Democrats in Montana have had a lot of fun during the last two major US Senate races in Montana in 2012 and 2006 attempting to run with the narrative: GOP versus firefighters.
Could the boot be on the other foot in 2014?
I typically don’t cover every one of the press releases coming out of the NRSC and the DSCC, but with rural fire departments looking to get burned by Obamacare, it could be Dems versus firefighters in 2014.
Full press release from the NRSC:
John Walsh Puts ObamaCare Above All: Volunteer Firefighters Latest Victim of Unpopular Law
WASHINGTON, DC – Montana Democratic senatorial candidate John Walsh has stood by ObamaCare. Walsh’s loyalty to ObamaCare has remained in the face of multiple broken promises and the disastrous rollout of the unpopular law. Now it appears that Walsh will remain loyal to ObamaCare even though the law jeopardizes volunteer firefighters’ benefits and could endanger public safety by reducing firefighters’ hours, and potentially eliminating fire departments.
The AP explains “volunteers are considered employees for tax purposes, a classification that grew out of an ongoing effort to attract firefighters by offering them such incentives as stipends, retirement benefits and free gym memberships.” Unfortunately this incentive program also “leaves open the question of whether the volunteer firefighters fall under the health care law’s requirement that employers with 50 or more employees working at least 30 hours a week must provide health insurance for them.”
These ObamaCare requirements, if forced upon volunteer fire departments, could result in higher taxes on Montana families or penalties for the departments, many of which are already struggling financially. Unable to cope with the crippling new costs, many volunteer fire departments could be forced to cut back volunteers’ hours and eliminate benefit programs at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit volunteers.
In Montana, 94 percent of fire departments are volunteer or mostly volunteer, yet John Walsh prioritizes politics ahead of Montana’s first responders.
“ObamaCare has been a disaster, and now volunteer firefighters and the communities that rely on them are the latest victims of this terrible law that John Walsh stands by,” said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. “Ninety-four percent of Montana’s fire departments are volunteer, and it is unfair and unfortunate that those firefighters and the communities they protect are the latest ObamaCare victims.”
Walsh Opposes Repealing ObamaCare