By Ron VandenBoom
Montana's lone representative in Congress, Dennis Rehberg,
sang to a choir of several hundred fellow Republicans Sunday
at the annual Hill County Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner.
Rehberg, after thanking the members for their support in
the November election, expounded on his love of what he
called, "the Republican philosophy."
"If you want your mother to take care of you, that's
materialism," Rehberg said. "If you want your father to take
care of you, that's paternalism. If you want the government
to take care of you, that's socialism. But if you want to
take care of yourself, that's Americanism."
He added that Americanism also includes taking care of the
most vulnerable within our society, our children and the
"That's why I'm excited about George Bush," he said. "I
honestly believe that he's willing to talk about the
problems and come up with real solutions."
Rehberg compared the personality of President Bush with
that of former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot saying that Bush
has the type of personality necessary to pull people
together. He predicted a long string of Republican
presidential victories and Congressional victories will
First and foremost among Congressional victories may be the
$1.6 Billion Bush tax cut plan a measure hotly debated
even before the November election and one Rehberg said he
supports. He also encouraged the crowd to give the new
president a chance to determine what the country needs and
how best to best go about achieving it.
"Let's not throw cold water on the concept before he has
even presented his budget," Rehberg said.
Rehberg told the Republicans he supports a repeal of the
marriage penalty tax and the death tax.
"They get us on capital gains, they get us on income, and
now they want to get us when we're in the ground," he said.
"It just doesn't make sense."
Rehberg told the crowd that normally a new freshman
congressman would be assigned to two committees and four
subcommittees. But because he is Montana's only Congressman
and represents the largest and most populated congressional
district in the nation, he asked for and received additional
Rehberg first asked for and received an assignment to the
Agriculture Committee because, as he describes it, "they are
one of the most vulnerable industries."
He elaborated on agriculture's importance telling the crowd
"if you think we've got defense problems because of our
foreign dependency on oil, you wait until our agriculture
community is decimated, no longer exists, and we're
dependent on foreign sources for food."
Rehberg also received an assignment to the Transportation
Committee where he sits on the aviation and highways
subcommittees a factor that could be important when
considering funding for the proposed expansion of Highway 2
to four lanes.
A seat on the Foreign Trade Committee was also assigned to
Rehberg. The committee is important, Rehberg said, because
Montana's farmers don't create anything unique.
"So we have to do everything we can to get it out into the
international market and compete," he said.
Rehberg said he was given a waiver to sit on the Water and
Environment Committee which places him on the natural
resources and energy subcommittees. This committee, he said,
will deal with the upcoming energy crisis.
"We never talk about the energy debt," he said. "The energy
debt is the problem that is going to be created when we
can't punch one more well, dig one more shovel full of coal,
and we don't like nuclear... We're going to look up and say,
What's going to power our country?'"
Rehberg told the crowd he advocates taking the money used
to purchase more federal land and putting it into technology
and research and the intellect of the country to find the
next generation of energy power.
Rehberg concluded his remarks telling the Republicans, "we
can build a more secure future for the people of Am