Saturday, September 08, 2007

September 9 - 15

I won't be blogging for the next week or so, which means that Walberg Watch will go kinda quiet until September 16. My fellow bloggers are certainly free to post, but since I tend to be the most frequent author, I thought I'd mention that I won't be active for a little while.

I've got a few things for you all to discuss, of course, to keep this place active. First up, Tim Walberg's newest legislative adventure!


On June 28, 2007, Congressman Walberg introduced HR 2948. Here's the text:

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permit health insurance to be purchased from a health savings account.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the `Increased Access to Health Insurance Act of 2007'.


    (a) In General- Paragraph (2) of section 223(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (defining qualified medical expenses) is amended to read as follows:
      `(2) QUALIFIED MEDICAL EXPENSES- The term `qualified medical expenses' means, with respect to an account beneficiary, amounts paid by such beneficiary for medical care (as defined in section 213(d)) for such individual, the spouse of such individual, and any dependent (as defined in section 152, determined without regard to subsections (b)(1), (b)(2), and (d)(1)(B) thereof) of such individual, but only to the extent such amounts are not compensated for by insurance or otherwise.'.
    (b) Effective Date- The amendment made by this section shall apply with respect to insurance purchased after the date of the enactment of this Act in taxable years beginning after such date.
The short version is, he wants you to be able to purchase health insurance using money in a health savings account. I was in the process of doing some research on this, but if there are any health care professionals out there, I hope you'll share your knowledge with us. What would be the result of Walberg's bill? Could this help anything, or would it make things worse?


Next, everyone's favorite Republican blogger, Joe Sylvester, stopped by on the last post and shared a link with us. For those that have forgotten, I wrote a bit about his blog here. I'm not going to say anything more about it, because I don't want this to turn into some pathetic blog feud... I'd like to think I'm better than that, and I hope Joe is too.

Anyway, it looks like Joe is tired of seeing us "left wing nutjobs" having all the fun, and he even mentioned Walberg Watch by name. He wants to start a new blog called "Democrat Primary Watch." Never mind that he used the wrong word (English teachers agree, it's "Democratic"). Citing Ken Brock's statements that caused quite a stir, he wants to have this new blog watch Democratic candidates in the 7th, while criticizing their every move and describing how wonderful Congressman Tim Walberg is.

I say, the more the merrier, and I hope that whenever this new blog gets started, you'll all check it out. And if the writing is good, they're respectful, the criticism is fair and intellectually honest, and the authors are willing to admit that sometimes, Tim Walberg can be wrong too, I might even give up blogging here and ask to join them.

Of course, I suspect that I'll be sticking around Walberg Watch for a little while longer. But that's just a hunch.


I've been working on a series of videos, eventually intended for YouTube, which showcase some of Congressman Walberg's extreme positions and whatnot, mostly using actual quotes. If you've got an issue for which you definitely want me to create a video, or you want to help, e-mail me. And if you've got a really outrageous Walberg quote (with a legitimate source), send me that, too.


Hopefully that'll be enough to keep you busy, and I hope you'll mention any news in the comments. It's not going to be easy to contact me for the next week, so any e-mails might go unanswered.

In the meantime, consider this an open thread.

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It appears that Walberg's legislation will just allow people who have HSAs to be able to use money they saved in the HSA to purchase health insurace (HSAs are all pre-tax money, that is they are not counted against your income); so let's say if somebody has an HSA and they get laid off or take a month or two off before finding another job they are able to use HSA money to purchase their health insurance. It appears that it will help make health savings accounts more flexible for the users and will be a net positive (especially being HSA money is already your own). It appears this is a correction in the deficiency of current law...


Tim Walberg finally weighed in on the AMTRAK issue.

He says he supports it, he's expressed his opinion in a snazzy letter to the editor...but will he vote for it? Will he show up at any meetings in the area?

In Walbergs logic, that simple act has saved AMTRAK and all the jobs that go with it...what a guy!

Film at 11:00
I looked at Walberg's letter in the Enquirer. The reader comments say it all, they cut him no slack and express the same sentiment.

He supports AMTRAK in the same way he supported the Kellogg Airport. Apparently, "support" doesn't mean he is "for" it.

What a political hack!
Currently HSA funds can be used to maintain insurance if one is collecting unemployment during the loss of a job. Allowing funds to be used to pay for insurance without the current restrictions would be a good idea however a better idea would be to allow those that buy indivdual coverage to be able to deduct the preimums off their taxes as businesses and self employed people can. Under current law those who really have to work for a living and earn a paycheck like myself pay 40.3% more for their health insurance if that person is in the 25% income tax bracket at the federal level, 25.3% more if you are at the poverty level of the income scale, then those who own and run businesses because business can fully deduct their primiums off their taxable income. Allowing HSAs to be used to pay for the primimums is a good idea however the loss of tax free growth over many years would be more costly in the long run and would deplete HSA savings and the growth on that savings which would be better used during a time in your life when you have real medical expenses. This is really true for those that are younger. For those in their 20s and 30s you are far better off paying for insurance out of your taxable income rather then giving up that tax free growth. The average premimum of $1200 per year on that age group being paid from an HSA tax free is really costing one $3000 in lost growth over 20 years on just the first $1200 taken out. NO it would be better to allow indivduals to deduct off their taxes the costs of the premimums and give tax credits to those low income to buy their own insurance if employers dont provide it. Thats the real reason why the government doesnt want people covered. Currently the government recieves much more in tax money by not haveing people covered. This is what needs to change.
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It appears he did vote for funding, did a little research over at It appears there were three amendment votes to slash funding to Amtrak (H. Amdt. 599, 600, & 601), all sought to cut funding by $106 mil., $475 mil, & $425 mil (2 Flake Amendments and one from crazy Bachmann from MN - Walberg voted against each of these amendments to preserve funding for Amtrak. Got to give Walberg credit where credit is due (and this was a month before all the news of the transfer)...[1-46](Amendments_For_H.R.3074)&./temp/~bdSoao
Not sure how to post a long html on here, so if you go to: search for H.R. 3074 and click on Amendments and there are the three amendments votes.

I just really think we need to find actual votes to use against him, and not get blindsided by not having the facts to back up taking him on.
HSA's are great if you can afford to start one. They are really cool if you can understand all the technical hurdles of how to use one.

HSA's were not created for low income households. HSA's were not created to be simple enough for the average Joe to understand.

HSA's are a tax shelter for upper-income, white-collar Americans. Basically, if you can afford to sock money away in a special account, up to 5,000 of medical spending can be 100% tax free. That is, the first 5,000 dollars of health care for the rich is tax free with an HSA.

Poor people don't benefit. And, with Walberg's changes, poor people won't benefit. Don't give him credit for this bill unless you explain that it really is just an extension of a tax shelter for upper income Americans and likely will do nothing to help anyone actually afford health insurance nor will it likely increase health care services, but it will cut taxes for the wealthy.
First off, HASs are limited to a max amount on an individual basis of $2850 for tax year 2007. That will go to $2900 for tax year 2008 and is tied to inflation rounded to the nearest $50. After age 55 there are catchup provisions gradually incresing to an additional $1000 in tax year 2009 and beyond.

HSAs are derived for the former MSA pilot program which was to help SELF EMPLOYED people and individuals who buy their own insurance who work for companies that employeed less then 50 and provided no health coverage what so ever. Prior to MSAs and HSAs self employed people couldnt deduct off their taxes their health insurance costs unless it exceded 7.5% of their gross annual income. The rich and well off have ALWAYS been able to pay for first dollar coverage in healthcare income tax and payroll tax free. Thats how the law was codified in 1956 and how the IRS enforces it. This codification is what led to the income tax exemption for the employee and employer if the company owner (RICH) paid for it. And what led to employer based health care coverage. Today employers arent shelling out thousands of dollars in primiums to save on the taxes.

To say that HSAs were not created to be simple enough for the average Joe to understand and that
HSA's are a tax shelter for upper-income, white-collar Americans is insulting.

I am highschool educated and work as a lowly cook. My employer refuses to provide any healthcare of any kind...either because its 4 times more expensive then it is for me to get it on my own or because they are too lazy as most college educated people who dont have to work for a living are.

I pay $130 a month out of pocket for my health insurance in the third most expensive state in the country. I put away as much as I can into my HSA every year trying to max it out. I currenty have $5750 in total saved in my HSA. I would be consider just above low income.

HSAs were targeted for the middle class (whats left of it) and those that are lower income who care enough about themselves to reilize that health insurance is important.

They are not hard to understand. If you can understand personal responsibility then you can understand HSAs. But I know as Ive seen from my many travels to the Lower 48, personal responsibility isnt in the Lower 48 mantality. Everyone down there is looking to someone else to point the finger at as to why they cant strive to be better then they truly are.
Irrespective of how he voted on various amendments, records that Walberg voted NO on the final version of HR 3074, "Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes." That is the bill that would fund Amtrak operations for FY 2007-2008. If you go to and enter "amtrak" in the search box, you will get a number of actions taken this session on bills affecting Amtrak, but the big one is 3074 in the House.
well... I think that is all that is wrong with politics, these huge bills with a ton of stuff in them and you support specific portions (with specific votes to back it up like in this case) and people go after you for voting against specific items even though the person voted for/fought for a specific portion of the bill. That's why there are amendment votes, so you know where people stand. Going after somebody on this, is all that is wrong with politics. Irrespective of your partisan stripes... Bottom line, you're not being honest...
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