Conservative group's tour bus stops in Billings

2012-10-27T22:07:00Z 2012-10-28T07:50:03Z Conservative group's tour bus stops in BillingsBy CARMEN DAYE IRISH cirish@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The Obama Failing Agenda Tour, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, rolled into Billings on Saturday. It featured Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who's also the co-founder of the Daily Caller, Joe Balyeat and Henry Kriegel.

Using a giant black tour bus with a massive photo of President Barack Obama on each side and quote bubbles proclaiming “Obama’s Failing Agenda: $1.7 trillion health care takeover and $16 trillion national debt,” the national tour is presenting a case for smaller government.

The Montana tour is intended to galvanize grass-roots pressure on Obama to end his “failing agenda” and on U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., for his support of Obama’s policies, according to Americans for Prosperity.

Carlson told a crowd of about 50 people at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana Convention Center that as of last month, Washington, D.C., is the richest city in the United States.

“Washington, D.C., is richer because you’re poorer,” he said.

“It’s is a sign of a very real phenomenon, which is a massive transfer of wealth from the rest of the country to the federal city.”

Tester spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff said in a prepared statement that AFP “is a secretive billionaire’s club that will stop at nothing — even if it means lying to Montanans — to try and buy votes for Congressman Dennis Rehberg.

“That’s because Congressman Rehberg supports tax loopholes for billionaires and millionaires while sticking it to Montana’s working families.” Rehberg is in a contentious race against Tester for the U.S. Senate.

Former Montana state senator and Montana AFP state director Balyeat said Obama’s agenda has failed America and failed Montana in the past four years. He claims that 70 percent more people are on food stamps and that the average American family has lost 40 percent of accumulated wealth in the past four years.

“The problem is not the magnitude of the hole we’re in, the problem is Obama and Tester are still digging,” Balyeat said.

He said Tester has voted for higher taxes 57 times. “Tax and spend, tax and spend, tax and spend.”

Fetissoff quoted Gazette State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison that this claim may be true in a technical sense, but is “at best, debatable, and, at worst, fundamentally misleading."

“For example, about 30 of the 57 (votes) for higher taxes on you" are votes by Tester to either end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers or oppose Republican efforts to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest taxpayers.”

AFT Montana deputy state director Kriegel said the Kalispell tour stop on Thursday drew about 350 supporters while the crowd in Hamilton drew just two dozen. Missoula and Bozeman drew about 200 supporters.

“Our country is clearly going in the wrong direction,” Kriegel said. “Obama’s policies have failed. He promised to cut the deficit in half. Instead, he has increased it by 50 percent.”

Carlson closed by telling the crowd, regardless of whom they choose to elect, to “make sure to hold them accountable.”

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