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Rehberg Calls Health Care for Thousands of Montanans a “Vacation Home”

“An expensive vacation home.”

That’s what millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg called health care for thousands of Montanans.

Congressman Rehberg is asking the bipartisan committee tasked with cutting debt and spending to prevent Medicaid from serving many low-income Montanans access health care.  According to the Kaiser family foundation, the measure Congressman Rehberg wants to end will provide 57,356 Montanans with health care [Kaiser Family Foundation, 5/10, p. 43].

Only a millionaire Congressman who thinks he’s ‘cash poor’ would call health care an ‘expensive vacation home’,” said Ted Dick Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Health care is not a luxury for families struggling to make ends meet, but Congressman Rehberg has no idea what it takes to get by for most Montanans.”

The Billings Gazette today reminded Montanans that 40% of babies born in Montana have mothers on Medicaid, and that Congressman Rehberg simply doesn’t understand how Medicaid works [Billings Gazette, 10/6/11].  

But this wouldn’t be the first time Congressman Rehberg showed Montanans just how out of touch he is with life for working families:

  • In a meeting with Missoulians Congressman Rehberg—who is worth millions of dollars—said he was ‘cash poor’ and ‘struggling like everyone else’ [TPM, 4/29/11].
  • Congressman Rehberg called Pell Grants ‘welfare’ in an interview with Blog Talk Radio in April [Huffington Post, 4/1/11].
  • Just last week, Congressman Rehberg interrogated a school administrator about fraud in a program that helps low-income students pay for school lunch [TPM, 10/1/11].
  • In 2007, Congressman Rehberg said a program to give children healthcare (CHIP) was based on "an extremist ideology" [Helena IR, 8/3/07].

“If Congressman Rehberg were truly serious about tackling the debt, he would end tax loopholes for millionaires,” added Dick.  “Unfortunately, Congressman Rehberg would rather protect his fellow millionaires than do what’s right for Montana families.

While Congressman Rehberg thinks health care is a luxury, he has voted against ending irresponsible tax loopholes for his fellow millionaires, which would help pay down the debt:

Cut, Cap Balance Would Have Made it Nearly Impossible to Close Tax Loopholes for Millionaires -– The controversial Cut, Cap, Balance plan would have required a 2/3rds majority to end loopholes for millionaires, despite delivering huge cuts to Medicare and Social Security [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/27/11, Roll Call Vote #690, 8/1/11].

Supported Enron-Style Offshore Tax Loopholes -- In 2002, Rehberg voted against an amendment to stop corporations from re-incorporating in offshore tax havens, such as Bermuda, to create shell corporations as a way to avoid paying U.S. taxes.  The amendment was defeated 186-192.  [HR 4931, Vote #247, 6/21/02]

Rehberg Opposed Reducing Deficit By $53 Billion By Closing Loophole Allowing Oil Companies to Drill Without Paying Royalties --  In February 2011, Rehberg voted against the Markey (MA) Amendment (#27) that required oil companies that hold royalty-free leases allowing them to drill for free on the public's offshore lands to renegotiate those leases so that the public is paid the standard royalty charged for drilling. (GAO estimates that closing this loophole could save up to $53 billion over 25 years). [HR 1, House Roll Call Vote #109, 2/18/11]

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