MEMO: Berg Went To Washington

To: Interested Parties
From: Matt Thornton, Senior Communications Adviser, American Bridge 21st Century
Date: 6/12/2012
RE: Berg Went To Washington

It’s a long way from North Dakota to Washington, DC. But not quite so far that after nearly 30 years in the North Dakota House of Representatives, it took less than eighteen months for Rep. Rick Berg to fit right in as a DC insider.

Unfortunately for Berg, it’s also not so far that his actions in DC don’t make it back to North Dakota voters. Berg has developed a habit of telling North Dakotans one thing, but doing the opposite in DC when he thinks no one’s watching. This means siding with his party to cast votes that hurt the people back home he’s supposed to be representing.

From rural hospitals to essential air service, Berg’s votes to cut funding would jeopardize the well-being of North Dakota residents. He supported the Paul Ryan budget to please the Republican leadership, but abandoned North Dakota farmers who would suffer from the cuts to crop insurance and farm programs. The Ryan budget would also end Medicare as we know it. And twice Berg joined his party to cast votes to block the House from even considering the Senate’s bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act.

Rep. Berg is asking for a promotion to the Senate. But when voters see his record of putting his Republican pals before North Dakotans, what he’ll get instead is sent packing for the long trip back home.

BACKGROUND:

Berg Voted To Cut Funding For Rural North Dakota Hospitals

Berg Voted To Repeal Frontier Amendment That Provides Additional Reimbursements For Rural North Dakota Health Care Providers Who Treat Medicare Patients. Berg voted to repeal the Frontier Amendment, a provision included in health care reform that according to the Bismarck Tribune, “was intended to remedy a longstanding imbalance in how hospitals were reimbursed by Medicare. The previous formula put North Dakota hospitals at a disadvantage as they competed with other states to recruit physicians and buy medical equipment, Conrad said. ‘The basis for the Frontier Amendment is that it at least gets us up to an average rate compared to other places around the country,’ Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Wednesday. ‘In fact, in North Dakota, we provide very high quality care at a lower cost than … other places around the country and, ironically, we’re penalized for it.’” [Vote 14, 1/19/11; Bismarck Tribune, 10/13/11]

Berg Voted to End Essential Air Service

Berg Voted for Short-Term FAA Reauthorization That Eliminated Essential Air Service Contracts. On July 20, 2011, Berg voted for the bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration through Sept. 16, 2011. According to The State Journal, the bill “is a short-term extension that allows the FAA to remain funded and continue its programs through Sept. 16. However, House Republicans attached a variety of provisions to that extension act that the Senate warned would not pass, including a provision that would cut funds to 13 rural and small communities that depend on Essential Air Service subsidies. The previous authorization ended July 22, causing the partial shutdown.” [Vote 611, 7/20/11; The State Journal 08/05/2011]

Berg Voted To End Essential Air Service Contracts But Said The Vote Didn’t Matter Because “Quite Frankly, The Bill Didn’t Go Anywhere.” According to The Jamestown Sun, “A more direct question came from Dan Dewald, Jamestown, about his vote to terminate EAS contracts. ‘I voted for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) bill and it did eliminate them,’ Berg said. ‘Quite frankly, the bill didn’t go anywhere, it was not passed in Senate.’ He voted for HR 658 in April that including phasing out all EAS funding by 2013.” [The Jamestown Sun, 9/2/11]

Berg Voted To Slash Crop Insurance And Farm Program Funding

Berg Voted For Paul Ryan’s 2013 Budget That Would Cut Farm Bill Spending By $180 Billion. According to Farm and Ranch Guide, the Senate Agriculture Committee’s “proposal will have $23 billion in savings over the next 10 years. In contrast, President Obama’s budget wanted $32 billion in ag cuts with no cuts to nutrition programs and no safety net for farmers, and the House ag leadership is looking at $33 billion in ag cuts by April 27. However, the House recently passed a House budget resolution, which Berg voted for, which would reduce total farm bill spending by $180 billion over 10 years.” [Vote 151, 3/29/12; Farm and Ranch Guide, 4/4/12]

Berg Voted For 2012 Budget That Would Cut Crop Insurance By 20 Percent. Berg voted for Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal that according to Reuters, would “slash farm spending by $30 billion over 10 years in a package unveiled on Tuesday as part of his controversial plan to tackle the giant federal budget deficit. Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan called for a reduction in the $5 billion-a-year in ‘direct payments’ made to growers each year regardless of need. The payments are based on past production of grain, cotton and soybeans… The cuts in farm subsidies and crop insurance would equal 20 percent of projected spending on them, according to Congressional Budget Office figures.” [Vote 277,4/15/11; Reuters, 4/5/11]

Berg Voted To “Essentially End Medicare” By Turning It Into A Voucher Program

Berg Voted For Paul Ryan’s 2013 Budget That Would Turn Medicare “Into A Subsidized Set Of Private Insurance Plans.”  On March 29, 2012, Berg voted for Paul Ryan’s fiscal year 2013 budget and recommended budgetary levels for FY2014-FY2022. According to the New York Times, “[Under the Ryan plan] Medicare would be reduced by $205 billion. Medicaid and other health programs would be cut $770 billion. Other entitlement programs, including welfare, food stamps, agriculture subsidies and transportation, would be cut by nearly $2 trillion… Medicare would be turned into a subsidized set of private insurance plans, with the option of buying into the existing fee-for-service program. The annual growth of those subsidies would be capped just above economic growth, well below the current health care inflation rate.” Vote 151, 3/29/12; New York Times, 3/30/12]

Wall Street Journal: Ryan Budget “Would Essentially End Medicare.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee… The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans.” [Wall Street Journal,4/4/11]

Bismarck Tribune Opinion: Paul Ryan Budget Would Have Replaced Medicare With Voucher System. Former Lieutenant Governor Lloyd Omdahl penned an opinion piece for the Bismarck Tribune, in which he claimed the Paul Ryan budget proposal would have replaced Medicare. “In April, Rep. Paul Ryan R-Wis., introduced a Republican budget proposal that included a new voucher system to replace Medicare and make sharp spending cuts in Medicaid. House Republicans voted for the proposal en masse while every Democrat voted against it.” [The Bismarck Tribune Opinion, 6/5/11]

Berg Voted Twice To Block The House From Considering Bipartisan Senate Version Of VAWA

Berg Voted To Block The House Of Representatives From Considering The Senate’s Bipartisan Version Of The Violence Against Women Act. According to text entered into the Congressional Record, Representative Slaughter called for the House to defeat a procedural motion so the Senate’s bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act could be considered. “What we can do in the vote for the budget—when we vote for the rule, we would like to have the previous question be defeated so that we can add VAWA to it. That’s all we are trying to do here today.” Berg voted to order the previous question, thus preventing the House from considering the Senate’s version of the Violence Against Women Act. [Vote, 139, 3/28/12; Congressional Record, p.17, 3/28/12]

Berg Voted To Block The House Of Representatives From Considering The Senate’s Bipartisan Version Of The Violence Against Women Act. According to text entered into the Congressional Record, Representative Polis declared, “[I]f we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to this closed rule to make in order the bipartisan Violence Against Women bill that passed the United States Senate with 68 votes as an amendment offered by Representative Conyers, Representative Moore, and Representative Lofgren. If the House passes that, it will proceed to President Obama’s desk.” Berg voted to order the previous question, thus preventing the House from considering the Senate’s bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act. [Vote 254, 5/16/12; Congressional Record, p.25, 5/16/12]