Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chris Van Hollen and Michigan

I know this has lots of other postings at other sites like Michigan Liberal. As has been posted here and on other Blogs Tim Walberg is a marked man. Today for the first time DCCC Chair, Chris Van Hollen specifically mentions Tim Walberg and the 7th District. This was first reported at Hotline on Call.


Friday, January 26, 2007

The world is after Michigan's 7th

As the DCCC sets it's sites on the 2008 elections it is clear that Tim Walberg will be targeted. The Swing State Project is sure aware of how vulnerable Walberg is. Over at MyDD Jonathan Singer posts about the growing interest in Michigan as the place to pick up seats in 08.
But the Michigan seat most clearly under the Democrats' gaze this year might be CD 7.
Even the DCCC's Blog has taken notice. There are at least two links to this Blog there.

In the Washington Post's Capital Briefs Blog there is talk of the DCCC's plan for 08. Paul Kane posts, DCCC MEMO: Sustaining Our Majority.

A. Staying on the Offense

As discussed in last week's memo, we are aggressively on offense and working to put a large number of Republican seats in play. We are in the process of targeting districts where Republicans won by less than 5%, seats won by Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election, districts occupied by ethically challenged incumbents and Republican seats likely to open. By challenging incumbent Republicans we can win additional seats and force them to expend resources defending their incumbents that would otherwise be directed at our most vulnerable members.

Tim Walberg and the 7th District fit this criteria.

Also, at the DCCC, Chris Van Hollen has announced his recruitment team.
Democrats have charged out of the gate by lining up a strong Recruitment Committee led by Congressman Artur Davis (AL-07). The team will include Russ Carnahan (MO-03), Mike Doyle (PA-14), Rahm Emanuel (IL-05), Steve Israel (NY-02), Ron Kind (WI-03), Jim Matheson (UT-02), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Mike Ross (AR-04), Tim Ryan (OH-17), Adam Schiff (CA-29), Hilda Solis (CA-32) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20).
These are the people that we need to keep updated on what is going on in Michigan's 7th.

All of our work will be pointless if we do not have a viable candidate in 2008.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Energy Bill - Walberg Votes No

In the final vote of the Democrats' 100 Hours promises prior to the election, the House of Representatives considered HR 6, the "CLEAN Energy Act of 2007" (as a side note-- I had previously complained about the national sales tax proposal being named the "FairTax," but it's not just Republican proposal names that bother me. "CLEAN" sounds great, but it should have a simple, descriptive, and neutral title. But, such is politics...) For a good explanation of what each portion of the bill would do, see the US House Digest description here, news coverage here, or the bill itself.

In short, the bill reduces oil industry subsidies (Steny Hoyer, D-MD says: "The oil industry doesn't need the taxpayers' help. ... There is not an American that goes to a gas pump that doesn't know that.") and seeks to fix an error that allowed oil companies to keep over $1 billion in royalties that would otherwise have gone to the government. It passed the House, 264-163.

Tim Walberg voted No. This time, 36 Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of the bill, while 4 Democrats voted against it. Among those joining the Democrats were Michigan Republicans Vern Ehlers (MI-03), Joe Knollenberg (MI-09), and Candice Miller (MI-10). Joining Walberg in opposition were the remaining Michigan Republicans, Peter Hoekstra (MI-02), Dave Camp (MI-04), Fred Upton (MI-06), Mike Rogers (MI-08), and Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11).

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Student Loan Interest Reduction - Walberg Votes Yes

Today, the House continued the 100 Hours agenda with the "College Student Relief Act of 2007," a bill which would reduce the interest rates on college loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over five years. The bill passed, 356-71. (News coverage here and here.)

Tim Walberg voted Yes! Breaking his pattern (and surprising me), Congressman Walberg joined his Democratic colleagues and 123 other Republicans in voting for the bill. In fact, only one member of the Michigan House delegation-- Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra-- voted against the bill. This is the first piece of major legislation on which Congressman Walberg has voted in favor.

With so much of the future dependent on a solid education, we ought to be opening as many opportunities for higher education as possible. I commend Congressman Walberg for finally supporting something other than tax cuts and gay bashing.

UPDATE: Oops! I've been so used to writing "Walberg Votes No" that I accidentally made that the title of the post. It's now corrected.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Walberg's Committee Assignments

The Daily Telegram has an article about Tim Walberg's committee assignments.
7th District Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, will serve on the House Agriculture Committee and the Education and Labor Committee.
It is very interesting that he would serve on Education and Labor after the news from my earlier post. This from Congressman Walberg,
“That’s how I lobbied the leadership because that is what my constituents wanted,” the freshman congressman said. “These are three key issues for my district.”
So key that he does not even know how many auto workers there are in the district. I have heard that when he served in the State House Walberg would not even talk to labor.

I have been very impressed by Congressman George Miller, Dem. California, who Chairs the Education and Labor Committee. His first act was to put Labor back in the name of the Committee. When Republicans took control in 94 they took Labor out and called it the Education and the Workforce Committee. Congressman Miller understands how important Labor is in this country. I'm sure Miller will keep Tim Walberg on a very short leash.

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Medicare Price Negotiation - Walberg Votes No

As the 100 Hours continue today, Democrats took up the issue of allowing Medicare to negotiate with prescription drug companies for lower prices. It's worth noting that private insurance does this already. Only Medicare is paying higher, un-negotiated prices. It allows the federal government to participate in the free market like any other economic player. The bill, HR 4, passed 255-170.

Tim Walberg voted No. This time, 24 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting yes, but the entire Republican delegation from Michigan voted against the bill. Democratic Congressman Sander Levin (MI-12) did not vote.

Just as an interesting side-note, the pharmaceutical industry contributed $10,172,305 to Republicans during the 2006 election cycle, or 69 percent of their total contributions. Since 1990, the industry has contributed $90,146,207 to Republicans, or about 67 percent of their contributions during the period. However, according to Open Secrets, Tim Walberg did not receive any contributions from the industry.

Did that have anything to do with the way they voted?

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stem Cell Research - Walberg Votes No

Just an off-topic side-note-- I like that the Democrats are in control, and I like that they're passing real, helpful legislation quickly. But for the lowly blogger trying to educate himself and put up thoughtful posts on the issues... this 100 Hours thing isn't working out. Thankfully, they take breaks on week-ends, so Saturday and Sunday, look for posts explaining the legislation they've been passing.

Also, check out Doug's post below on Iraq, and read the news reports he cites-- especially this one. The war in Iraq is probably the biggest issue of the day, and Tim Walberg's position reflects the views of about 12 percent of Americans.


Today, the House passed HR 3 by a vote of 253-174. This bill would allow greater use of federal funding in embryonic stem cell research. Former Congressman Joe Schwarz supports such research.

Tim Walberg voted No. As has been common the last few votes, a number of Republicans crossed the aisle to support the Democratic position-- this time, 37 of them, including Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06). Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak (MI-01) was one of 16 Democrats to vote no.

CNN has coverage. Also, go read Congressman Jim Langevin's (D-Rhode Island) statement on the issue. Langevin was a victim of an accidental shooting 26 years ago and is in a wheelchair. An excerpt:

“I am the first to admit that my understanding of stem cell research has involved ongoing education, thought and prayer. As a pro-life Member of Congress, I have not taken my decision to support this legislation lightly.

“Over the years, I had the good fortune to learn about stem cell research from some of America’s renowned scientists, pro-life leaders like Senator Orrin Hatch, and a dear friend who is certainly on my mind today – Christopher Reeve.

“I have come to support embryonic stem cell research, because I see how it can be done ethically. And I believe that being pro-life means fighting for legislation that will eliminate pain and suffering and help people enjoy longer, healthier lives. My support for embryonic stem cell research is entirely consistent with a pro-life position.
In other news, Congressman Walberg was named to the House Agriculture Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee.

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Bush, Schwarz, and Walberg on Iraq

The President addressed the nation last night and presented his new? plan for Iraq. 20,000 additional troops is crazy. Lets look at what our local politicians think of the plan.

In the Lansing State Journal, Tim Walberg says he agrees with the President.
Walberg said he favors the president's proposal because, "The majority of the people still want our United States forces to come home in victory."
What the heck does that mean? Yes, we want victory. I also want to win the lottery, but I don't sell off the home to buy tickets.

Senators Stabenow and Levin have it right.

Stabenow said Iraqi leaders won't take Bush's benchmarks seriously if at the same time, the United States sends more troops.

"The Iraqis need to step up and make the tough decisions necessary to govern their country," Stabenow said. "I am not convinced that escalating the number of troops will achieve that goal."

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, said he opposes any increase in troops.

"America supplying more troops while Iraqi leaders simply supply more promises is not a recipe for success in Iraq," he said.

Then in the Detroit News Walberg showed how out of touch he is.
Alone among the state's Republicans in offering unqualified support was newly elected Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton. "I like the strength of commitment to victory," he said.
Even Joe Schwarz who was more than happy to campaign on the fact that he had voted with Bush 80 - 85% of the time realizes the President has no plan. The Battle Creek Enquirer has the story about the Congressman's talk in Albion yesterday.
He said a troop surge would only result in more American troops dying, and a gradual withdrawal was necessary.
It is interesting how far Schwarz is distancing himself from the Administration.
(Bush Sr.'s administration) didn't want to get into an urban warfare situation in Baghdad," said Schwarz, who sat on the House Armed Services Committee. "Well, what's happened? ... There appears to have been no real policy. If there's no real policy, there's no real strategy. And if there's no strategy, you just kind of float out there in the ether."
As I posted yesterday I attended this event. I had a chance to talk to Congressman Schwarz after his presentation. I asked him why he had not been more vocal of his opposition to the President's policy in Iraq while he served. Schwarz said to me that he was in person and maybe he should have more publicly. Schwarz also said that he disagreed with John McCain who has called for even greater troop numbers than the President. Remember that Schwarz was the head of McCain's Michigan campaign when he ran for President in 2000.

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Michigan AFL-CIO criticizes Walberg

The Jackson Citizen Patriot has aninteresting article, Union raps Walberg.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg has drawn fire in his first days in office for voting against pork-barrel spending reforms and not knowing how many auto workers he represents in South Central Michigan.

Walberg, R-Tipton, told a C-SPAN reporter Thursday he "couldn't give you an exact number" of auto employees in the 7th District, adding the best way to help the ailing Big Three is to cut taxes.

"He should be ashamed of himself for not knowing that or having a general idea," said Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney.

I am very glad that Mark Gaffney is paying attention to the 7th. If we are to take back this district Labor support will be critical.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Minimum Wage Increase Passes - Walberg Votes No

Today, the House passed HR 2, 315-116. This would increase the current federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over two years.

Tim Walberg voted No. Once again, many Republicans crossed over to side with the Democrats in this vote-- 82, to be exact. Among them, Vern Ehlers (MI-03), Fred Upton (MI-06), Candice Miller (MI-10), and Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11). Michigan Republicans voting no (besides Congressman Walberg) were Peter Hoekstra (MI-02), Dave Camp (MI-04), and Mike Rogers (MI-08). Joe Knollenberg (MI-09) did not vote.

No big surprise, really. Walberg voted against raising Michigan's minimum wage plenty of times in the Michigan House.

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Joe Schwarz on Iraq

This will be a brief post. There should be more tomorrow in the Battle Creek Enquirer. Former Congressman Schwarz spoke in Albion this morning about his time in Washington. He spoke at great length about the situation in Iraq. Joe Schwarz was extremely critical of the Bush Administration's policy. Schwarz even said that there is no real policy.

As the President is about to announce a plan to increase our forces in Iraq, Joe Schwarz said that, "there is no future in Iraq militarily." He then stated his opinion that increasing forces by 20,000 will not make a difference.

I will be very interested to see what Andy Rathbun of the Enquirer writes about this.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

9/11 Commission Recommendations - Walberg Says No

In their first piece of major legislation in the Democrats' 100 Hours, HR 1 was passed, which would implement the remaining suggestions of the 9/11 Commission.

Congressman Tim Walberg voted No. The bill passed 299-128, with 68 Republicans crossing over and joining the Democrats. Among them, Michigan Republican representatives Dave Camp (MI-04), Fred Upton (MI-06), Mike Rogers (MI-08), Candice Miller (MI-10), and Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11).

UPDATE: The first time through, I forgot to include Dave Camp as crossing over (corrected above). Also, Joe Knollenberg didn't vote, meaning only three Michigan Republicans-- Tim Walberg, Vern Ehlers, and Peter Hoekstra voted no.

News coverage:
The Washington Post
USA Today

I'll have more about the bill and Walberg's position later.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Bush, Walberg, and Iraq?

President Bush is looking to increase troop strength in Iraq. Not sure where he got this idea. Does not seem to have much support. This from the Huffington Post,

"the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq conceded Sunday that a military "surge" escalation would not be enough to rescue Iraq"
The Republican Party seems to be fractured on what to do in Iraq. John McCain is on the same page as the president as both look to increase the number of troops in Iraq. Former General Wesley Clark thinks this is a mistake.
Without such fundamental change in Washington's approach, there is little hope that the troops surge, Iraqi promises and accompanying rhetoric will amount to anything other than "stay the course more". That wastes lives and time, perpetuates the appeal of the terrorists, and simply brings us closer to the showdown with Iran. And that will be a tragedy for not just Iraq but our friends in the region as well.
There is more and more evidence that the Republicans are split over what to do in Iraq. What does Mr. Walberg think? During the campaign he supported the President. Does he still? If you live in the 7th District write Tim Walberg and ask him what his position on Iraq is. Go to http://www.house.gov/writerep/ and fill in the form.

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Walberg supporter on swearing in ceremony

I ran across this post from a supporter of Tim Walberg. Some interesting comments.
Along the way we met Tony Bennett, Charlie Rangel and lots of other, mostly democrats. You'd think they won something significant the way they were acting.
I would say controll of the House and Senate is significant. Most importantly it made Tim insignificant.

Then there was this,
They just kept bringing food in. One platter after another after another. AWESOME..
I would like to ask Kathy who she thinks paid for this. It is fun to see what the other side thinks.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Walberg Announces Staff

Adrian's Daily Telegram reports today on Walberg's congressional staff choices in detail, and the Hillsdale Daily News gives us a brief summary of the names and positions. They print the following:

Marla Braun, constituent relations, and will be representing Walberg in Hillsdale, Calhoun, Eaton and Branch counties.

Keith Brown, field representative and agricultural liaison, in Hillsdale and Lenawee counties.

Ryan Boeskool, field representative, covering Eaton and Jackson counties.

Steve Dennison, grants and special projects coordinator and will specialize in grants and special projects, helping communities in the process of applying for federal grants and loans.

Mary Ann Duffy, constituent relations, will serve Jackson, Washtenaw and Lenawee counties with their interactions with the federal government.

Jill Larder, field representative in Washtenaw and Jackson counties.

Chris Simmons, field representative in Calhoun and Branch counties.

Joe Wicks, chief of staff, overseeing all operations both in the district and in Washington D.C.

Leeann Yamakawa, office coordinator, will assist with district scheduling and all office functions and duties.

Rick Baxter will be the district director and will oversee all district operations.

I wrote about Rick Baxter previously. Anyone know anything about the others on the list?

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New Rules - Walberg Voting Record

UPDATE: Oops! Didn't notice that Doug had already posted on Title IV below... Great minds think alike?

The first two days of the new Congress had little to do with governing the country, but were very important when it came to ethics and transparency in House activities. How did Congressman Walberg vote?

(Note: I'm not going to keep a record of every vote Walberg casts for the next two years. Many procedural votes-- like his first vote, in which every member votes "Present"-- aren't important enough to waste your time with. However, the votes on rules this week, while perhaps a little dull, are important reforms in the House).

- As would be expected, Congressman Walberg voted for John Boehner (R) for Speaker of the House. The vote followed party lines exactly, and Nancy Pelosi (D) won the election.

- Title II of HR 6: Walberg votes Yes. This bans all gifts and travel paid for by lobbyists and prohibits former members of the House from lobbying current members. Passed 430-1 (the only "no" was Dan Burton, R-IN).

- Title III of HR 6: Walberg votes Yes. This sets all voting periods at 15 minutes in length (a problem under the Republicans) and granted minority rights for conference reports. Passed 430-0.

- Title IV of HR 6: Walberg votes No. Now, for some of the controversial changes. For this description, I'll quote the US House Digest:
This one is a biggy. Two significant things were changed in this Title. First, the House agreed to publicly identify earmarks, or special-interest money and tax breaks often secretly inserted into legislation. This change makes it likely that we will see less and less pet projects. Or, at least, less than the near 10,000 in the 2006 budget. This won praise from even some Republican members, who were disappointed at their leadership’s inability to control government spending while they were in power.

Democrats had “more guts than we did to tackle earmark reform in a meaningful way,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) [Wiki].

Second, the House re-instated the “pay-as-you-go” rule. Basically, what PAYGO does is stop new tax cuts or new spending on “entitlement” programs unless those policy changes were paid for through tax hikes or other spending cuts. Therefore, if Congress wants to spend more, it has to raise taxes. If it wants to cut taxes, it has to cut spending. The PAYGO restrictions were a big part of how the U.S. got to a balanced budget in the 1990s. Alot of Republicans went along with this, so it passed 280-152.

To me, this seems like the sort of thing a "conservative" concerned about overspending would have supported. If earmarks are as awful as they are, why not have it publicly known who is inserting them into legislation? And why not have a little fiscal responsibility for a change with the PAYGO rules? Still, despite Walberg's No vote, it Passed 280-152.

- Title V of HR 6: Walberg votes No. Again, I turn to the US House Digest:
This was the Title for all the different rules Democrats wanted to make, but without really knowing how to classify them. The first section gives the minority more rights in deposing witnesses subpenoaed before a committee. The following two sections were technical changes to administrative positions, like the Director of National Intellegence. The following five sections to that, however, stirred up some debate on the floor. After pledging to reverse the Republican tradition of shutting the minority out of the legislative process, Democrats passed a set of exceptions for their priorities: the 9/11 commission recommendations, stem cell research, the minimum wage and prescription drugs. Democrats claimed the legislation they intend to present has already been discussed, and sometimes already voted on. Republicans replied that new members (of which there are more than usual) have not gotten the chance to have their voices heard. The remaining sections made some more technical changes, including banning lobbyists from entering the House gym. Every Republican was against this, but, as they will learn in their time as the minority party, they can have a rock solid caucus and still lose the vote. It passed 232-200, with three members not voting.
Yep, that's right-- Walberg voted against kicking lobbyists out of the House gym. The exceptions the Democrats passed are all part of their 100 Hours program, the idea being that they would give Republicans some of the minority rights that the GOP had denied Democrats after they had followed through on many of their campaign promises. Passed 232-200.

So, after two days in the House of Representatives, how has Walberg done?

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Congressman Walberg's first votes.

On his first full day as a Congressman Tim Walberg cast some lovely votes. The Washington Post has a nice article about the Pay As You Go rules that the House adopted.

On its second day under Democratic management, the House yesterday overwhelmingly approved new rules aimed at reining in deficit spending and shedding more light on the murky world of special-interest projects known as earmarks.

Under the new provisions, the House will for the first time in years be required to pay for any proposal to cut taxes or increase spending on the most expensive federal programs by raising taxes or cutting spending elsewhere. And lawmakers will be required to disclose the sponsors of earmarks, which are attached in virtual secrecy to legislation to direct money to favored interests or home-district projects.

Mr. Walberg voted against this rule. Title 4 of HR 6.

Also from the Post article.
The House voted 280 to 152 to approve the rules, which drew the support of 48 Republicans.
Title 4 also deals with Earmarks. I thought Tim had problems with Earmarks? During his debate with Joe Schwarz he complained about some of Joe's votes and listed items like The Bridge to Nowhere, and swimming pools. Now I know that these rules changes do not eliminate Earmarks, but they do let us know where they come from. This is a good first step.

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US House Resources

For those interested in following the happenings of the House (and Tim Walberg) more closely, here's a list of good resources. I'll be using these quite a lot, I suspect.

U.S. House Digest - An independent, nonpartisan blog offering summaries of the activities of each day.

Clerk of the House Floor Summary - A minute-by-minute diary of activity on the House floor. (Also, the Office of the Clerk's main website, here.)

The Daily Whipline - From new Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), a daily listing of votes, a timeline for debate, and information on bills.

The US Congress Votes Database by the Washington Post - A massive database of every vote by every member. Includes:
  • Timothy Walberg - A page dedicated to Walberg's voting activity.
  • Key Votes (Walberg) - A page listing how Congressman Walberg votes on important legislation (so far, there have been no key votes).
  • Vote Missers - A table showing how many times each representative has failed to show up to vote (so far, Walberg has not missed any votes).
  • 110th Congress: Bills - A list of bills introduced in the House.
Democracy is worthless if the citizens don't pay close attention to what their representatives are doing. This blog will try to provide information on Congressman Walberg's activities, but if we miss something (or you don't trust our analysis), these are the resources for educating yourself.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

New Congress News Roundup

A few news articles for your reading pleasure as we begin the 110th.


From the Jackson Citizen-Patriot, a few items of note:

Looks like the presidential quest isn't the only 2008 race abuzz in the blogosphere, punditocracy and Washington insider press.

Daily Kos, Inside Michigan Politics and Roll Call have deemed the 7th District congressional contest one of the hottest in the country -- and U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg,

R-Tipton, was sworn in only today.

"One of the hottest in the country"! And no, I don't mind that they didn't mention another blog that's interested in the race...

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz and lawyer Brad Smith are rumored Republican challengers. State Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, has swatted away speculation about his candidacy but is still considered his party's front-runner. And two-time Democratic nominee Sharon Renier says she's in.

As for Walberg, he says he's just focused on his new job.

But he does want to clear up one rumor about 2008.

"I'm not running" for president, he laughs.

Schauer's out (though, expect to see him pop up elsewhere after his term ends... he's a rising star in Michigan's Democratic Party), but there are plenty of strong candidates out there. Most interesting for me, I think, is the possibility of Brad Smith launching a primary challenge. Smith (son of former Congressman Nick Smith), though losing to Schwarz, got more votes in the 2004 primary than Walberg, and knows all the right people to run a campaign.

There are other things worth reading in the article, including a mention of a speech by Joe Schwarz and a Jackson Party fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

But, you know what? Congressman Walberg is right, he ought to be focusing on his job now, not the next election.

Walberg's Agenda

Once again, we turn to the Citizen-Patriot. What does Walberg hope to push in the new, Democratic Congress?
Michigan's only first-term congressman confirmed he plans to co-author legislation in line with his support of a flat tax and elimination of the Internal Revenue Service.
Ah, tax reform. I'm sure we'll be writing an awful lot about that over the next few weeks. Walberg has previously advocated the "FairTax" national sales tax, which would be about 23 percent on all goods and services. Never mind that lower-income families would pay proportionally more than upper-income families, or that, without the IRS (or similar agency), the burden of collecting the tax falls upon the state governments. And we all know that the state of Michigan has plenty of free time on its hands.
UPDATE: Cordelia at Michigan Liberal picked up on this as well, and offered this explanation of why the national sales tax is a bad idea. Once Congressman Walberg introduces a bill, I'm sure I'll have plenty of posts on the subject, but the short version is that taxes shouldn't be viewed as a punishment, but rather an investment in America. The amount you pay in ought to be based on ability to pay, and that's what the graduated income tax does.

For a different view, see Chad Sargent in the comments, and, out of fairness, www.FairTax.org. (Just one minor complaint: cute names like "FairTax" really bother me. Give it a simple, unbiased and descriptive name, like "National Sales Tax." This goes for both sides of the aisle.)

What do some of Walberg's supporters hope for?
That's the conviction supporter Kathy Potts is counting on. As vice president of Jackson Right to Life, Potts said she's confident Walberg will champion anti-abortion bills.
Will his anti-abortion proposals simply seek to outlaw abortion, or will he support the 95-10 initiative of Democrats for Life-- a plan of reforms to reduce abortion by 95 percent over the next ten years? We shall see.

Of course, since 45 percent of Americans want action on Iraq (according to a CBS poll), more than any other issue, it will certainly come up. What are Congressman Walberg's thoughts?

Walberg also will have to weigh in on the Iraq war -- whose unpopularity helped swing Congress to the Democrats in November's election. While Walberg supports President Bush's policies, he said he hasn't decided if sending more troops to Iraq is the best course to take.

The congressman said Saddam Hussein's hanging last week could be a "first step" to stabilizing democracy in the insurgent-infused country.

"Maybe it will be like the pardoning of Nixon by Gerald Ford with getting the issue off the scene," Walberg said. "Saddam Hussein is no longer the poster child of captivity and repression by outside forces."

Saddam Hussein... Richard Nixon? Well, not the connection I expected, but it's nice that Walberg has our 38th president on his mind.

Still, as the article observes:
However, most of his work will probably be voting on the Democrats' first 100-hours agenda, which includes hiking the minimum wage and cutting student loan rates.
... which brings us to:

The Democratic Agenda

Here's what the new Democratic leadership has planned:

Democrats say the first 100 hours will emphasize protecting middle-class jobs, pushing health care reforms, breaking the ties between lobbyists and lawmakers and investigating the Bush administration's relationship with big corporations.

At the top of the legislative agenda are:

  • raising the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour;
  • banning lobbyists from providing free meals and gifts to members of Congress;
  • slicing interest rates on college student loans in half;
  • allowing federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research; and
  • repealing federal tax breaks for the oil industry.
  • "We need to end subsidies for Big Oil," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee. "The money should go into renewable fuels instead."

    Republicans call the 100-hour legislative agenda a publicity trick, noting that the Democratic leadership has failed to disclose any details about what's in the legislation. And even if bills are approved, they predict, it's likely President Bush will veto many of them.

    It'll be interesting to see how Congressman Walberg votes on all of these, considering how he voted in the Michigan House.

    Ethics: The First Complaint

    Jay in the comments shares this:

    [from Gongwer News Service]
    It appears U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) can expect supporters of former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz to be watching his every move. Mr. Walberg was the subject of a complaint filed this week over his use of the House seal for what the complainant argues is a campaign event.

    Law student Eric Weiler of Southfield, who worked for Mr. Schwarz in 2004 and 2005 but said he was not involved with the bitter campaign this past year, filed the complaint with the U.S. House ethics panel that Mr. Walberg was improperly using both the seal and his office space for a swearing in celebration Thursday.

    The problem, Mr. Weiler said, is Mr. Walberg’s campaign committee paying for an event that is announced with an invitation bearing the seal and held in the representative’s office.

    “I want to either bring some attention to this or see that Rep.-elect Walberg is investigated for this,” Mr. Weiler told Gongwer News Service.

    “You will note that the invitations have been disseminated electronically by partisan political organizations at the behest of Representative-elect Walberg,” Mr. Weiler said in his letter to the ethics commit-tee. “By virtue of this fact, and that the invitations bear the disclaimer of Representative-elect Walberg’s campaign committee, it is clear that the reception is political in nature, and that Representative-elect Walberg is misusing official House resources to both promote and conduct the event.”

    Joe Wicks, spokesperson for Mr. Walberg, said there was no violation because the invitation did not, in fact, contain the official U.S. House seal. “The official seal contains e pluribus unim; ours doesn’t,” he said.

    House Ethics Committee doesn't like folks tiptoeing around the House seal. If it looks official enough, (and given the current anti-corruption climate)they will come down on Walberg--fine most likely.-jay
    For other coverage, here's the Lansing State Journal's article.

    It's not the right foot to get started on, but I'm sure Congressman Walberg and his staff will be careful as they go forward.

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    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    And so it begins...

    Congratulations to Congressman Tim Walberg, the new representative of Michigan's 7th District! Although we disagree with your policies and hope to unseat you during the next election, I sincerely hope and expect that you serve honorably and with integrity. You are a member of the United States House of Representatives, and proof of the value of our democratic government. Your election, though close and filled with negativity on both sides, was an admirable achievement. Good luck in your term in office.

    Congratulations also to ex-Congressman Joe Schwarz, who served his district well, and for every other winner and loser from the 2006 elections. And congratulations to Nancy Pelosi, who has become the first woman Speaker of the House. Good luck to you in your advocacy of Democratic policies and ideals, which, with the support of a grateful nation, will improve the quality of life in America. Good luck to all members of the 110th Congress!

    All of these people (and the voters, too) are evidence of the strength of the country. From John Dingell and John Conyers to Tim Walberg, our state and nation are filled with men and women who sacrifice much to serve the people. Let's all take a moment to appreciate their contributions-- not a bipartisan moment, but a nonpartisan moment. Thank you to everyone.

    Now, forward we go!

    There has been some discussion in the comments that I'd like to address, if I might. The contributors to this blog are primarily Democrats, and our partisan spirit is strong. But that's not a bad thing. We advocate the positions we feel are best for the country, and hope to oppose Tim Walberg, a Republican whose policy positions are damaging to the country. We don't do it out of hate, we do it in the spirit of accountability-- something that's been sadly lacking in recent years.

    If we question Congressman Walberg's votes in Congress, that doesn't make us "foolish partisans." If we question his ethics, that doesn't make our posts "hate filled rants." If we hope to attract support from moderate Republicans, we don't need to hide our Democratic beliefs-- I sincerely hope that the partisan divide isn't so great that we can't find some common ground. We simply want the best representation we can get, and will point out the flaws as we see them.

    From time to time, rhetoric has and will be a little harsh, but only because of the passion we have for the causes we support. But Republicans and members of any and all party are welcome to participate in the dialogue in the comments, and individuals who oppose Walberg (as that's the stated goal of the website) are welcome to contribute regardless of party affiliation.

    Frankly, some of the comments recently bothered me. I'm not a partisan hack out to ruin a good man's reputation, and no one else on this blog is, either. I hope I've satisfied some of the commenters as to our honorable intentions. If not, well, such is life.

    Congratulations, Congressman Walberg. I look forward to watching your victories, your defeats, and every moment in between.


    Even Republicans trash Walberg

    On the day that Tim Walberg joins Congress there was an interesting comment on a previous post. I do not know who this anonymous person is, but I think his/her comments are important and I am posting them for everyone to see. I would like for this person to come forward and let us know who he/she is. Maybe you can become a regular contributor.

    Anonymous said...

    Walberg is not only a radical right wing politician, he is also a prime example of what is wrong with politics. He drags his opponents into the mud, steps back, quotes scripture, and sneaks his way into office pandering to the radical right. Look at the issues you brought up, soc. sec., ANWR, fairtax and federal spending.

    Those are main stream issues, with debates raging inside and outside of the GOP. The hell-or-highway tactics of how those issues are represented are crazy.

    The President came out of left field and blindsided Congress on social security reform. No talking, just a massive reform of a program which people have been accounting for in their retirements for their entire working lives. The cost was HUGE, no plan to pay for it, the risk was uncalculated market performace, and it died a quick death. It is worth a look, but I don't trust anyone who wants to fall lock-step with that strategy as Walberg promised to do. If Rush or Hannity say it on the radio, it does not make it true.

    There are some of us Republicans who believe the environment is worth saving and 4-6 months of current US oil consumption (finally ready for consumption in 10-20 years) is not worth the risk. It is called a debate, unless you are so dense as to think it can be dumbed down to a single sentence soundbite.

    Fairtax? Is that what they are calling a national sales tax now? If you ever get a chance to read about that one, or better yet, get a cup of coffee with one of their supporters, do it. It is all so simple isn't it? Only a few minor details to consider. We are talking about a radical change to every single business in the country. All based on thory and economist studies, which are by their own admission, theory. At the end of the pitch, the Fairtax supporter is totally dumbfounded if you have any questions, it is soooo simple, right? Won't you sign my petition to urge your Congressman to support it?

    And, finally, federal spending. What was Walberg's solution to the problem? Simple, right, end earmarks. He toed that line all the way to victory. Then, you open up the paper one day and read that he will support earmarks that are "worthy." I say liar, you might get away with "flip-flopper."

    That was Walberg's campaign. Serious issues? Give 'em a soundbite. Ultra-conservative, froth-at-the-mouth, right wing issues? Talk ad nauseum about how God called you to serve in Congress to fix this messed up world.

    He is focused on right wing issues and he brags he will get something accomplished. On the other 99% of topics, he is happy to recite talking points yammered out by the talking radio goons. He is shallow and the trainwreck left the station as the 110th Congress was sworn in.

    The only question in my mind is who will step up to challenge him, and if no one in my party will do it, I will vote for a democrat or independant/ third party candidate.

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    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    On Walberg and The New Year

    Happy New Year! I've got a few items that I'll take care of in just one post.
    • Congressman-elect Walberg will become Congressman Walberg tomorrow. The Detroit Free Press has published his (and every other Michigan congress-critter's) contact information in Washington:
    Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton
    (202) 225-6276
    325 Cannon, Washington, D.C. 20515
    • An interesting (and anonymous) comment on Doug's last post:
    Walberg is by no means a radical right winger...anymore than Schwarz was a radical left winger. In reality he is right of center...Schwarz was a moderate. As much as you blowhards don't like to admit it Michigan's 7th is a conservative district and Tim Walberg better represents his constituents values. We all know full well that issues of gay marriage and abortion aren't going be resolved in the US House so why do you all get so bent out of shape by his positions...he's a preacher for God's sake, I wouldn't expect him to take any other stance. He is indeed a conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan. Schwarz was on the opposite side of many issues that were important to voters...Social Security, ANWR, Fair Tax, federal spending, etc, etc. His election in 04 was a fluke and now, like it was with Nick Smith, the district has returned a solid conservative to DC.
    Well, where to begin?

    First: "As much as you blowhards don't like to admit it Michigan's 7th is a conservative district and Tim Walberg better represents his constituents values." The district certainly isn't liberal, no. But, as Doug pointed in his comment, Granholm carried the district, and John Kerry, that "Massachusetts liberal," got 45 percent of the vote. I can't cite any polling data for just the district, but I've got plenty of anecdotal evidence telling me that folks around here support embryonic stem cell research, a fair minimum wage, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, an exit strategy from Iraq, and a host of other issues on which Walberg is out of step. Or, here's another way of looking at it: if Walberg were so good for the district, why did an unknown chicken farmer with $50,000 make this the closest race in the state?

    On social issues, the commenter says: "so why do you all get so bent out of shape by his positions...he's a preacher for God's sake, I wouldn't expect him to take any other stance." Why does it matter? For one, being a preacher doesn't make you conservative. Being a preacher doesn't make you intolerant of other lifestyles or make you get support from intolerant people or racist groups.

    Lastly: "He is indeed a conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan." Okay, let's talk Reagan. Lots of people like Ronald Reagan. Whatever I might think of his job performance, he was a likable guy. But conservative? How about the national debt, which went from $930 billion in 1980 to $3.2 trillion after 8 years of Reagan and two years of George H.W. Bush (an 11% growth in 1981-1985, and 9% in 1985-1989)? Cutting taxes while increasing spending doesn't make you conservative.

    Hrm. That ended up being longer than I expected... sorry for the rant. The short version is: Walberg is wrong for the district, wrong for the country, and deserves some watching.
    • Finally, plans for the new year and 110th Congress: I shared these ideas/goals with the other bloggers that've signed on with Walberg Watch. Some might take a bit of work, but I'm confident that we can provide fair (if critical) coverage of Tim Walberg's term. Interested in finding a way to help? Any ideas of your own?
    - During the 110th Congress, have a post written summarizing major pieces of legislation and an explanation of Walberg's position before the House votes on the bill, perhaps with calls to action for writing/calling Walberg's office.

    - When candidates start announcing, let's try to get candidate interviews on the blog. Nirmal did one with Sharon Renier on his own site, and it'd be great if, going into the primary and the general election in 2008, we had each of the candidates talk to us. That includes Republican challengers and Tim Walberg, if they're interested. There's nothing wrong with a little dialogue.

    - I've always thought it'd be great if I could get a few guest essays by people in some way connected to or interested in the race. This could include internet activists and bloggers, journalists, Democratic leaders, and even moderate Republicans turned off by Walberg.

    - During campaign season, when they start holding debates, we should try to have at least one of us (or some enthusiastic volunteer) present to give a good post-debate report. It'd be even better if we had video, but that's beyond my technological expertise.

    - Similarly, if a candidate holds a kick-off event or some other event of interest, someone should be there to cover it. Again, video would be a plus.


    Tim Walberg already under attack

    In an article that was posted at examiner.com, Ken Thomas of The Associated Press writes about Tim. Walberg is trying to associate himself with Ronald Reagan.
    Tim Walberg considers himself a Republican in the mold of Ronald Reagan: a believer in limited government, low taxes and conservative values.

    In his opinion, the late president wouldn't be too pleased with Republicans lately.

    You are so right Tim. Reagan would never approve of the Schiavo vote or Republicans stand on Stem Cells. I wonder if Nancy Reagan approves of Walberg using her late husbands name when he would never support one of her top issues, Stem Cell research.

    This comment is interesting.
    I think you're going to see a resurgence of those issues that Tim talked about in the campaign," said Jessica Echard, executive director of the Eagle Forum, a conservative group.

    She said one advantage of being in the minority is that "you're more able to shout the loudest about your beliefs because you're not burdened with governing."

    As a constituent I sure am glad that I have a Representative who is, not burdened with governing. Tim you go right ahead and shout your beliefs. As a freshman in the minority, no one will hear you.

    This is what he plans to do,
    Walberg said he hopes to spur Democrats to make changes to legislation that will be more favorable to conservatives. And part of the approach involves engaging conservatives across the country, taking a cue from Reagan.
    No Democrat will talk to you unless you are going to vote with them and that is not going to happen. Mr. Walberg in case you are not aware there is a huge difference in the power of a president and that of a freshman Congressman. I'm sure the Republican leadership, who all supported Schwarz, will appreciate you coming in and telling them what to do.

    Bring on 2008



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