Today the Billings Gazette features a beautiful contrast between the members of the media who prefer to ignore facts and those who respect Montanans enough to print the truth. Ed Kemmick, TEA party/liberty hater, penned the article “City Lights: Learning From the News”. In it, he inadvertently yet efficiently demonstrates to Montanans why exactly we don’t, in fact, learn anything from the news. In Chuck Johnson’s “Horse Sense: Contrary to rhetoric, lawmakers did not raise salaries” Johnson wrote a far more factually accurate account of the Republican “hypocrisy” Democrats, including Kemmick; have alleged.
Fortunately for “journalists” like Kemmick, most Montanans haven’t developed the critical thinking skills required to discern media bias, so I appreciate the Gazette throwing us a bone with this display of Kemmick’s obvious (and typical) partiality. The title, “Learning from the News” is actually hilarious. To those of you who aren’t familiar with the events in the Montana legislature this week, allow me to recap.
- HB1, also known as the “feed bill” passed on a strict partisan vote. All 68 Republicans approved it while all 32 Democrats voted in opposition. This $8.8 million bill pays for the entire legislature- staff, equipment, salaries of the legislators, etc. It is equal to only .24% of Governor Schweitzer‘s proposed budget.
- HB1 is $370,000 less than in 2009.
- Legislators are paid $82.64/working day of Montana’s 90 day biennial session. Their per diem allowance increased by $1.62/day, to $105.31/day (such increase by law is adjusted based on the lowest of three factors). In reality, due to calendar differences, this legislature will actually be paid slightly LESS than the one in 2009.
- New legislators are allowed $1000 for the purchase of a laptop- some argued that they should be forced to use their own. Either way, the allowance is a full third LESS than in 2009.
- Fees for health insurance of all state employees has risen from $626/month in 2009 and $679/month in 2010 to $733/month this year. Legislators, as state employees, are eligible for either health insurance or a subsidy, they cannot be blamed for rising health insurance premiums.
- Democrats have accused the Republicans of “voting themselves a pay raise”, something that is actually impossible according to Section 5, Article 5 of the Montana Constitution (yes, that same Constitution many Democrats believe is among the best in the nation) preventing lawmakers from legislating their pay, whether it be an increase or otherwise.
- Condemning the GOP as hypocritical for their opposition to national health care reform mandates, the left presented acceptance of health benefits as equal to taking a government subsidy, when in fact, this generous benefit is available to all state employees. Shall we consider each Montana government employee a ward of the state? Furthermore, I have a feeling that if Americans were all offered the opportunity to purchase the same health insurance as our state employees instead of being FORCED to buy a product from which US lawmakers exempted themselves, public sentiment would be drastically different.
Regardless, this difference in ideology is not an excuse for blatant dishonesty by our Democrat public officials. For those who aren’t aware of what constitutes a lie, according to Webster’s big red book of definitions, a lie is:
a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive, something intended or serving to convey a false impression, an inaccurate or false statement, a falsehood.
Kendall Van Dyk, Senator from Billings,said tea party-backed Republicans who have trashed government spending need to live by their own rhetoric. He pointed out lawmakers get to keep the laptops even if they lose their next election. ”Before they do any legislative action up here they sign up for a free computer and free health care all on the taxpayer dime,” he said. “Given the economic times where you are talking about a Republican majority that is looking at cutting $360 million, maybe they should back away from the government trough before they start making cuts to education.”
“On one hand they come to town and they want to cut the size of government — does that mean all of government except themselves?” Governor Schweitzer said. “I think if you are running for public office you probably have a personal laptop and that should be good enough.” Governor Schweitzer has also recently accused the Montana legislature of being the “biggest boozers”.