By Dustin Hurst ǀ Watchdog.org
HELENA — A television ad touting GOP U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg’s independent voting record has gained national attention.
But not necessarily in a good way.
The Wall Street Journal is suggesting Rehberg’s November foe, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, should hang on to his seat, “if only for truth in advertising.”
The ad talks about how Rehberg on several occasions bucked his party, most-recently with a vote against Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, a plan that would dramatically reform Medicare for seniors. Ryan’s budget would provide premium support – subsidies or tax credits – to seniors, who would then use it to buy private health care.
Analysts say Ryan’s plan would slice $205 billion from Medicare through a 10-year process.
Rehberg opposed Ryan’s budget twice, arguing it would hurt Montana seniors.
“From ending bailouts to reducing taxes, there are some good things in Congressman Ryan’s plan, but I simply refuse to gamble with something as important as Medicare,” Rehberg wrote March 29, 2012, after voting against the plan.
Those votes riled the Wall Street Journal.
“Will it matter if Republicans take over the Senate this November?,” the paper wrote. “Not much if you judge by the TV ads trashing Paul Ryan and the House budget reforms, courtesy of Republican Senate candidate Denny Rehberg.”
The paper slammed the GOP congressman for his help in creating a national fiscal nightmare.
“His claim to independence is a vote for Beltway business as usual on entitlements, which makes him another wildebeest in the herd that has created trillion-dollar deficits.”
Rehberg addressed the paper’s criticism during an radio interview Monday morning. “I don’t care if it’s a Republican solution or a Democrat solution,” the congressman said, again touting his independence.
On the Ryan budget, he said the Medicare reform is fundamentally wrong. “I don’t think it hits the mark,” he said.
The paper said Rehberg, much like Tester, votes with his party nearly 100 percent of the time. The Washington Post’s vote tracker says Rehberg votes with Republicans 92 percent of the time, while Tester sides with Democrats in 91 percent of his votes.
But as Politico notes, Rehberg could earn the GOP’s good graces if he completes a Republican U.S. Senate takeover.
“Then again, if it helps him knock off Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, there’s a very good chance all will be forgiven,” Politico author Charles Mahtesian wrote last week.