It is possible that by the time you read this article, a compromise could be reached in Washington to raise the debt limit. For now, however, the impasse continues. Here is a sample of what Montana’s elected delegation has said about the crises:
Senator Jon Tester:
“The Senate version has some 2.4 trillion dollars in cuts. It has no increased taxes in it whatsoever. It addresses the debt situation for more of long term basis and gives better certainty for business” (link).
Unfortunately, Senator Tester’s support of the Senate plan with this quote makes little logical sense when compared to the House bill, which he, along with other Senate Democrats, voted against. The Senate bill makes $2.4 trillion in cuts, yes, but it increases the debt limit by $2.7 trillion, meaning Congress can still spend more than it plans to cut. The House plan would not have increased taxes either, but it did include a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution—a real long-term solution. Senator Tester’s definition of “long-term,” however, appears to be “just long enough to get us through the 2012 elections.” Never mind the fact that he also campaigned on the idea of balanced budgets in 2006. Words vs. Actions; Candidate Farmer Jon vs. Reality Senator Tester.
Congressman Denny Rehberg:
“Finally the Senate has proposed a plan and put it down on paper. That’s a huge step, and while it’s certainly not the plan I would prefer, at least now we can sit down and try to find some common ground to bring this crisis to a responsible end” (link).
Congressman Rehberg’s quote is admittedly a lot of vague, political speech, but hey, the House already passed a plan, and it included a balanced budget amendment, something Denny has been a lead supporter of for months now.
Senator Max Baucus:
“Montanans want certainty, predictability, and jobs—and they can’t afford to constantly have to worry about how political fights in Washington are going to affect their payroll, mortgages, and Social Security. We’ve got to cut spending, balance the budget, and show the world that America is still a great investment. And the only we can do that is with a long-term compromise” (link).
Cut spending, balance the budget, long term compromise. The House plan would have ultimately accomplished these goals; the Senate plan, as I explained above, would not. As far as political fights are concerned, how is raising the debt limit just enough to get through the next election cycle not simply playing political games? Unfortunately, as many of us in the Treasure State already know, Max Washington Baucus, Dc. has been in the Capitol way too long to understand such basic, Montana logic.
Governor Brian Schweitzer
“Governor Brian Schweitzer says Montana has enough cash in the bank to withstand a temporary delay in federal funding if the debt-ceiling showdown in Congress leads to a government default…Some states are taking precautionary measures to protect themselves against a temporary delay in federal funding of education and health care, but Schweitzer says he doesn’t anticipate a prolonged stalemate and Montana isn’t making any additional preparations,” wrote Lindsay Clein of KBZK.
According to the Governor, Montana has enough money on hand to stay in the black for a month, or maybe longer if the federal government defaults. Apparently, Schweitzer’s rationale is that it is okay to trust Washington, D.C. to fix the crisis in a month or less, and it doesn’t matter if Montana blows through its entire rainy-day savings in a matter of a few weeks. Common sense would suggest that it can’t hurt to at least start planning for a worst-case scenario. I guess Schweitzer and his administration have time to order and register specialized cattle brands to make a media spectacle of his vetoes, but don’t have enough time to protect Montana from an impending federal default.