The Montana Standard publishes letters from readers in the Opinion section. Here are this week's letters.
To submit a letter to the editor, go here.
I had occasion to read David Dunn’s disingenuous guest column (Dec. 31). He misrepresents the Affordable Care Act, stating “Obamacare imploded prices and punished the individual paying for private health insurance.” In reality, the ACA’s troubles are directly due to Republicans working to destroy it.
The ACA, when enacted, set up "risk corridors" to help insurance companies with too many new sick people cover medical bills. The Republicans undermined this key financing mechanism by limiting Health and Human Services’ ability to protect insurance companies from financial losses, resulting in a sabotage of the ACA. The government was limited to paying only 13 percent of what insurance companies relied on to cope with the risks they assumed by participating in the insurance marketplaces. The result: the increased premiums Republicans claim in alleging the failure of the ACA.
Dunn’s ill-thought-out solution is “more free-market solutions for people who can pay on-demand in cash and/or through health savings accounts.” What he proposes is plans that do not protect people with pre-existing conditions and that people establish “personal tax-free health savings accounts administered by you, the individual.” This is all fine except it leaves countless millions, who live paycheck to paycheck, out in the cold.
Terry Hanson, Miles City
Two Democratic senators have raised the ugly specter of anti-Catholic bigotry regarding the nomination of a Nebraska lawyer named Brian Buescher to the position of Federal District Court Judge in his home state.
I’ve researched Mr. Buescher’s background, and he appears to be a sound candidate for the position: honors graduate from the University of Nebraska, law degree from Georgetown University, a top tier law school, partner in a prominent Nebraska law firm, chairman of both the Agricultural and Environmental Committees of the Nebraska Bar Association, and a local state prosecutor. He is also endorsed by Nebraska’s Governor and both Senators.
Unfortunately, for two Democratic members of the Senate, he is also a member of an “extremist group” that goes by the name of the “Knights of Columbus,” which opposes abortion and supported Proposition 8, the successful California referendum that declared that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
That proposition was ultimately overturned by the federal courts, but 52% of California voters were in favor of the “extremist” position, as were the two Democratic candidates for President that year, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The two senators in question are Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kamala Harris of California, both potential candidates for president in 2020, who have declared that Mr. Buescher should not be confirmed so long as he remains a member of the Knights of Columbus. Of course, this is just a smokescreen for the actual agenda—that no practicing Catholic should be appointed to any federal court regardless of whether he or she can put aside personal beliefs and still decide cases on the basis of judicial precedent.
Article VI, section 3 of our Constitution declares that: “no religious test shall ever be required to any office or public trust under the United States.”
As one who served as a federal appointee subject to Senate confirmation from 2002–2012, I strongly condemn these Senators’ blatantly unconstitutional attempts to inject religion into the Senate’s advise and consent function.\
Michael Duffy, Butte
(Duffy is a former Commissioner and Chairman of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.)
To the good people of Montana, thank you for rejecting the tobacco tax increase. I got up this morning and had a cigarette, then a bowl of gluten and another cigarette. To the smug, money-grubbing social engineers out there: Guess what? That is none of your business.
Gov. Bullock seems unwilling to let it go. Apparently, when it comes to smokers, he is a hater, and anxious to discriminate against us. If he succeeds, the question becomes: Who is next? Alcohol is the obvious target, but like tobacco, the tax on alcohol is already pretty high.
Possibly obesity is next on the list. All the reasoning behind the tobacco tax applies. Being obese has at least as many potential health consequences as smokers have. Application of a fat tax could be cheap, targeted and easy. A camera connected to a computer could calculate a customer’s BMI and add $2 tax to every happy meal for the overweight customer. Is this really how things are done in America?
Maybe, if there is an unfulfilled need, government could make the case in the public arena. Maybe government could determine how much money is required and come up with a tax plan to it that is fair and non-discriminatory. Then, just maybe, if it is something the people want, our representatives could vote on it and pass it or not. Maybe government could even eliminate something else that does not work well or is redundant and use that money for the new need.
Richard Roberts, Helena
Let people speak
The Glacier County Central Committee’s preference was to stay out of this dispute in the Montana House of Representatives. Yet the far-right faction has it appearing everywhere…Facebook, papers, emails, etc. It needs to be answered.
Super-majority requirements, expectations and pressures in legislative bodies are killing our nation’s ability to serve its people. It is time to rid our nation and state of this political practice.
Representative Butcher and crowd would have you believe that there is a group designated as the “Democrat Wing” of the Republican Party who will ruin the legislative works and the Republicans would lose power. He infers they are pouting over positions lost. This cannot be true. These 14 or so sensible Republican people represent their constituents as expected. I have worked with many of these hard-working people belittled by Rep. Butcher and never found them to be petty or power-hungry.
Republican Central Committees work hard to get representatives elected who will represent the approximately 10,000 people living within that district. Each district has issues. The rural communities are stymied by the “ruling power” of the largely populated areas. Rural needs are different, yet as important as the urban. Using the “super-majority” rule further obstructs the voice of the constituent.
The fear of losing power has overcome sensibility. The “super-majority” rules came into play during a different era of politics…much less polarized than now. Get rid of rules that prevent simple majority rule which includes intense discussion and brings about bills created to fit the needs of the state. With a super-majority rule, bills are controlled by the few who are in power, and they dictate what will happen in our legislative sessions.
Let the people speak!
Liane Johnson, Former Chair of the Montana Republican Party, Glacier County Central Committee Chair