In this season of political ads truth is the loser

Brad Molnar
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Russian and Chinese military aggression, a federal budget that isn’t, burying our children in debt, and an international trade war; these should be enough to fuel a vigorous campaign. Instead Jon Tester and Matt Rosendale trade barbs on who lives in a “castle” and who bought a “trophy ranch”; with truth be damned as the only rule.

After promising to run “on the issues” Rosendale’s ad accuses Jon Tester of buying a “Cosmopolitan Castle.” The National Republican Senatorial

Committee first raised this barn

burner issue. Rosendale took it to greater prominence with a personal ad appearance.

Rosendale charges that Tester bought a luxury home worth a million dollars and infers the money to pay for it was somehow tainted. The “luxury home” is a three bedroom-bathand-a-half house about the same size as my Redneck Mansion. My camp sits on seven acres allowing me to eat organically and feed my mule. Tester’s lot is so small he can’t plant potatoes or feed his donkey so that makes me the winner; but I digress. Jon’s Washington home was bought for about $756,000 in 2013 and has appreciated by about $100,000 since. For the area it is just a middle income house.

Until recently Republican candidates condemned “class warfare” and name calling ads. I now expect no better from the NRSC but it is Rosendale’s responsibility to do his own research and produce accurate ads. To be fair I must address the current Tester ad, which is approved by Tester personally.

The Tester ad starts with a white haired lady from Butte announcing she has cancer and ends with “Matt Rosendale scares me to death”. In between she smacks “Maryland Matt” upside his head with, “He pushed to allow dropping coverage for pre-existing conditions, hired an insurance lob-

byist to help run his office, then

“rubber stamped” a 23% insurance premium hike though it is “his job to protect consumers”.

The first statement lists a

June 14th Associated Press story for validation. Nope. Not a single statement in the article from Rosendale. Instead is a quote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ““Everybody I know in the Senate — everybody — is in favor of maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions.” As Montana’s Auditor, Rosendale cannot “push” anything to do with Obamacare which is where pre-existing coverage lies. It is federally adminis- tered. I did find a 2017 state- ment from Rosendale that he is working with congress, “To protect our most vulnerable people with expensive pre-existing conditions, without driving up the cost of insurance for everyone else”. Tester’s charges are false.

True, Rosendale did hire an insurance expert to work on the insurance issues his office handles and she did testify before the legislature on pending insurance bills. OMG! Not that!

True, in 2017 Blue Cross and Blue Shield outlined the need for a 23 percent rate increase. They said it was driven by the regulations related to Obamacare. Auditor Rosendale was correct when he said the legislature did not give his of- fice the authority to deny rate increases except for structural inequality. In Colorado BCBS took a 27 percent rate increase for the same reasons; also not Matt’s fault. This year BCBS is taking a 4 percent rate decrease. Rosendale cannot take credit for that either.

Rosendale held two listening sessions on the increases. Sen. Daines’s staff attended. Tester’s staff did not.

In the 2016 rate session BCBS took almost a 58 percent increase and Auditor Monica Lindeen stated she was sorry but did not have the authority to deny an increase. Then she advised two other insurance companies to raise their rates because they could not survive the coming cost causers under their current plans. Tester did not comment.

Senator Tester was the Montana Senate President so I assume he knew Rosendale could not “push” or “rubberstamp” as he alleges through a sick old lady from Butte. Rosendale is also guilty of false and misleading statements. They both get Fs on their new ads for accuracy and Fs for being germane. Tester gets a C for being clever.

Democracy is not about moral equivalency. For partisans to argue “Yeah, but the other guy

did it first” or “Yeah, but our

guy is the lesser of two evils” is not acceptable. It undermines our experiment in democracy. All must be accountable.

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