So it’s over, and there’s no infrastructure bill.
Usually HB 2, the big budget bill would be hammered out last, and there’s no way you can go home without that being done…save for a special session, maybe the very next day (students of Montana history know that we did this right from the get-go). Nonetheless, many thought we were indeed dependent upon infrastructure before going home, like the tragic Scott Staffanson (R-Sidney). Watching Knudsen chastise him and say he’s “out of order” for trying to revive the infrastructure vote was certainly one of yesterday’s highlights to me. Does Staffanson have a lot of intelligence?
So we won’t have a massive building project that takes your tax money and uses it to build things up around the state. It’s not the first time, and the way the national economy is going, it won’t be the last. And is that such a bad thing?
Maybe it would have been bad if it was still $392 million for infrastructure, but it wasn’t – it was $150 million. Shit, we piss that away here in the City and County of Missoula at least once a year! No, that’s $150 million divided up at least 10 different ways, and most going to a few different projects around the state. And I’m sorry, but I have no fear that Romney Hall will fall down in the next two years, I have no fear that the lights will go out in Lewis & Clark Caverns, and I have no fear that we’ll do just fine with oil and natural gas exploration without a huge stimulus.
Yeah, stimulus. That’s what this is, a stimulus, and just like the stimulus that Obama gave us in 2008, this is a huge taxpayer handout to the banks. Over 20 years, we’d have paid $67.8 million to the banks in interest. That might not sound like a lot, but remember, the people in the legislature are members of the entitled class.
Ah, Baby Boomers. You’ve heard me bitch about them a lot on this site, and for good reason – the world was given to them on a platter and they expect it to always be that way.
Things skip a generation. Depending on your age, your parents or grandparents struggled, getting through the Depression and then WWII. They struggled and they sacrificed, and they did that so their kids could have a better life. Their kids did have a better life, but they had more than that – they had everything. And what did they do with it? They threw it onto the floor so it could smash into a million tiny pieces.
That ‘everything’ was America, and it lies broken at my generation’s feet. This is the country our parents are handing off to us, the remnants of Generation X and Y and the Millenials – we get nothing but debt and misery and the promise that our lives will be worse than our parents. For the first time in American history, we’re told that the American Dream no long exists, that we can’t have it, and that we might as well not even try.
The levels of anger, frustration and resentment that this stirs up are immense and immeasurable. We saw some of the fallout from that yesterday, with the collapse of Bullock’s infrastructure bill. Sure, many older members might have voted against it, and a lot of younger Democrats might have voted for it, but these are party lines. I feel sorry for the young Democrats that know firsthand what debt is like, how it makes them and their friends suffer, and how they were pulled into supporting more. Like a horse that knows it has a bad rider, these young Democrats need to buck their party and tell them to their face and with a finger in it, ‘wise up, assholes – debt is killing us.’
That’s leadership, and we’re sorely lacking in that department here in the Treasure State. Don’t listen to any nonsense saying that Bullock showed leadership by compromising and reducing the size of the infrastructure bill. That wasn’t leadership, that was folly. Keep it at $400 million, just reduce the bond debt! We could have gotten Early Edge childhood education and we could have gotten that damn Montana Historical Society building, but Bullock had to kiss the ass of his banker friends.
Oh, how Montana suffers as a result!
I brought up yesterday, all day long, our problems with this bonding approach. I talked about it months ago when we discussed the Montana budget in detail. But still we persisted, going down a road named fool’s errand and thinking we’d come out clean the other side. And maybe we will.
I don’t know why I’m a Democrat anymore, I have to be completely honest with you. The Party seems to be in bed with Wall Street and their anointed chosen one in 2016 is a person I despise. Sometimes I think I have a lot more in common with Republicans, but then I have to remind myself this isn’t true:
- I don’t hate women;
- Minorities don’t make me sick;
- Corporations are not my friend;
- Paying someone $0.18 a day is not good business;
- I don’t lose sleep over abortions;
- Fossil fuels aren’t gods;
- Gay people aren’t the devil;
- Rhapsodizing about God 24/7 is not my thing.
So those are all reasons I’m not a Republican. And that’s why I continue to champion the Democrats, with the perhaps misplaced-hope that they’ll one day come along and kick those corporate interests that have them on a leash, kick them right in the ass!
Maybe that kicking will happen one day, but not today. I am thankful that every Montana legislature for the next 20 years doesn’t have to start with millions of dollars of bond debt around its neck, however, and for that we have Republicans to thank. So should these 35 Republicans that voted against the infrastructure bill be hounded until their voted out of office? I’m not so sure.
- Nancy Ballance, Hamilton
- Jerry Bennett, Libby
- Seth Berglee, Joliet
- Randy Brodehl, Kalispell
- Bob Brown, Thompson Falls
- Tom Burnett, Bozeman
- Alan Doane, Bloomfield
- Ron Ehli, Hamilton
- Clayton Fiscus, Billings
- Carl Glimm, Kila
- Edward Greef, Florence
- David Hagstrom, Billings
- Bill Harris, Winnett
- Greg Hertz, Polson
- Don Jones, Billings
- Debra Lamm, Livingston
- Sarah Laszloffy, Billings
- Mike Miller, Helmville
- Matthew Monforton, Bozeman
- Mark Noland, Bigfork
- Albert Olszewski, Kalispell
- Randall Pinocco, Great Falls
- Keith Regier, Kalispell
- Nick Schwaderer, Superior
- Scott Staffanson, Sidney
- Brad Tschida, Missoula
- Kirk Wagoner, Montana City
- Kerry White, Bozeman
- Art Wittich, Bozeman
- Daniel Zolnikov, Billings
It’s important to remember that $93 million in new infrastructure spending has been approved in Montana for the next two years.
In 2013 the Montana infrastructure bill was only $35 million, and Bullock vetoed it. After that it’s hard to find anything on previous infrastructure bills and their amounts.
- We know that in 2011, Brian Schweitzer pointed out Montana infrastructure needs to the tune of $3.1 billion.
- In 2009, we know that Montana Planners figured out we’d need $789 million in drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years, (PDF), though that was bumped up to $822 million by 2013.
After that it’s pretty hard to find what we spent…though I never really figured out what we spent. I suppose old infrastructure bills and spending reports are buried out there somewhere, but I’ll not be finding them today. I wish the state would do a better job of getting their information to show up on search engines, but that’d probably take another huge round of employee training.
Right now we have no infrastructure spending, and this hurts some communities more than others. I’d be interested to know which representatives are in those districts, and we have a pretty good look with these six House members here:
- Edward Greef (R-Florence)
- Stephanie Hess (R-Havre)
- Kenneth Holmlund (R-Miles City)
- Steve Lavin (R-Kalispell)
- Bruce Meyers (R-Box Elder)
- Nick Schwaderer (R-Superior)
Will they get their seats back in 2017? Can the Democrats beat them? Will the Democrats be beaten?
I’m not convinced you can really lay the blame at the feet of those six, but you can lay it at the feet of the 35 Republicans that voted against this. That’s a winning strategy…or is it?
I know Nancy Keenan and the Montana Democratic Party are going to take that one, because it’s really all that’s open to them. Their best bet is to blame the GOP for not passing infrastructure…even when Bullock but out more than half of the bill. That’s a really good argument, except for its weakest point, and that’s bonding.
First thing the Republicans will say is that Bullock should have brought down the bonds by using more cash. We had the cash, they’ll say! So this argument right there does away with the Democrats’ argument, and we’re back at square one.
Now Democrats will have to use the argument that bonding makes sense, based on the credit climate, low interest rates, and other things that regular voters get glazed eyes over. That’s banker talk, and it won’t win elections. Besides that, it sure as shit won’t win the Hi-Line or other agrarian areas of the state! These people know what debt is, and they know that cash is better…or do they?
Remember that generational divide, that skipping of a generation? Their parents knew that debt was bad, but now they’re in debt up to their eyeballs and the government just keeps printing up more money to hand out to them. I mean, our parents don’t even have anything saved for retirement. They know we have a problem, just like the addict knows they have a problem…and they ignore it.
So you might get some traction with that argument, but you have to realize…it didn’t work already! Republicans already said bonding was a terrible idea, and I’m betting many of their constituents agree with them on that.
So we’re back to square one again, because the bonding argument never sold in the first place. Democrats can’t sell the idea of bonding…so why do we keep trying?
I talked yesterday about the bankers having their hooks in Bullock, and that’s exactly right. I won’t be donating any money to his campaign, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t need to. He decided to ally himself with the bankers, not the voters. I mean, he’s not even asking for my money…he’s just asking rich people for theirs. Who do you think he wants to represent? Well, it sure as shit isn’t me!
Bullock’s infrastructure bill was a massive handout to the Montana banks, and in turn the Wall Street banks that prop them up. Republicans called him out on that, and he had to swallow his pride and cut the banker’s handout in half. Now, they expected this, as they’re smart – always go into a negation asking for twice what you want. Unfortunately, their ploy didn’t work, and now they won’t have any money. So instead of counting and calculating all the interest they could have had, for the next two years they’ll be devising strategies to come up with a new, even better (bigger) infrastructure bill for 2017, one that gives them even more handouts.
We’ve got a lot of money in Montana. Bullock wanted a surplus of $300 million. First we had Republicans try to get $120 million in tax cuts through, and then we saw them try for a tax cut that would benefit the top 10%. Both were vetoed.
Since we didn’t spend anything on infrastructure, we should now have close to $400 million for a surplus…though I’m not positive on that. That might not be as much as the $426 million surplus we were set to have in mid-2013, but it’s pretty good. But…for what? Having a lot of money in the bank is great for making you feel good, and sometimes it’s fun to look at, but is it actually doing you any good? Interest rates are nonexistent in this country as they don’t allow the middle class to die, so you’re not making any money there. Wouldn’t that money be doing better in your community?
So we have two routes for that – government spending or individual spending. One requires the government decide what to do with your money, the other lets you decide. For the next two years, just like last time, we won’t have that – we’ll have your money sitting in the bank doing nothing.
That’s just a waste, but remember, Bullock had to give those bankers their unearned cut, and now we all suffer. We could have used that cash, but we wanted to rack up more debt. Remember, you won’t be paying that debt, your kids will. I represent your kids, their frustrations and resentment and I’m telling you – you’re full of shit.
You destroyed what your parents gave you and you now tell us that our lives won’t be as good as yours. Well, we see what your life is – obesity, failed marriages, no retirement savings, and massive consumer debt – and we say ‘no thanks to that.’
Remember, America is a failure, the whole country. We’re a sinking ship, and have been for some time. Banks are one of the leading reasons for this, and we both saw that real good in 2008, and some of your grandparents or great-grandparents saw it really good in 1928. We don’t want to see it again.
So while everyone else is moaning and groaning over what happened yesterday and this morning, I’m not. I know that we have a lot of money, and that we don’t have debt. Those are two things the previous generation never gave to me. I like the feel of it, and I think we need to keep things that way. In fact, let’s expand that to America, not just Montana.
And the beauty of expanding that to America is that there’s a lot more money to play around with…and save. Oh yes, to stop pissing away so much overseas so we could fund needed services and infrastructure here, that’s the dream. We’re getting there, it just takes time. And as you know, when enough time passes, the current leaders step aside and new ones come forth.
That’s all we’re waiting for – the return of common sense, the inevitable turning of that generational wheel.