By now, you may have heard that Congressman Denny Rehberg, his state director Dustin Frost, Kalispell State Senator Greg Barkus, and two others were in a serious boating accident last night. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the group and we hope for full recoveries for all.
Lee Newspapers ran an interesting story yesterday on cap-and-trade. The IR's online headline read: "Cap-and-Trade Backers Say Montanans Support Bill." This automatically caught my attention, so I scanned the article for any proof. The problem is there is no proof.
But guess what? The Montana Chamber has proof through scientific polling of Montana voters that Montanans do not support cap-and-trade schemes. In our November 2008 poll, more than half of Montanans said they would not pay a penny more in their electric or gasoline bill on meaures aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Too bad Lee Newspapers would not print that poll, but they will print baseless claims by environmental groups and make it a headline.
Also in this article are dubious claims from greenies that cap-and-trade will actually create jobs. Every projection I've seen for Montana shows a net job loss for the state and increased energy costs for the consumer. In addition, the groups say this scheme is in-line with what Governor Schweitzer believes, which is also not true. From what I understand, the Governor is in favor of a carbon tax, not cap-and-trade.
It's a shame these facts don't make it into news stories.
As the President and Congress debate bills and new programs that will add to our record deficits, they should probably read the book described in this video. (You'll have to watch a commercial before you're able to watch the video.)
From what I know about the federal budget, our country not only has a massive federal debt, but projections into the future show that we are over $50 trillion in the red. Revenue projections don't even come close to expenditures for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security etc...
How can anyone reasonably argue that the federal government should put more on its plate?
Yesterday I was in Great Falls for the Mid-Year Economic Outlook presentation we organized with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Senator Baucus was there to hear the presentation and accept an award from the U.S. Chamber for his voting record in 2008. He took the opportunity to briefly speak about the big issue of the year: health care.
Montana's senior senator expressed a bit of frustration with some folks who have decided to follow him around as protesters. He said that many of them continued to yell at him even when he attempted to engage them in conversation. I don't know if these were right or left wingers, but he didn't seem all too impressed either way. He mentioned that he is glad people are engaged in the issue, even if they are protesting.
So far, Baucus' committee (Senate Finance) has not come out with a proposal yet. How do you protest something that doesn't exist yet? In addition, he seems to be one of the only people who is taking a thoughtful, bi-partisan approach to the situation. I know the single-payer folks are mad that he's not serious about that plan, but there weren't too many politicians, including Baucus, that were elected on a platform of nationalized, government health care. Even Obama has said (at least now) that he wouldn't support such a bill. Many of these people are jumping on the public option band wagon, which they see as more of a slower march towards their end goal, and Baucus has said the public option is still on the table.
I also know that many people are very much opposed to more government involvement, bigger deficits and higher taxes. Baucus seems to be taking a lot of these views into account as he crafts a bill that can get support from both sides of the aisle and still get Americans covered.
In short, I'm impressed with his thoughtful, careful approach to this big, big issue. Protesters or not, I'm glad we've got someone right out of Montana who's a big player in this debate.
It's too early to declare victory, but it looks like the GM/Stillwater issue might be heading in the right directionthanks to our Montana elected officials. When GM announced it was breaking its contract with Stillwater Mining (employs 1,300 people with good-paying jobs) and keeping contracts with foreign suppliers after it received billions in taxpayer bailout dollars, our Governor, Congressman and two Senators applied some nice PR pressure to the government-owned car company.
At this point, GM has agreed to start talks again. Like I said - still a long ways out from making this a good situation, but at least things seem to be going in the right direction. Let's keep that pressure on them so people don't think this issue is resolved!
No mention was made in the Billings Gazette today of an event yesterday in the Magic City. The Mid-Year Update of the Economic Outlook series was in Billings and nothing (as far as I know) was in the paper about it today. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research gave a lot of great information about the national and state economies at a time when many Montanans are wondering about their jobs, the recession, and how important Montana industries are doing.
The presentation also included a special section on the local Billings economy. On top of that, 16 Billings area legislators received recognition for their work on business issues during the past legislative session. How can the Gazette completely ignore such an important event? This is probably a good example of why some in the newspaper business are struggling.
If you have a subscription to the Gazette, I would call them and ask why they don't cover these important stories.
As first reported by Paul Chesser and noted by the Flathead Beacon, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer appears to have had a change of heart on the issue of cap and trade. Up until last year, the second-term Governor has seemingly done everything possible to promote cap and trade, and push for its passage. So what's up with that?
We have long opposed such a system because it would cost Montana a lot of good paying jobs, cost Montana consumers more in energy prices, and have little to no effect on the issue of climate change. In March of last year, the Montana Chamber organized a "Climate Change Dialogue," which focused solely on the economics of cap and trade (not whether humans were causing global warming) and there were many lawmakers, business people and industry folks in attendance.
The Governor was not present at the event, but one of his top advisors was there. He commented to the press about how the whole event was like the tobacco companies trying to convince people that smoking wasn't bad for them. In this post, I responded to that allegation by noting that the Governor's position (at the time) was more like that of the tobacco example because proponents of cap and trade were ignoring the economic realities of such a system and the science that says it will have little to no effect.
Now don't get me wrong - if the Governor has switched is position and is now opposing cap and trade, that's a good thing. In fact, we may be able to work together on the issue. It just begs the question of why he was such a strong supporter in the past (enough to liken those who take his current position to the tobacco industry) and why the change?
Senator Jon Tester has spoken out against GM's move to kill American mining jobs and created a webpage for Americans to send comments to GM. His actions follow Representative Rehberg and Governor Schweitzer's condemnation of GM's attempt to withdraw from a palladium and rhodium contract after receiving vast amounts in taxpayer bailout money. Good-paying Montana jobs are at stake, so please take a moment to send your opinion.