Havre City Council chair Andrew Brekke stands with Rep. Denny Rehberg and his wife Jan.
Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., was in Havre Thursday calling for a change in leadership to “Liberate Main Street. ”
Rehberg, who is challenging first-term U. S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., in this year’s Senate election, said he wants to provide an alternative to what he called “the failed policies of the last four years. ”
Rehberg said the press gave a lot of coverage to the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and he believes people missed the point.
“And we wanted to talk about liberating Main Street, because really the problem that we have in this country right now is the level of regulations that are occurring on small business and the level of taxation and the uncertainty, ” he said.
Rehberg brought his Liberate Main Street campaign, which he kicked off in November 2011, to Chinook and Havre Thursday, with about 40 people attending his rally at Bear Paw Livestock before coming to Havre.
Not only Rehberg supporters came to his Havre rally, in front of Scott and Kaye Young’s business, Norman’s Ranch and Sportswear. A group of protesters held up half-a-dozen signs calling on him to oppose the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, in which the court said the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution guarantees all groups, including corporations and independent groups like some super PACs, a voice in political campaigns.
He said he decided to run for the Senate because he wanted to provide the voters of Montana an alternative. And that race could change the direction of the country, he said, noting that the major Senate battlegrounds this year are in Missouri Nebraska, North Dakota — and Montana.
“You’re at ground zero right now, ” Rehberg said. “You’re in the place where you could make the difference. You have the opportunity to help us change the majority in the U. S. Senate, head off in a different direction, one that clearly understands the way we’re going to solve this problem in America is liberate Main Street, get off the backs of small businesses. ”
Rehberg said the policies of President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in the U. S. Senate, including what he called a failed stimulus package and health care reform that doesn’t reform health care, have led to a doubling of the U. S. debt in the last four years.
When the Democrats took over the leadership of the House and Senate in January 2007, the nation’s debt was about $8 trillion, Rehberg said, which was “high but manageable. ”
Since then, including during the “Great Recession” that started in 2007, the debt has doubled and is nearly $16 trillion, Rehberg said, adding that that spending and the debt has to be reduced.
“It will be a death spiral for this country, ” Rehberg said. “We cannot continue down the same path. ”
He said taxation and regulations — he cited the U. S. Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency — are creating uncertainty and burdens on small businesses that is stifling them and stifling the economic recovery.
“As Scott and Kaye could tell from their own experiences, I am sure that you don’t know necessarily what the tax bite is going to be come January One of next year, ” Rehberg said. “You don’t really know what regulations are being considered within the administration right now and so, ultimately, what we want to talk about is the failed policies of the last four years. ”
He said Obama’s stimulus package was a failure, with most people not seeing any money for new jobs and the administration “picking winners and losers”
“We think that, if you want to stimulate the economy, you have to do it through a consistent tax structure so you know exactly where you’re going to be from year to year to year, not having them expire at the end of this year then have a determination or have the spending continue like it didn’t matter, ” Rehberg said.
Rehberg voted for a bill in the House before it went into August recess that would extend the 2001 and 2003 tax breaks of President George W. Bush, including all income earners.
Obama, and Tester, support extending tax breaks for the majority of taxpayers, but letting the breaks for the top 2 percent of U. S. wage earners expire. If that proposal, already passed by the Senate, goes into effect the income higher than $200,000 for single taxpayers and higher than $250,000 for couples would be taxed at higher rates.
The top rates on those earnings rise from 33 percent and 35 percent today to 36 percent and 39.6 percent in January.
That increase would affect 2.5 million households nationwide, or 2 percent of all 140.5 million tax returns, according to 2009 Internal Revenue Service statistics.
Rehberg said that, with the tax break expirations and sequestration about to hit and the majority of the requirements of the health care reform about to go into effect in 2014, something has to be done quickly.
“Ultimately, it’s all coming together, ” he said. “It’s the perfect storm at the end of this year. ”
He added that the idea of the Republican party is to “get government to get out of small businesses’ way, allow us do what we do best, and that’s commerce. …
“Hopefully, we can make a fundamental change in the direction this country has taken, ” Rehberg said.