Posted by (+2817) 8 years ago
Billings Gazette wrote:Both John Lewis and Ryan Zinke are Montana natives with careers in government service. Zinke served overseas in the U.S. Navy. Lewis worked for former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus in Washington and in Montana. He learned how Congress works and how to navigate myriad federal agencies to serve Montana constituents.
Zinke deserves Montanans’ thanks for his military service. But that doesn’t mean he deserves their votes. As we choose the one person to represent all 1 million of us in the U.S. House, let’s select the candidate whose positions are clear and who has prioritized his efforts to communicate with the public.
Where is Zinke on the political spectrum? Hard to say. In his first state legislative session, his votes generally were rated moderate. Two years later, he voted more conservatively.
Consider: All three members of Montana’s congressional delegation have supported legislation to permanently protect 430,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service parcels near Glacier National Park, placing the land off limits to hard-rock mining, mountaintop-removal coal mining, and oil and gas development. However, Zinke reiterated last week in Billings that he opposes the bill because it would protect the North Fork Watershed “in perpetuity.” (This Montana bill has been blocked in the Senate since April by three Republicans: Ted Cruz of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.)
The public's land
Conversely, Zinke opposes another made-in-Montana public land idea, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, because it doesn’t set a permanent annual target for timber harvest after 15 years.
Lewis supports both of these Montana-generated bills as well as the Rocky Mountain Front Protection Act, another common-sense proposal that grew from grass roots concerns of outdoor recreationists, conservationists, ranchers and small businesses.
Lewis is solidly opposed to the Montana GOP plank calling for federal lands to be transferred to states. Rather, Lewis supports Congress starting to legislate again and provide more effective direction to land management agencies.
Zinke doesn’t understand Montana Common Core math and reading standards. His use of the term “Common Core” to whip up a federal bogeyman grossly misrepresents the focus on greater academic rigor and accountability that Montana public schools are striving to provide under standards that our state chose to adopt in a public process.
Lewis, whose children attend Helena public schools, has seen what they are learning and knows that our schools are working to meet the needs of Montana students.
Zinke has said he wants to “abandon” Obamacare.
Lewis understands that the Affordable Care Act, despite its flaws, is helping thousands of Montanans who are getting health insurance (subsidized and unsubsidized) through the new exchange, who are no longer denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, Medicare enrollees who now have greater preventive health care benefits and lower costs for prescription medicine, and young adults who can remain on their parents’ insurance plans till age 26.
Both candidates support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would take some pressure off rail and truck transportation of Bakken crude. However, only Lewis articulated an understanding of the government’s responsibility to help with safety and adequate rail infrastructure that still will be needed.
Recognizing that Montana farmers need rail shipping capacity to move their production to market, Lewis supports writing a new Highway Bill that will address rail infrastructure as well as roads.
Lewis has moderate views. Asked about preventing another Newtown, Conn., massacre, he spoke about the need to improve access to mental health care.
Lewis’ “all of the above and below” energy proposal includes making permanent the Indian Coal Production Tax Credit, ending the ethanol corn mandate, enacting a national renewable energy standard similar to the standard Montana already is using, and extending the wind energy production tax credit for 10 years.
A question at the Billings debate last week revealed a stark contrast between the candidates on sending U.S. ground troops back to Iraq.
“I support the current targeted approach, but I don’t want to keep repeating the mistakes of the past 12 years,” Lewis replied.
“We’re going to fight ISIS in the deserts of Iraq or we’re going to fight them here,” said Zinke. Sounds like President George W. Bush’s Iraq war slogan.
Zinke speaks in confident sound bites. Lewis’ answers are more substantive, reflective of a public servant who studies the issues and is open to collaborating with people who are of different opinions and parties.
In weighing this year’s candidates, Lewis registers as the one most prepared to start chipping away at government gridlock to get Congress working for us again
Read more: http://billingsgazette.co...z3FJWtcmAW