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Curtis Stofferahn, Published June 05 2011

Senator parrots the party line

When North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven ran for U.S. senator, political pundits and his own campaign literature cast him as a “moderate.” When he cast his vote for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, however, he effectively cast off the mantle of “moderate.”

Although he could have joined the five “moderate” Republican senators who voted against the Ryan budget, Hoeven instead allied himself with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the right wing of his party. Thus, in voting for the Ryan budget, he joined Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., in supporting the privatization of Medicare.

The Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it, and instead Republicans in Congress would give everyone younger than age 55 a voucher to buy private medical insurance when they reach age 65. Despite the resounding unpopularity of the Ryan privatization plan, according to every public opinion poll, despite Newt Gingrich criticizing it as “right-wing social engineering,” and despite the outcry against it at town halls held by Republican members of Congress last month, Hoeven demonstrated his obeisance to the right wing of the Republican Party. In fact, Hoeven has voted with the Republican Party 98 percent of the time, according to the Washington Post.

Perhaps now we can lay to rest the notion that Hoeven is a “moderate” and recognize him for what he is – a senator lacking independence and just as ideologically right wing as Berg.