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Q&A with Danny Tenenbaum: MT's new Democratic Socialist lawmaker

Q&A with Danny Tenenbaum: MT's new Democratic Socialist lawmaker

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Danny Tenenbaum is a new member of the Montana Legislature, having won a seat to represent House District 95 (which is the Westside, Northside and some of the Mullan Road area in Missoula). At age 34, he's a public defender and has a Juris Doctor degree from the New York University School of Law to go along with a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and has never held public office before. 

Q: What are your policy priorities for the upcoming session?

A: "Our first priority has to be helping everyday Montanans survive and rebound from the pandemic. This means expanded unemployment assistance sent directly to Montanans without delay. No more clawbacks from the state or months of waiting in limbo.

When the pandemic is over, it's our job to build a better future for Montanans. We don't want to live in extravagance, we just want to live in a world where we don't have to struggle to afford housing, health care, and child care. These are my priorities...what can we do in the legislature?"

Q: What are your expectations for getting those policy goals implemented as you are in the minority party and working with a Republican governor?

A: "As far as working with Republicans and the incoming administration - there's no use in writing anyone off without talking to them first. I didn't run for office to help a specific party or to further someone's political career - my mission is to build a tangibly better future for working-class Montanans. That's what my constituents expect of me, and that's what I'm going to try and do at the Capitol."

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Montanans today?

A: "We can take immediate action to cap the price of commonly prescribed drugs like insulin, require transparent hospital billing, and open up public treatment centers in every city across the state. On a broader scale, we have to end the for-profit model of health care. It's time to begin moving to a single-payer system like Medicare For All.

We need massive statewide investment in affordable housing. And we have to end the persistent NIMBYism that prevents working-class Montanans from laying down roots in places like Bozeman, Missoula, and the Flathead.

Statewide public pre-K should've happened years ago. Public schools are free for 5-year-olds and there's no reason why it shouldn't be free for three- and four-year-olds.

How do we fund this New Deal-type reinvestment in our communities? Tax the rich, plain and simple. It's time to end the era of politicians protecting the rich. Our income and capital-gains tax laws are written by and for the hyper wealthy. Let's rewrite them to help out everyday Montanans."

The Missoulian has reached out to all newly-elected members of the Montana Legislature, who represent districts in Missoula County, who have never held public office before.

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