By Ron VandenBoom
Dennis Rehberg, former lieutenant governor and Republican candidate for Congress, stopped in Havre Friday to address about 20 supporters during an early morning campaign breakfast.
"I feel something is wrong with the family structure today," Rehberg said. "Families are stressed and struggling."
Rehberg, who has labeled his campaign one of family values and common sense, told the crowd that people can't spend as much time with their families today as they once did and many, because of Montana's faltering economy, have to work two jobs to make ends meet, sacrificing the family.
Rehberg said he believes family values are a primary concern to many Montanans and government is out of touch with what they feel is important.
"People don't want all the government they are being given," Rehberg said. He added that the marriage penalty is a good example of how out of touch the government is with the family.
He questioned why eliminating the marriage penalty has to be such a struggle with Congress when there seems to be so much agreement over the issue.
"It's just common sense," he said. "There has to be something wrong with a government that has lost this much touch with the people."
Rehberg said the end result has been a general lack of trust in government.
He pointed to the Veterans Administration as an example of the ineptitude of government explaining that he has spoke to veterans in Miles City that had taken a bus all the way to Fort Harrison in Helena only to find they had lost their appointment.
Rehberg noted that he is also concerned about "the trust factor" as it relates to Social Security.
Stating that this is "a promise that must be fulfilled," Rehberg emphasized that many people are concerned that when they reach retirement age Social Security will not be available to them.
"It's typical of the lack of trust people have in their government," he said.
Rehberg was asked why, in a state with such abundant natural resources, Montana should rank 47 in per capita income.
"Because we have no infrastructure," Rehberg answered. "We have destroyed our own industries."
Rehberg blamed government regulation and taxes for the destruction of this source of income.
He reminded the audience of the 1973 Windfall Profits Tax imposed against oil companies after the Arab oil embargo.
"It destroyed the oil industry in this country," Rehberg said. "(And) people wonder today why we are still dependent on foreign oil."
Rehberg also attacked the current administration's policy regarding the military and the use of the armed forces.
"The military needs to be used for its intended purpose," Rehberg said.
Rehberg said he had interviewed service men in Great Falls whose most common complaint was that too much time was required of them overseas in places where they were used more as social workers than what they were trained to do. He added that two-thirds of a soldier's tour is spent overseas and away from their family today.
Rehberg advocated a new look at the nation's military forces and new priorities be given to international obligations.
Rehberg also advocated a new look at America's foreign trade policy and at the role agriculture plays in that policy.
Claiming that there is little that can be done about the supply of wheat produced in the U.S., he said. the solution is to look at the demand side of the issue and do what we can to increase markets internationally.
He said the Conservation Reserve Program as a mistake that hurts our communities and our retailers, but admitted he does not know at this point how we can get out of it.