House Republicans meet wall of disapproval with massive cuts to health and humans services

by Jay Stevens

Oops.

The House Republicans have sure made a mess.

I touched on this a little in earlier post, commenting on the GOP’s plans to trim $3 billion in funding for the elderly, children, and the mentally ill. But things got worse since.

They’ve trimmed the state Health and Human Services budget to $300. That’s no typo – that’s all the zeroes there are in the budget. The Gazette:

This amendment would wipe out programs serving more than 300,000 Montanans. These include the Children’s Health Insurance Plan; Medicaid, the federal-state health program for poor people; mental health programs and hundreds of others.

The three hundred dollars is, of course, just a symbolic flip of the bird.

Matt Singer:

But the bottom line here is that it is very important for the Republican Party to emphasize their core principles.

Like hating poor people.

I don’t even know how to satirize this any more. It’s like if a Democrat introduced a bill to tax looking at the moon. It’s beyond parody.

jhwygirl:

Montana Republicans disgust me. Absolutely and thoroughly disgust me. If the people that voted these idiots into office don’t or won’t speak up, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to speak to a Republican again with out thinking of a swear word. The basic lack of common respect dished out today by the Republican House was appalling.

Ed Kemmick, who had earlier praised House Republicans for their “gamesmanship”:

But when I mentioned games, I was thinking of chess, or football or baseball, games of skill and maneuver, games in which experience counts for a lot. I don’t know what to say now, when the Republicans appear to be playing Go Fish or T-ball….

But now it’s the Republicans whining because the Democrats refuse to play by the re-written rules. The Democrats were perfectly within their rights—in fact, the Republicans hardly left them any choice—when they simply decided to sit out and let the Republicans try to pull off this farce by themselves.

Political games are defensible only if they are played in pursuit of some worthier goal. If the Republicans even have a goal anymore, except to make themselves look stupid, I don’t know what it is.

Yesterday, the Missoulian chided the House GOP for splitting up the budget:

No one’s talking about budget specifics in Helena. It’s all about the process – one bill or six or eight. The political theatrics likewise divert public attention. Whatever budget emerges, it promises to be the least scrutinized tax-and-spending package in modern history.

The paper calls on Republicans to return to HB 2 and use their “powers of persuasion” in negotiations with the Governor to get reductions in spending.

The Great Falls Tribune on the H&HS cut:

We hope Montanans are comfortable with the idea that one man whose politics are somewhere to the right of the entire Republican Party appears to be dictating much of what passes the state House of Representatives.

We refer to Rick Jore, the affable lawmaker from Ronan who is the Legislature’s sole member of the Constitution Party, a group that probably could hold its annual convention in the back of a van.

The Billings Gazette’s editorial board – who are a day behind the news – were pretty harsh on the House Republicans and their “leader” Scott Sales today because of their creation of two additional budget bills – upping the tally to eight — without any chance for public input or scrutiny.

Tuesday morning, The Gazette editorial board chatted with House Speaker Scott Sales in a telephone conference call that he had requested last week. It was a cordial exchange with Sales describing how the six GOP budget bills would be brought to the house floor in the next two days and that the “six-pack” eventually would be sent to the governor at the same time so he would have a full 10 days to make a decision on signing them.

Imagine the editorial board’s surprise to find that at the time Sales spoke with the board, other GOP House leaders were scrapping one of their six major state spending bills and breaking it into three parts.

“I almost told you, but it wasn’t quite ready for public consumption,” Sales told the editorial writer later Tuesday.

That, or Sales didn’t know about the changes, either.

How can the public participate in this quick-change legislation? Seventy-two-hour notice was posted Tuesday for the Friday hearings, Sales said. That would mean the notice would have to have taken effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, before the bills were introduced. They weren’t all accessible at the legislative Web site as of late Tuesday afternoon.

The editorial chides Sales for not letting folks have their say – people who are “important to the process,” even if they happen to be experts on the issues – and in the end skewers the GOP’s budget:

The governor’s budget certainly can be improved. But it isn’t the reckless spending spree that his critics have said. There’s no “rainy-day fund” in the House GOP plan, although Schweitzer and senators of both parties have proposed saving some of this biennium’s extraordinary surplus for leaner times. The GOP bills set no money aside to pay for future public school building repairs as the governor proposed. Schweitzer’s budget contains millions in one-time-only spending, including financing capital projects with current revenues instead of bonding. Schweitzer’s government funding and tax-cut proposals appear to be sustainable.

Can the GOP House leadership say the same about its larger, permanent tax cuts and smaller government funding? Asked about that on Tuesday, Sales didn’t answer the question.

Me, on March 6:

There’s been some touting of the Republican party’s shift to the right in recent state politics, as if that meant a new and dedicated sense of unity and mission. There’s been some crowing that the Republicans’ response to Schweitzer’s budget was completely unexpected, and surprised overconfident Democrats.

I admit it was hard to predict that House Republicans would choose such a contentious, time-consuming, and ultimately hopeless means to tout their ideology in the legislature. In the end, of course, it will be that ideological stubbornness that sinks the GOP in this budget battle.

To add to Ed’s collection, it looks like the chickens are coming home to hatch before they were counted.

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  1. Steve Wells

    This is truly amazing. I’m not sure why the GOP is self destructing like this, but pass the pop corn.

    Are they tripping?

  2. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!

    It’s about gawdamned TIME the newspapers started printing something! I mean for God’s sake THEY live here too! Jork is crazy, and mikey clange is an inbred egomanicaly bully! The papers have a friggin’ DUTY to print what the Constistupid Party is all about, and what they believe! Their belief system is a combination of all the most evil, vile, base, and un-American rehashed putridness from evey rightwing/nazi/racist/fundamentalist buffonery around. Why not PRINT IT?! Oh sure, they whined a bit in their editorials. Now do their gawdamned JOBS and expose these morons for the good of our state if not for the good of good journalism! It’s about time. Hell, if I have to, I’ll write their history myself on your blog, all eighty pages of it! Anyone can obtain a copy from the Montana Human Rights Network. Why can’t the newspapers??

  3. Ha! This is all a joke, right? No way are Republicans this stupid. Maybe Lange riased the collective IQ of the Democrats when he left.

  4. Yosemite1967

    I know that I’m outnumbered, so I’m jumping into a snake pit, but oh well… Kaaawaaaabungaaa!

    “Constitution Party, a group that probably could hold its annual convention in the back of a van”
    Think again–from a quick look at their website, even their Montana candidates in the last election (22) couldn’t have come anywhere close to fitting in the back of a van, and the candidates are just a small percentage of the total members. They’re the largest third party in Montana and the only one which is automatically ballot qualified.

    The national Constitution Party is also the largest third party in the nation.

    By the way, in the previous election, they had 13 candidates, so they almost doubled them in two years.

    All of this government dole, which Jore is almost single-handedly putting the brakes on, is immoral. As was wisely taught by the founding fathers–it’s uncharitable to be charitable with other people’s money.

    “rightwing”=good thing

    “nazi/racist”=bad thing, but not welcome in Constitution Party

    “fundamentalist”=good thing, if that means returning government to the fundamental principles which made this nation great in the first place

  5. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!

    What priniciples that jork expouses made this country great, dink?

  6. Yosemite1967

    Here’s one that’s most relevant to this post: Don’t take money from people against their will and by force to give to others so that you can feel all charitable inside. If you want to give out of your own pocket, go for it, but don’t force others to. It fits with the golden rule.

  7. Don’t take money from people against their will and by force to give to others so that you can feel all charitable inside.

    Amen.

    That, of course, has no relevance to this topic. Such thinking is way off track when it comes to government spending. Because the legislature is a representative branch, taxation and spending goes according to the will of the general electorate. Thus, if a majority agrees, it’s not taking by force.

    That is, we’re all citizens and have the right to express our opinions and desires through speech and politics. With that freedom comes the responsibility of abiding by the decisions made in the elected assembly. If you don’t like the result, change the government through participation or influence.

    In the meantime, the democratic representative process is hardly “immoral.”

    Essentially it’s the same point I made in a recent creep post.

    To imply that paying taxes is akin to being robbed at gunpoint is useless and misleading hyperbole. If you don’t like the system, move.

  8. mean
    spirited
    sonsa
    bitches
    !

    Should all have to meet the people who will be harmed the most with their policies. The every man for himself winner take all system of economical fantasyland has already proven itself to be inefficient, unjust and unsustainable. Time to try something else.

  9. Yosemite1967

    touchstone,

    “That, of course, has no relevance to this topic.”
    It is at the very root of this topic and has everything to do with it.

    “if a majority agrees, it’s not taking by force”
    Can a majority change something immoral in its nature into something moral? If so, was it OK for Jews to be gassed because a majority of the German people were in favour of it?
    http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/docs/paper1.shtml

    “If you don’t like the result, change the government through participation or influence.”
    What is it that qualifies your words on here as “participation or influence” and disqualifies mine?

    “To imply that paying taxes is akin to being robbed at gunpoint is useless and misleading hyperbole.”
    Oversimplified extremification of what I said. I have nothing against paying taxes. I have something against taxes being used for immoral things. I wonder whether those old ladies in Montana who couldn’t afford their property taxes and were FORCED to move would say that it’s not by force. It IS by force, and, therefore, in my opinion, that force should only be used to pay for only a very few, absolutely necessary things, just as the founders taught.

    “If you don’t like the system, move.”
    Have you never complained on here about any legislation that was passed and thereby became part of the system? If there are parts of the system that you don’t like, why is it OK for you to stay here and “participate or influence”, but when I don’t like something about the system, I’m supposed to move?

  10. Yosemite1967

    grannyinsanity,

    “Should all have to meet the people who will be harmed the most with their policies.”
    My point exactly–like if you had to personally take money from your neighbor to give to another neighbor whom you thought needed it more. If you did it like non-government charities do–by asking politely–you might fair pretty well. But if you did it like the government does it–by placing a lien on your neighbor’s property if he doesn’t give you anything, but still had to live next to your neighbor–you might eventually second-guess whether you had a right to be doing it.

    “The every man for himself winner take all system of economical fantasyland has already proven itself to be inefficient, unjust and unsustainable.”
    A mischaracterization, in my opinion. If you’re referring to the system set up by the founders, it was much more efficient (cost far less, as a percentage of the public’s over-all income), just (didn’t force anyone to be charitable against their will, so people were more charitable over-all when they weren’t forced to be), and sustainable (what made this country the super-power that it is today).

  11. Yosemite1967

    P.S. “sonsa b*tches”
    Who’s mean-spirited?

  12. (a) Comparing giving children health insurance to gassing Jews is the most deplorable way I’ve ever anyone fulfill Godwin’s Law. Congratulations. There must be a Hall of Fame for this kind of thing.

    (b) Your rhetoric was hardly marked an attempt to “persuade,” especially to this blog’s audience. (Rule #1: know your audience!) It was a declaration with no support. (And based on ideology that is hardly common or even acceptible to Americans, jurists, or historians.) Such declarations are usually associated with fiat. Pardon me for thinking you would ignore the will and beliefs of the majority and foist your ideology on us, were you given a chance.

    (c) It didn’t seem like you were interested in our system of government based on the arguments you’ve put forth. I’m fine if you want to participate, but I’m not fine if you want to destroy everything to test your theories. Thus, the “move” comment.

    PS – IMHO, if persons deliberately deny much needed financial and medical support to our neediest and most helpless citizens, they have earned the “sonsa bitches” moniker. You reap what you sow.

    And Granny is hardly mean-spirited. Shame on you for picking on Granny!

  13. Yosemite1967

    (a) “Comparing giving children health insurance to gassing Jews…”
    To turn your nose up and wave off a question, just because a supporting sub-question follows Godwin’s Law, is a cop-out. The main question was: Can a majority change something immoral into something moral? Will you discuss this question with me, or are you afraid to?

    “Your rhetoric…declaration with no support”
    And YOUR support is…?

    “fiat…foist your ideology on us”
    In what way do my words qualify for “foisting” while yours do not?

    “picking on Granny”
    She calls people (including me) “mean-spirited sonsa b*tches”, then all I do is ask “Who’s mean-spirited?”, and you say that I’M picking on HER?
    This and your deleting of my message in the other forum when I was keeping my cool while someone was slamming me with expletives and name-calling (and you didn’t delete any of his) seem to suggest that if you don’t play dirty on this board, you aren’t welcome. Is this what you’re trying to tell me?

  14. Can a majority change something immoral into something moral? Will you discuss this question with me, or are you afraid to?

    I’m terrified! You’re so…so…so…

    whatever.

    Majorities definitely have the ability to oppress. Slavery, Jim Crow, blah blah blah. That’s why we have the Bill of Rights.

    Majorities also have the ability to turn something immoral (say, lack of health care for children) into something moral (say, health care for children).

    In other words, your logic doesn’t follow. Just because a majority can do something that’s bad doesn’t mean it will. Just because a majority prefers something doesn’t mean it’s bad.

    “foist”

    Your rhetoric implied there was no room for debate. It was a mandate.

    “Granny”

    Unless you’re one of the House nutjobs voting to split three hundred bucks among the neediest of Montanans, Granny did not call you a sonsa b*tch. If you are one of the House nutjobs who voted to give the neediest of MTer three hundred bucks, you are a sonsa b*tch, and I don’t think there’s anything mean spirited about pointing that out.

    As far as the deleted message thing goes, I actually delected TWO of LK’s comments to your one. Trust me, I did not discriminate.

  15. Yosemite1967

    “Your rhetoric implied there was no room for debate. It was a mandate.”
    Sounds more like you. For example: “That, of course, has no relevance to this topic.” “If you don’t like the system, move.” There are plenty more of your words to choose from–here and elsewhere. It seems that you’re often claiming that my arguments are invalid for reasons which would invalidate your own.

    “I did not discriminate”
    I’m glad to hear that you didn’t discriminate based on author, but with mine, you also didn’t discriminate based on content, unless “I apologize” is an offensive phrase in some alien culture.

    Main Subject: “immoral (…lack of health care for children)”
    I believe that your comments here demonstrate a one-sided (unbalanced, unfair) morality. Please bear with me on this: By the example that I gave Granny, I was trying to illustrate this one-sided morality. I’ll probably be belabouring this, but I really want to make the point clear.

    Do you believe that you have a right to go to your next-door neighbor and threaten to take his property if he doesn’t donate money to poor children who need healthcare?

    If not, what if you get a majority of your neighbors in that neighborhood to help you? Do you then have a collective right to take his property?

    What if you get the city council to vote in favour of you taking his property? Does that give you the right?

    What if you get the state legislature to vote in favour of you taking his property? Does that give you the right?

    What if you get the legislature to order the sheriff to take his property, so you don’t have to do the dirty work? Does that make it right?

    Please tell me where the logic breaks down. If anywhere, you might want to apply the golden rule and reverse the story. What if your neighbor came and threatened to take YOUR property if you didn’t donate to HIS chosen charity?

  16. See that’s the thing. You don’t like the system.

    Yes, you can get your property confiscated if you don’t pay your taxes. But that’s part of the bargain you enter when you live in our democratic system. There are government programs I don’t like — the Iraq War, for example — but I’m not claiming the system is corrupt because I’m forced to pay those taxes. I work to change the priorities of government spending.

    But the way you frame the issue implies the whole dang thing is immoral.

    What if I changed the words around?

    “Do you believe that you have a right to go to your next-door neighbor and threaten to take his property if he doesn’t pay for bullets you’re going to use to shoot people with?”

    You’re saying the coercive part of taxation is wrong. Are you against all taxes? Do you think the government shouldn’t pay for anything? Should there be a government? Are you an anarchist?

  17. Yosemite1967

    “There are government programs I don’t like…but I’m not claiming the system is corrupt because I’m forced to pay those taxes. I work to change the priorities of government spending.”
    You’re arguing semantics–“corrupt or immoral system”, “messed up priorities”–toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe. We’re both talking about government programs with which we disagree. I don’t agree at all with the Iraq war either (just to show you that you and I don’t disagree on everything), but the subject at hand is that of using government power to force charity.

    “You’re saying the coercive part of taxation is wrong.”
    Nope. I’m saying that it’s only right for certain, limited purposes. Thomas Jefferson said (and I agree), “a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”

    So, according to Thomas Jefferson, one of the most prevalent founders of our country, our current government, which “takes from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned”, is not a good government (corrupt, immoral, messed-up priorities, whatevah).

    Also, according to him (and I agree), one of the few proper uses of government force and/or taxation is to “restrain men from injuring one another”.

    “Are you against all taxes? Do you think the government shouldn’t pay for anything?”
    Didn’t you read what I said to you numerous messages ago? I said, “I have nothing against paying taxes. I have something against taxes being used for immoral things.”

    “Should there be a government?”
    Oh yes!

    “Are you an anarchist?”
    Oh no! Without government, the results are the same as with an all-powerful government. In both, the innocent suffer at the hands of criminals. I argue against anarchy even more vehemently than I do against government-forced charity.

  18. There you go! Now you admit that the system is what’s important, and that we should work through the system to debate taxation priorties!

    As for your Jefferson quote, he also said we should have a revolution every generation so as to keep the government in line with our popular will. I think we’ve done that. If the founding fathers intended for us to keep the ethics and economics of the 18th century, they wouldn’t have left so much room in the Constitution for interpretation, change, or self-definition.

    Certainly there’s nothing in the Constitution that says we can’t spend government money on ensuring children receive medical care.

  19. Yosemite1967

    “Now you admit that the system is what’s important…”
    Funny–you finally realize what I’ve been saying all along (and which you obviously haven’t been reading very carefully), and you act like you’ve gotten some victory or something.

    “he also said we should have a revolution every generation so as to keep the government in line with our popular will”
    You added that “to keep the government in line with our popular will” part. Quoting, instead of paraphrasing and changing, is more honest.

    You keep talking about Democracy like it’s the form of government that the founders intended for us to have, but if you knew anything significant about the founders, you would realize that they abhorred it. Example:

    “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” –Thomas Jefferson

    James Madison teaches about this in the Federalist Papers: “…such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

    Notice the “rights of property” part.

    So, I would contend that when Thomas Jefferson said that each generation needed a revolution, it was more likely that he meant that it was needed to weed out the elements of corrupt democracy and return the government to its proper republican form, and I don’t mean Republican party, because most of them are promoting the same, corrupt democratic form of government derided by the founders.

    In a democracy, a majority could forcefully take the property of the minority and give it to the poor. (It’s uncharitable to be charitable with other people’s money.) In a republic, the government would punish any majority which tried to do such a mean-spirited thing.

  20. matt

    Here’s a thought:
    Subsidising behavior creates more of the same. To borrow your most sacrosanct example, to buy health insurance for children who don’t have it is to ensure that their parents don’t buy it for them. If you have a really good reason why Montana should subsidize the practice of keeping one’s income off the books, you’re free to present it.

    Rather than questioning the present social services system, you assume that cutting the budget will make the situations in question worse. That, my friend, is indicative of a major blindspot. The health and human services model in this country is broken, the only thing it accomplishes with 100% effectiveness is employment for a class of people who would be of very limited use elsewhere.

    Has the War on Poverty been working great all these years? Did I miss something?

  21. I love that people say, “If the government doesn’t make people charitable,they won’t be”.

    All I hear is, “If the government doesn’t MAKE me be charitable, I wont be.”

    Bravo to Rick Jore for cutting 3 billion.




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