Steve Daines

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Tester seeks input on Obamacare

Jon Tester

Has the Affordable Care Act made your life better? If so, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., wants to know. Tester has set up a website to gather input from Montanans about what the ACA, better known as Obamacare, has done for them. The goal is to thwart plans by Republicans to repeal the law once Donald Trump takes office as president. “I know our healthcare system isn’t perfect,” Tester said in a news release. Continue Reading →

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Zinke’s mixed, or mixed up, record on environment


To say that Ryan Zinke has a mixed record on the environment may sound like saying that pouring a shot of tequila into a gallon of orange juice makes a mixed drink. U.S. Rep. Zinke, R-Mont., is the apparent nominee to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. His confused record on public lands, climate change and America’s energy future is drawing predictable outcries, but he may turn out to be the most environmentally sensitive member of President Trump’s cabinet. True, that’s in part because Trump is filling top jobs with people who tread around the environment like a fresh cow patty. The secretary of state nominee has spent his career with a company that funded climate skepticism. Continue Reading →

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Opinion: ‘Entitlement’ critics, please meet Jane Doe

Consider the case of Jane Doe.

Politicians, pundits and other smart alecks make me peevish whenever they bloviate about “entitlements.”

And more annoyance is just around the corner as campaign noise gives way to policy debate. How the entitlements arguments proceed is an open question. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives and anti-entitlements smart-aleck-in-chief, favors reductions; President-elect Trump has been coy. (more…) Continue Reading →

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TPM: Zinke serving in ‘Snow Job Caucus’

Ryan Zinke

U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., has been placed in the “Snow Job Caucus” by Talking Points Memo. The caucus, according to TPM, consists of members of Congress who have used “Word Salad to Avoid Giving a Position” on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with some sort of private insurance and voucher system. Zinke “told a TPM reader that there was no plan to phase out Medicare, therefore he does not support a plan to phase out Medicare,” the liberal web site reported. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was placed on the “We’ll Get Back to You:” list of those “whose offices were caught unaware, or claimed they would pass on constituents’ concerns.”

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., was listed as opposing the Medicare changes. TPM disputed Zinke’s claim that there is no plan to replace Medicare: “What Zinke’s office says isn’t true. Continue Reading →

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Red state mysteries: Bud Light, Donald Trump


They got their country back. And they are welcome to it. Colleagues in academia were commiserating last week after Donald Trump’s stunning presidential win. A couple of them stopped by my office for long talks as the results sank in. One wondered how she would explain to her kids that bullying and sexual predation are not OK, no matter what the president says. Continue Reading →

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Marsy’s Law makes hash of constitution


When a ballot initiative’s chief talking point is wrong in two different ways, it’s time to give it a closer look. Such were my thoughts when I started hearing radio ads for Constitutional Initiative 116, the so-called Marsy’s Law amendment to the Montana Constitution. The ads say it’s time to guarantee “equal rights for victims.”

Wrong. And wrong. People who create crime victims fall into two categories: those who have been convicted of a crime and those who have not. Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Salvaged ‘justice’ act will have bad consequences


On Wednesday, the U.S. Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of the so-called “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” (JASTA). The act permits 9/11 families to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for any role that it might have played in the tragedy. Sadly, Montana Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Rep. Ryan Zinke supported the override. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Obamacare update: the good, bad and ugly

steve daines

I got a “Dear David” email from U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., on Friday that began, “I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news … .”

Actually, it sounded like he was delighted to be the bearer of bad news. Proposed healthcare premiums under Obamacare are soaring next year, the email said, proving once again that “Obamacare is failing Montanans,” and allowing him to echo what has been a Republican mantra ever since the bill passed. Unfortunately, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., wasn’t much more helpful. In a statement on Friday, he said, “It is outrageous that a major corporation is trying to raise insurance rates on Montanans as they hand out lavish bonuses to their executives.”

Neither senator wastes the precious time of his constituents by delving into the actual facts. A quick check of the website of the state insurance commissioner, Monica Lindeen, bore out the bad news. Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Five years later, thoughts on an oil spill


Early in the morning on July 2, 2011, I walked down the gravel road on our farm to let the goats out to graze for the day. I found the Yellowstone River flowing through our hay fields and summer pasture and, along with the water, an oily rainbow sheen and large clumps of crude oil sticking to trees, cattails and brush. It was in our sloughs, our pond and Blue Creek. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Constitutional usurper Reagan thwarted again

steve daines

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was predictably (the man is nothing if not predictable) pleased by the U.S. Supreme Court’s indecision on Thursday in a case challenging the Obama administration’s immigration policy. “Too many times during his tenure in office, President Obama has skirted Congress and the will of the American people by using executive action to get his way,” Daines said in a news release. He added, “The American people, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court must all continue to push back against the President’s unlawful and overreaching use of executive power and protect the Constitution.”

Now, if you are like me, you haven’t followed this case closely. Apparently, neither has Daines, who has been too busy helping make sure Congress doesn’t get its work done. When the lawsuit was first filed, I read and heard a number of legal scholars, including some with excellent conservative credentials, argue that the case would go nowhere. Continue Reading →

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