Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tim Walberg's First Three Months in Office

First was the Walberg Watch report, now the one that matters...

On January 4, 2007, Timothy Walberg (R-Tipton) was sworn in as the new representative of Michigan's 7th Congressional District. Tomorrow is April 4, 2007, and Congressman Walberg will have completed the first three months of his term in office, or roughly one-eighth of his term.

Here's a summary of how his term has gone so far. Later, I'll go through and add hyperlinks to support everything I've listed. For the moment, however, this should be a good resource for anyone looking to oppose Congressman Walberg in 2008 (hint, hint), or if you're going to his town hall meeting in Adrian tonight (HINT, HINT!). Lots of questions you could come up with from all this.

Voting Record

For a complete voting record, see the Washington Post “Votes Database”— http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/w000798/

Walberg voted No on making the earmarking process more transparent and on PAYGO rules, which would require new spending to have some source of funding to pay for it.

Walberg voted No on implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Walberg voted No on raising the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade.

Walberg voted No on allowing federal funding for stem cell research—an issue for which former Congressman Joe Schwarz was a passionate advocate.

Walberg voted No on allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Walberg voted No on reducing subsidies for already profitable oil companies and fixing an error in royalties, which will save the government $1 billion.

Walberg voted No on a resolution expressing the House of Representatives' disapproval of President Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq. In other words, Walberg voted to support the escalation.

Walberg voted No on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which increases protection for those federal employees that expose mismanagement and abuse.

Walberg voted No on the Accountability in Contracting Act, which adds transparency to the process of awarding federal contracts to private companies.

Walberg voted No on authorizing increased federal funds for housing for low-income victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Walberg voted No on a supplemental spending bill for the war in Iraq, which included a target date for withdrawal of American combat troops.

Walberg voted No on improving security for the country's rail and public transportation systems.

Walberg voted No on a plan for the 2008 Federal Budget, which would result in a federal surplus by 2012. Indeed, Walberg went so far as to mischaracterize the bill as a "$400 billion tax increase," when in fact it raises no taxes. Instead, the bill merely assumes the temporary Bush tax cuts will expire in 2010, as the cuts were designed to do when a Republican-led House of Representatives passed them.

Bills Sponsored

So far, Walberg has only sponsored one bill—H. Res. 225—to congratulate Jackson native Tony Dungy on leading the Indianapolis Colts to victory in the Super Bowl. The bill has yet to be scheduled for debate.

Issue Advocacy

What issues have been Congressman Walberg’s top priorities?

Building the Republican brand

For the conservative website Townhall.com, Congressman Walberg wrote an essay in which he outlined his plans for leading the Republican Party to electoral success. Included in the essay was support for privatizing Social Security.

Mixing Religion and Politics

In an interview with World magazine, Walberg said that, to him, “Politics is just another format that can be used as a place of intentional ministry.” Since then, he has also joined the “Congressional Prayer Caucus.”

What issues have been neglected?


Congressman Walberg’s official House website contains explanations of his positions on various issues. Under “Agriculture,” one can read:

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I look forward to meeting with and addressing the needs of south-central Michigan farmers.

… And that’s all.


With no official position listed on his House website, Walberg has largely ignored environmental issues. Although he was part of a larger group working toward Great Lakes restoration, Congressman Walberg supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has made no public statements on global warming—indeed, in a recent poll of members of Congress, 84 percent of Republican lawmakers denied that human activities were a factor in climate change.

Health Care

Regularly one of the top issues for voters—as has even been observed by Congressman Walberg—health care has received very little attention.

Voting against a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, Walberg wrote an op-ed in which he dismissed the plan as a step toward socialized medicine. However, his only action on the issue was a brief message encouraging people to donate blood—a legitimate message, but hardly a step toward solving the country’s health care crisis.

Media Attention

What kind of attention has Congressman Walberg received?

Iraq and Detroit

Claiming to be speaking for returning soldiers, Walberg said that “…80 to 85% in a conservative fashion, of the country [Iraq] is reasonably under control at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cites.”

This comparison prompted considerable criticism, including suggestions of racist motivations. He attempted to defend his comments:

“There was nothing racist about it,” Walberg said. “I meant it as a compliment to people in Detroit and Chicago. Aren’t there white people in Chicago? Aren’t there white people in Detroit?

(Emphasis added.)

The incident has helped Walberg gain the attention of news media across the country, including CNN’s The Situation Room and Fox News, and he was mocked by Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report.

In response to his comments, the Port Huron Times Herald published an editorial refuting his assertions. An excerpt:

Then there's another point: Walberg is wrong. Flat wrong.

Iraq is not like Chicago. It is not like Detroit.

In the four years since the war began, 1,576 people have died violently in Detroit. About the same number have died in Iraq thus far this month.

Detroit is measurably less violent than it was a decade ago. The opposite is true in Iraq, where the number of civilian deaths and bombing attacks have risen sharply in the past year. By summer, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will exceed the size of the original invasion force in 2003.

It is worrisome that a member of Congress, even a novice member, could be so out of touch with reality. It raises a question: Was Walberg merely shilling for the president and peddling false hope about a war gone wrong, or is he really this dense?

(Emphasis added.)

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I called his Washington office yesterday and demanded to know why he was only visitng the district for one day during this "District Work break", and why he was ignoring Washtenaw County. Strangely, there was no one there, all I got was an answering machine. Thanks for the list, though, I will have it with me if and when he feels courageous enough to see his constituents.
As far as I can tell he's only ventured West of 127 since once since taking office. Does he know that Branch, Calhoun and Eaton Counties are in his district?
Walberg has recently touted a plan to overhaul No Child Left Behind. I think it was a Hoekstra bill which Walberg has co-sponsored. Anyway, beware his "pro" education stance.

Walberg wants to abolish the Department of Education. He was a major backer of the school voucher program pushed by the DeVos's. He was heavily supported by homeschool networks around the country for his past stances on education. He advocated vouchers for home schooling your own kids. He constantly voted against education budgets in the state. If he had his way, the only schools left would be religious schools and only the rich would be reading and writing.
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