Politics

Jan 14, 2013 9:56 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News

Tester talks healthcare, campaign finance, and fiscal cliff

HELENA - U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) hit on several hot button political issues as he spoke to the Montana Legislature on Monday.

Tester spoke to both the House and Senate about campaign finance, the federal fiscal cliff and healthcare.

Tester says corporations are not people and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to dump unlimited amounts of cash into the election is a "kick in the teeth to democracy."

"It opened up the floodgates to more TV commercials than we have ever seen before," Tester said. "In this last Senate election, more Senate commercials were on TV in Montana than any other Senate race in the country, ever."

Tester also talked about the "fiscal cliff" package that Congress passed at the end of 2012 to prevent a slew of tax increases and budget cuts.

"It was better than nothing, but not much," Tester said.

As Congress grapples with the budget this year, Tester says he wants to look at simplifying the tax code and combing through the budget to find waste.

"When it comes to spending, every program needs to be on the table, every program," Tester said. "Tax earmarks cost us $1.1 trillion. We can do better than that."

He also criticized the 2011 Montana Legislature for failing to enact legislation which implements the Affordable Care Act.

"There was an opportunity last session to set up the health insurance exchange to help make insurance more affordable over the long haul. That opportunity was missed and now the federal government will do it for Montana," Tester said. "I would have preferred the former."

Tester said the Montana Legislature has an opportunity to help lower the cost of healthcare this session and he urged lawmakers to get it done by working together.

"No one person has all the answers. But all of you together do have the answers," Tester said. "And working together, you'll find them. It's not just a challenge. It's a responsibility."

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