Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont., brought his “Liberate Main Street” tour back to Havre Thursday, on a whirlwind tour of the state between debates against the man he is facing in this year’s U. S. Senate race, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
Rehbehg spoke at the Hill County Republican headquarters, campaigning against Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., before heading on to his next stop in Big Sandy.
Rehberg’s bus left Billings the night of the last debate and will make its last stop in Kalispell before the final debate there, with 20 stops in 20 counties.
Rehberg said Thursday that Montanans have two clear paths for the future they can choose in the Nov. 6 election.
“One is the path that Jon Tester and Barack Obama have been taking us down for the last four, six years …, ” he said. “The other path is what you see on the side of our bus … we need to liberate Main Street. ”
He said his idea of where the country should go is with less government.
“You know, you think about America, it’s got an amazing ability to right itself if left alone, if you get government out of its way, ” Rehberg said. “We’ve seen more and more government coming down, that’s the problem. ”
He said one issue is taxes — the nation needs to make permanent tax reductions made in the last decade, not extending them.
“And property taxes, ” Havre resident Charles Grant said. “Get rid of ‘em. ”
“There’s your state representative, ” Rehberg responded. “There’s your person right there. ”
Rehberg started his speech by asking the crowd of about 25 people, “How often does Jon Tester vote with Barack Obama? ”
“Ninety-five percent, ” the audience members chorused back.
“That’s right, ” Rehberg said.
Rehberg said the choice is between smaller government or continuing the policies of the last four years, including the health care reform act.
He said that act was predicted to save an average of $2,500 per family per year on health insurance, but instead the nation has seen an average increase of $2,300 a year.
“That’s almost $5,000 away, ” he said.
He said there is another fact that people need to remember.
“A lot of people don’t remember that Max Baucus, on the Senate floor when he was debating his bill, said we don’t know whether this is going to cost a trillion dollars or 2.5 trillion. Really? Well, why didn’t somebody ask the question, then? ” Rehberg asked “You don’t know what it’s going to cost the American taxpayer or the American public or the American recipient? You don’t know what the ramifications are going to be?
“See, that’s the problem with decisions being made in Washington that want to place the government between us and our health care, ” he added.
Rehberg also talked about the stimulus bill that Congress passed in 2009.
“It was a trillion dollars in borrowed money, ” he said, adding that only 12 cents on every dollar went directly to job creation in shovel-ready projects.
“If I were to go out and buy a stock trailer on my ranch that cost 15,000 dollars, you would expect to make 15,000 back or more … otherwise its a pure expense, ” Rehberg said “It’s not an asset, it’s an expense, and that was the problem. It did not stimulate the economy, and we’re paying the price right now. ”
He said the Obama policies also are hurting the country’s energy situation.
“We haven’t had an energy policy under Barack Obama, nor supported by Jon Tester, we’ve had an environmental policy, ” Rehberg said.
He said an example is an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that led PPL Montana to plan closing its Corette coal-fired electrical generation plant in Billings.
That will cost 35 jobs, $10 million in revenue in the Billings area and, with the expected closure of some 200 plants nationwide, possibly increase utility rates 25 percent, Rehberg said.
He said PPL and other groups including the Montana Chamber of Commerce and Farmers Union asked Tester to oppose the regulations.
“He didn’t listen to Montanans, he listened to Obama, ” Rehberg said.
Sidebar story: Checking the facts: Baucus comment
In a presentation in Havre Thursday, U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said about the health care reform act that “we don’t know whether this is going to cost a trillion dollars or 2.5 trillion.”
Baucus said Dec. 2, 2009, that, depending on whether people used the 10- year period from the enactment of the bill in 2010, before most provisions went into effect, or the 10 year period starting in 2014, when the provisions were fully enacted, the bill would cost $1 trillion or $2.5 trillion, respectively.
“Without getting into how it’s paid for, it’s paid for, therefore it does not add to the deficit,” Baucus went on to say.
In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, dated July 24, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the health care reform act was constitutional, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said his office predicted a bill proposed to repeal the act “would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period.”