Lindeen: End Big-Oil Tax Break
By JIM GRANSBERY
Of The Gazette Staff
Monica Lindeen has difficulty with the idea of an "excess-profits tax," mostly in how it cannot be defined.
But she would have no trouble whatsoever in taking away billions of dollars in tax credits and incentives Congress has given to big oil companies.
"We are getting no return on that investment and they should be ended," she said Tuesday evening during a question-and-answer period at the monthly Yellowstone Democratic Club meeting.
She was responding to a query about gasoline prices and oil company profits. Oil companies will announce quarterly reports this week, and record earnings are anticipated as gasoline prices are headed for $3 a gallon or more.
Lindeen, a term-limited representative in the Montana House, is running for the state's lone seat in the U.S. House. The incumbent, Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont., is seeking a fourth term. But before Lindeen gets to Rehberg, she must win the Democratic Party's primary election on June 6. A last-minute filing by Eric Jon Gunderson of Frenchtown produced a contested race. Little is known about Gunderson.
"All I know is that he is a candidate," Lindeen said.
In her travels across the state, Lindeen said she discerns that voters are "hungry for a change. What I hear is that this Congress and administration has forgotten about the working men and women and the middle class.
"It is not just Democrats," she said. "It is independents and Republicans who are concerned about the lack of personal responsibility."
Lindeen said there must be a serious conversation about public financing of campaigns. She would offer no specifics to how that might be accomplished, but said that "special-interest money is running the show back there" in Washington, D.C.
"The multinational corporations are running the country and running the middle class straight out," Lindeen said.
She voiced her support for the Apollo Initiative, a national effort to produce the research and development of alternate energy sources and energy-efficient building and products. The Apollo Initiative is patterned after the man-on-the-moon project of the 1960s.
Lindeen also said the sign-up deadline for the Medicare prescription benefit of May 15 should be extended because many seniors are still confused as to what the program will or will not do. Those who sign up after May 15 will suffer a 1 percent per month penalty in increased cost.
She said wounded veterans must have the best medical care available and that she would never limit access to public lands.
She said the political landscape is changing, noting that Democrats won the governor's seat in 2004, controlled the state Senate and gained a tie in the state House after a decade of being in the minority.
On the question of illegal immigrants, she said borders must be secure; however, she questioned the efficacy of a fence on the border.
"My real concern is for what illegal immigrants cost U.S. taxpayers in services and driving down wages for American workers."
Trade agreements are not helping the people of Mexico, and the United States must get Mexico to help secure the border, too, she said.
Lindeen was asked if there was a vote to go to war against Iran, how would she vote.
"At this point, I don't have any facts about that," she said. "But Congress has abdicated its responsibilities to the checks and balances in our system. We have to question, who has the power? What kind of a position have we placed ourselves strategically?"
She said trade deficits and national debt are a sign of economic weakness and that trade agreements should be revisited to determine if they are fair.
She said there is no easy answer for the situation in Iraq.
"Staying or leaving tomorrow are the options and they both suck," she said. She said she fears the situation is disintegrating.
Published on Wednesday, April 26, 2006