The Lies Some Politicians Tell

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Recently, outgoing Senator Eric Moore has made the rounds of local media, offering “a factual perspective” on “the future of mining and Medicaid in Montana.” The picture he painted was grim, indeed: Unless the Republicanled legislature rushed in to quickly intervene, Montana’s mining industry would grind to a halt thanks to environmental extremists, while legions of lazy able-bodied welfare cheats would hijack our state’s health care system.

The cause of this impending chaos? Two ballot initiatives that had generated sufficient validated signatures to qualify for this November’s general election. I-185, which raises the tobacco tax to cover Medicaid expansion, affording roughly 90,000 low-income Montanans with quality health care; and I-186, which requires any new hard rock mine to have a sensible permanent clean-up plan.

The solution proposed by Moore and his Republican colleagues, to fend off such disasters? A special July legislative session, to enact bills essentially voiding the ballot initiatives. This, he claimed, would provide “the opportunity for Montana voters to have a say in the fiscal future of their state.”

This is a handy inversion of the truth—otherwise known as a lie: The ballot initiatives themselves provide that opportunity, generated by voters at the grassroots, in accord with the state constitution. The legislative sessionwhich failed to garner enough support even among the Republican legislative majority—would have amounted to nothing less than an attempt to overturn the wishes and will of the people.

And it would have been a costly attempt, at that: Moore claimed it would cost a mere $90,000 of taxpayer money; the true figure would be closer to $210,000, based on the last special session. He also declared these ballot measures would “eliminate good jobs.” But in point of fact I-186 supports the creation of good, sustainable mining opportunities. And I-185 looks to be a significant job-creator for the state: According to an April 2018 study prepared by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, continuing the Medicaid expansion begun in Montana in 2015, will generate 5,000 jobs and $270 million in personal income each year from 2018 to 2020.

As to those welfare cheats Moore is so concerned about, this unseemly stereotype is the biggest lie of all. Who among us does not know people—friends, relatives, acquaintances, family members—who have benefitted mightily from Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act? Moore threatens “cuts to state services” if these Montanans’ needs are served. He’ll have plenty of time to ponder all this after election day.

Indeed, there is one constitutional principle for which Mr. Moore‘s ideas present an excellent argument: term limits. It is time for a change in SD 19.

Mary Stange


(Mary Stange is the Democratic candidate for SD 19.)