Representatives of some groups in Montana have praised Tuesday’s passage of the bill raising the nation’s debt ceiling, averting an expected shortfall that would have led to the nation not being able to pay all of its bills, including the potential to cut into Social Security checks.
AARP Montana State Director Bob Bartholomew said AARP has been focused on ensuring that people who have paid into Social Security and Medicare over the years continued to receive their benefits.
“AARP Montana is pleased that members of Congress worked together to prevent default to ensure that seniors will continue to receive their Social Security checks and have access to health care, ” Bartholomew said in a statement. “We are also gratified that lawmakers heard the voices of Montana seniors and prevented any cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits in the first round of deficit negotiations.
“As the budget debate continues, AARP will continue to impress upon Congress the need to protect Medicare and Social Security from harmful cuts, ” he added.
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Sen. Max Baucus, who voted for the bill to raise the debt ceiling along with fellow Montana Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, cited comments from several Montanans in a release Tuesday.
Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont., voted against the bill and issued a statement Monday saying that, while well-intentioned, the deal was full of gimmicks, the creation of a commision and the chance of tax increases.
Rehberg said the only way to ensure deficit spending ends is to pass a balanced budget amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
But the Montanans Baucus cited praised Tuesday’s passage of the bill, and the senator’s work in the process.
Gordon Stoner, president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, said Montana agriculture producers were concerned they could be singled out for cuts to aid.
“Before this compromise, Washington gridlock had Montana farmers worried, with some folks talking about cutting the support we depend on by more than 20 percent, ” Stoner said. “But Max stood up for us to get the best deal possible for Montana farmers, and thanks to him, agriculture programs aren’t singled out unfairly in this deal. Montana farmers are more than willing to contribute their fair share, and that’s why the Grain Growers support this compromise. ”
Dustin Stewart, Montana Building Industry Association executive director, also thanked Baucus for his support of the bill.
“Failure to pass this plan could ultimately have led to a sudden increase in interest rates on home mortgages, which would further weaken housing demand and place even more out-of-state, artificial downward pressure on Montana home prices, ” Stewart said.
Merv Gunderson of the Montana American Legion, past department commander of Belgrade Post 30, said if the compromise had failed, military veterans could have suffered the consequences.
“Without a compromise, politics would have blocked some veterans’ benefits, ” Gunderson said. “The bottom line is that veterans’ benefits are not ‘entitlements’ and they shouldn’t be a political football. They’re earned benefits and a sacred obligation. ”