He repeatedly votes to keep tax loopholes for corporations and fellow millionaires that ship US jobs overseas.

Ridiculously greedy Wall Streeters and their shenanigans helped plunge us into the Great Recession. Wall Street played by one set of rules, while we on Main Street played under another and got sent to the poor farm. Wall Street reform legislation was passed and will help level the playing field. But don’t thank Rehberg, ‘caus he voted “No.”

Higher education opportunities are important to Montanans. Low income students often utilize Pell grants to make college possible. I did. It was invaluable. Yet Rehberg had the audacity to call Pell grants “the welfare of the 21st century.” In Montana 24,000 students are counting on Pell grants next year. Rehberg wants $15 million cut from Pell grant funding to Montana.

Here in Big Sky we treasure our freedom and liberties, including privacy. Yet Rehberg voted for the overreaching Patriot Act, allowing intrusive wiretapping and e-mail/internet surveillance. He voted for the REAL ID, basically a national ID, that Montanans soundly reject. Piggybacking on federal overreach is another land grab Rehberg supports: giving the De partment of Homeland Security unprecedented control of Montana lands within 100 miles of the Canadian border, despoiling pristine wild lands with roads, fences, and patrols, and once again locking us out.

Everyone likes pay raises. And we all respect honesty and integrity. But politicians, especially Congressmen, should be getting more honest work done before getting raises. And when a politician says “I’ll never support, nor take a pay raise. Those are my promises and pledges to you,” we the public expect him to keep his word. Rehberg said just that at a Great Falls debate in 1996, and has since voted to give himself 5 raises–a public trust betrayal.

Do you believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work and performance? I do. So did Rehberg in April 2007 when he celebrated “Equal Pay Day” by writing in Great Falls Tribune, ” I wholeheartedly support equal pay for equal performance.” Yet 4 months later he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He had a second chance, in 2009, to make it right but voted ” No” again. It passed anyways.

Montana has a strong military tradition. We honor our veterans. They deserve our gratitude and the best healthcare. As a proud son of 2 WWII Army veterans, I know how critical the VA healthcare system is. In retirement my mom relied solely on the VA and Social Security. So it’s very personal to me that Rehberg has voted to cut $13 billion from veterans’ healthcare. Not to mention he supported privatizing Social Security. What would my mom have done??

Rehberg heads the powerful subcommittee on health, labor and education. In his proposed spending plan for 2013 he’ll cut family planning and Planned Parenthood, heavily relied upon by low income citizens. He’s joining the “war on women” bandwagon, and women should call him out on it. Even a program with rare bipartisan support like the ‘ Race to the Top” education initiative, which rewards innovation and outcomes in public and charter schools, would be cut under Re hberg’s plan.

Heck, he even sued his hometown of Billings ( actually his corporation did!), costing the city $21,000 to defend itself before ” Rehberg Ranch LLC” dropped the suit against the hardworking firefighters. Imagine!

So what do you think? Does Rep. Rehberg pass your values and priorities litmus test? If you’re part of the struggling low or middle income classes, don’t count on Rehberg to have your back. If you believe in effective, affordable education, then send Rehberg back to school, not to the senate. If you love Montana’s public lands, tell Rehberg to keep his hands off them. If you honor our vets and believe they deserve the best healthcare, then don’t let Rehberg have a say in their care.

Rep. Rehberg, a self-proclaimed rancher who hasn’t sold a cow in years, doesn’t represent Montana values and should not represent Montana citizens any longer.

Van P. Keele

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