Saturday, June 30, 2007

Second Quarter Fundraising Expectations

In about 5 minutes, June will be over, and the second quarter for political fundraising will be complete. Most eyes will be on the presidential race-- Will Barack Obama outraise Hillary Clinton? How much of his own money will Mitt Romney have spent?

But not me. I'll be eagerly awaiting the filings from candidates in Michigan's 7th Congressional District.

So here's how it's looking:

Tim Walberg: Walberg has to raise plenty of money. He's an incumbent, so it's hard not to, but anything short of a phenomenal second quarter will spark some press speculation and some DCCC and MDP press releases about how weak he is as a candidate. Really, he's got to beat the $148,000 he got last time around, and by a lot. After all, he still wants to scare Joe Schwarz off, right?

The Democrats

Sharon Renier: Unless I missed it somewhere, Sharon Renier hasn't filed with the FEC yet, and doesn't have a campaign apparatus in place for fundraising. So she doesn't need to do anything. But if both Nacht and Berryman post strong numbers, will she still run again? After all, she never broke $60,000 for the entire 2006 cycle.

David Nacht: A prolific commenter named Kyle Sutton has posted this in a few different places:
Without an appropriate heading, I have posted this here and under other stories. I have heard that David Nacht has raised $155,000 this past quarter, making him a very serious contender for the '08 election. This is exactly what the Dems need in a challenger who is going to face Walberg. Walberg has made this race very, very winnable for Democrats, but it will take some financial backing to do so. In raising this money, Nacht has proven himself able to garner the necessary backing. Add that to his impressive resume (working for John Glenn, graduating from U of M and Harvard, unseating a Republican township board, etc.) already featured on the site and you have a very strong candidate.
(Emphasis added.)

Absolutely, yes! If Nacht raised that much-- more than Walberg raised in the first quarter-- it'll put him in a solid place for both the primary and the general election, so long as he keeps it up.

That is, if Kyle is right. If he's wrong, than it's unrealistically raising our expectations, and anything short of that will seem like a disappointment and failure (see: Bill Richardson claiming to outraise John Edwards, and then not). I don't know what kind of connections he has (or if he'd care to elaborate), but this would be a big deal if Nacht raised $155,000.

Jim Berryman: The only way it wouldn't be a big deal for Nacht to raise $155,000 would be if Jim Berryman were to raise even more. I haven't got the foggiest idea where he might be at right now. But here's what he said prior to announcing his candidacy:
Former state Sen. Jim Berryman of Adrian said he has begun talking with supporters to see if he can raise the $2 million to $3 million necessary to challenge the freshman lawmaker.
(Emphasis added.)

With talk like that, a strong second quarter total-- certainly $100,000 or more-- would seem important.

Of course, regardless of what anyone raises, that doesn't mean anything if it doesn't translate into votes. In 2006, both Tim Walberg and Sharon Renier were outraised by other candidates for their respective nominations.

Over the next couple of weeks, FEC filings should become available and I'll post all the data. If any campaigns want to give me a sneak peak at their numbers, feel free.

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Walberg Opposes the Fairness Doctrine

Here's the latest news item from Tim Walberg's House website:
Washington, Jun 28 - U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) today will speak at a press conference to discuss an amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used by the Federal Communications Commission to impose the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters.

Congressman Walberg is also an original co-sponsor of the Broadcasters Freedom Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN), which would prevent reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.
Walberg doesn't like the Fairness Doctrine. Interesting. Let's take a closer look...

The Fairness Doctrine called for broadcast media to air both (or all) sides of controversial issues when discussing them, in an effort to better inform the public. In addition, subjects of personal attacks were to be notified within a week of that attack taking place and be given equal time to respond on air. A similar rule existed for political editorials and endorsements.

After a series of court cases and some criticism, the Federal Communications Commission began to phase out the doctrine in the mid-1980s. By 2000, the corollary rules about personal attacks and editorials were the last pieces that remained, and the FCC unceremoniously decided to stop enforcing those rules.

So did the Fairness Doctrine dampen free speech, as critics claimed? Well, yes, a little. Does that mean it was unconstitutional? No.

From (a great resource for Supreme Court rulings), here's the result of the 1969 case Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC.
In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the fairness doctrine was consistent with the First Amendment. Writing for the Court, Justice White argued that spectrum scarcity made it "idle to posit an unabridgeable First Amendment right to broadcast comparable to the right of every individual to speak, write, or publish." The Court held that the FCC's fairness doctrine regulations enhanced rather than infringed the freedoms of speech protected under the First Amendment. With respect to the regulation of personal attacks made in the context of public issue debates, the FCC's requirement that the subject of the attack be provided with a tape, transcript, or broadcast summary, as well as an opportunity to respond without having to prove an inability to pay for the "air-time," insured a balanced and open discussion of contested issues. The requirement that political editorializing be presented for and against both sides of the debated issues also contributed to the balanced discussion of public concerns.
In other words, since no one "owns" the electromagnetic spectrum (or the radio-wave portion of it), it is a public commodity that the federal government can regulate. Since it can regulate it, equal time for opposing opinions on controversial issues is in the public interest, and the doctrine was upheld. Later rulings included reservations about the Fairness Doctrine and its application, but the concept as a whole still stands. It's just no longer enforced by the FCC.

That's the history. So does Tim Walberg, constitutional scholar, oppose reinstating the Fairness Doctrine on First Amendment grounds? No.

Here's what Congressman Walberg said:
“We are discussing whether or not we should reinstate a piece of legislation entitled the Fairness Doctrine. Ironically enough, the year the Fairness Doctrine was originally introduced, 1949, President Truman also introduced legislation you may be familiar with: the Fair Deal.

“Today, I am asking for a fair deal for American talk radio programs and their millions of bi-partisan listeners. The broadcast world has changed tremendously since 1949.

“In today’s world where consumers watch HDTV, listen to HD Radio and talk on iPhones, the number of broadcast outlets available to the general public is much, much greater than back in 1949.

“With the market of political ideas flourishing not only on the radio, but also on the Internet, on TV and in print, there is no need for government control of public airwaves.

“Do we really want the FCC to conduct investigations and issue warnings to radio talk show hosts nationwide who simply discuss the important issues of our time?

“The Constitution says “freedom of speech,” not “freedom of government approved fair speech in rationed amounts.”

“Talk radio is an asset to our nation because it encourages strong and healthy debate about public policy.

“The Broadcasters Freedom Act would ensure these debates continue, and I am proud to support this legislation so that millions of American radio listeners are given a fair deal.”
The short version? It might hurt talk radio, so he doesn't like it. Now why would Walberg be interested in protecting talk radio? Could it have something to do with Chris Simmons-- Walberg employee and radio host on WBCK? Or, perhaps, it would hurt this fellow:

If the Fairness Doctrine were being enforced, the Rush Limbaughs of the world, who propagate so much hatred on behalf of the conservative movement, might feel pressure to be a little more "fair and balanced."

In fact, let's focus on talk radio. Here's Tim Walberg's primary argument:
With the market of political ideas flourishing not only on the radio, but also on the Internet, on TV and in print, there is no need for government control of public airwaves.
There is a hint of truth to this. The Internet, as this blog shows, offers a phenomenal opportunity for political discussion and partisanship. But broadcast media-- especially talk radio-- still has a much wider audience. After all, it's easier to tune in to WJR on your way to work than it is to take time out of your evening to read Michigan Liberal.

So let's look at talk radio, because that's what Tim Walberg focused on. It's a product of the free market, flourishing in the decades since the death of the Fairness Doctrine. Walberg said:
Talk radio is an asset to our nation because it encourages strong and healthy debate about public policy.
So it must be balanced because market forces, right? Healthy debate of public policy, indeed, would require both sides to be presented, right?

Not quite. The Center for American Progress recently released a report (previously mentioned at the blog Conservative Media) looking at the five major companies that broadcast the vast majority of commercial talk radio.

But wait! Congressman Walberg said:

In today’s world where consumers watch HDTV, listen to HD Radio and talk on iPhones, the number of broadcast outlets available to the general public is much, much greater than back in 1949.
(Emphasis added.)

Well, Congressman, not in radio. Five companies-- Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel, Cumulus, and Salem-- own most of the radio stations you might be listening to. Consolidation following the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has allowed an individual broadcasting corporation like Clear Channel to own as many as seven stations in a single market. So much for competition.

So what did the Center for American Progress find? You should read the whole report yourself, but these bar graphs pretty much sum up the current state of American talk radio.

So. The impression I'm getting is that, without a shadow of a doubt, talk radio is incredibly conservative. Now, as that Center for American Progress report explains, this isn't entirely because of the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, but there's no doubt that if the Fairness Doctrine were in place, there would have to be some major changes made.

Not that any of this ought to surprise anyone. I just thought I'd clearly outline the reasons Tim Walberg has for stepping up and fighting the Fairness Doctrine on behalf of talk radio. His employee/right-wing radio host Chris Simmons must appreciate it (and his station, by the way, is owned by Clear Channel Communications).

Oh, and that $1,000 that Clear Channel contributed to Walberg last fall must have been helpful, too. But it's not like campaign bribes-- er, contributions-- would ever affect the legislation he supports.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Battle Creek Area Stops on Saturday

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, has planned three stops in the area on Saturday.

Walberg is set to hold a coffee hour from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the City Café, 137 S. Main St., in Reading.

From there, Walberg will be heading to a coffee hour from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Tekonsha Café, 118 N. Main St.

Walberg's last scheduled stop is from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Marshall District Library, 124 W. Green St.

I'd encourage Battle Creek area readers to stop in and chat with Walberg. Ask him why he opposes the Fairness Doctrine, why he's been lying about fictitious tax increases, and why he supports failed policies in Iraq when even staunch conservatives like Sen. Chuck Hagel and Sen. Richard Lugar can see that we're on the wrong track.


More Susan Demas

I should have mentioned this sooner...

Once again, the pages of the Battle Creek Enquirer carry a harsh message for Congressman Tim Walberg, thanks to editor Susan Demas. A sample:

The press is in the business of reporting the truth about officials' voting records, platforms, finances and campaign ads.

Naturally, these goals often clash. As a result, Walberg and his staff refuse to answer my questions, provide information on his votes and inform me of his public events.

As an editor, I can't even assign a reporter to cover something as simple as the Tipton Republican's earmarks in the federal budget - as was the case last week - because I'm not privy to his press releases.

In short, I can't do my job to inform the public - and you lose.

What you should care about is that the congressman doesn't much care for you, either, because he is actively squelching your right to know.

Even more troubling is his hypocrisy. In a flowery, self-congratulatory column in last Friday's Detroit Free Press, Walberg metamorphosed into the media's biggest champion, sounding his support for the Free Flow of Information Act. It's a federal shield bill for journalists, protecting us from prosecution if we won't reveal a confidential source's name.

But who will protect the press from Tim Walberg?

You really should go read the whole thing, if you haven't already. Also, an anonymous commenter included the entire article in the comments of the Video Challenge post.

UPDATE: I've been reading through the discussion pages for this article on the Enquirer's website. Lots of personal attacks, with lots of people claiming that Susan Demas is a bad journalist, or one of them "lib'ruls" out to ruin the country. But then came this, by someone called Spartyno1:
Just as the primaries turn out the base, storychat turns out the fringes.

The Walberg faithful and conservatives want to paint Demas into a liberal corner (as she openly predicted) while playing on the stereotype of the emotional woman, while the liberals/leftists want to lump Walberg in with Bush and play into the whole cycle of corruption charge.

Both sides are overly emotional and miss the main point, which is:

Walberg is evasive, and does not answer direct questions.
That is harmful to the community.
It needs to stop.

Plus, Walberg is guilty of the highest level of hypocrisy claiming that he loves journalists when he is not willing to answer their questions.

Quick housecleaning:
If you voted for Schwarz, and truly supported him, chances are, you know the spelling of his last name. If however, you are a Walberg supporter, and you don't want to look partisan, you are more likely to say, "I voted for him, but now I've changed my mind..."

In fact this tack works for any candidate.

Some, but not all press releases are on Walberg's website, meaning that we still miss a great deal of valuable information.
Walberg's voting record can be found, but it's a journalist's job find out WHY he voted in that way.

Demas does that, and she is punished for her effort.
That is what is unsettling here, not Walberg's views or his policies.

Walberg has done many fine things, so why not be willing to talk about them?

To add salt to the wound he feels the need to send his press secretary to perform his evasive maneuvers.

Ask yourself:

How often does Walberg himself get quoted?
How often does he have town hall meetings?

Little, and not enough, respectively.

And it is a very valid question to ask about his feelings toward a prospective opponent.

If we can spend half the time in the media talking about the next president, I believe we can spend five minutes discussing our next representative.

Here's the thing about Demas that most of you guys don't get.

She DOES have an agenda and a bias.

Her agenda is to find the truth, and she is biased toward people that are forthcoming with it.

Demas doesn't take kindly to receiving press releases (when they're available) and running with them blindly.

She'll let some pissant weekly in Hillsdale County do that.

She digs deep, finds validations, researches, talks to experts, and then double checks everything to make absolutely certain you know the unspun, unfiltered truth.

You know, the kind of things reporters are SUPPOSED to do.

(If any of you have a blog out there, rest easy, you will never be held up to any standards, have no editors, do not need to notate, factcheck, or verify unreliable sources, and can feel free to pull anything out of your sleeves at will. )

If she did as you asked, and instructed her reporters to be stenographers, her job would be so much nicer.

Do you know easy it is to just wait for the next spun comment from a press secretary, and print it?

Go to any liberal blog and you'll see it in spades.

Pardon me, but I must have missed the lovefest from the MI left when "hippy liberal" Demas ripped Granholm for being misguided and ineffective.

So, for all the extra work a good honest journalist does, they get rewarded with what?

Avoidance, threats, and puff piece columns about loving the media while simultaneously stonewalling it.


Many of you are either letting him off the hook or saying you want to hear it in a nicer timbre.

Folks, this ain't morning latte!

We pay Rep Walberg a six figure salary to make decisions for us. It is a fundament right of each and every one of us to find out why he makes those decisions.

It's not liberal.
It's not conservative
And it's certainly not a personally biased emotional decision.

It is a requirement for all honest journalists to find the truth about what the policymakers of this country are doing and why.

And it's nice to know that we still have someone with the balls to go out and get it.
Well said. This gets to the very heart of the issue.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Walberg Watch Video Challenge

Bumped... July 4th is coming fast, so send in your videos and essays!

July 4th will mark the end of the first six months that Timothy Walberg will have represented Michigan's 7th District. I'm thinking about doing something special to mark that occasion, but I'd like you to be a part of it.

Between now and July 1st, post a video in which you assess Walberg's performance thus far. Format is entirely up to you... it could be as simple as you reading into a camera, or perhaps a video tribute to his... finest? most embarrassing?... moments in office thus far. Video of Walberg online is scarce, so this could require some creativity on your part. Ideally, I'm thinking 3 to 5 minutes, but length is entirely up to you.

If you don't have the equipment for making a video, written essays would be great too. Feel free to post in the comments, or e-mail me at[at]gmail[dot]com.

Submissions will be featured on Walberg Watch and will be a part of the final package for July 4th. Any suggestions you might have for additional ways to mark the day would be appreciated as well.

Now is your chance to be a little creative and voice your opinion on Tim Walberg!


Friday, June 22, 2007

Walberg Anti Labor

Tim Walberg must explain this one. Walberg was the only member of the Education and Labor Committee to vote against H.R. 980. This news was picked up by

Years of hard work by IAFF members across the country has paid off with the June 20 House Committee vote of 42 to 1 to guarantee collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation.
Congressman Walberg is kind of out on a limb.
The sponsor of HR 980, Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI), worked with Republicans on the Committee to address some technical concerns that had been raised during a hearing on the bill. The changes eroded much of the opposition to the legislation and allowed most of the Committee’s GOP members to support the bill. Fifteen Republicans joined with 27 Democrats to vote in favor of HR 980. Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) cast the lone dissenting vote.
If this does not get Labor fired up I don't know what will.

Show Walberg what you think of this vote by going to My Act Blue Page and make a contribution to help defeat this Congressman.

UPDATE: The Battle Creek Enquirer picked up on this story today. This is the explanation from Walberg's staff,

“The state of Michigan already has collective bargaining provisions, and the congressman felt that federal regulations on top of Michigan’s bargaining position were unnecessary,” said spokesman Matt Lahr.

Walberg believes diverse communities should have the authority to decide at a local level what’s best for employee-employer relations, Lahr said.

This from the AFL-CIO Blog
Fully 20 states do not protect the collective bargaining rights of public safety employees, and two states—Virginia and North Carolina—prohibit public safety employees from collectively bargaining.

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Tim voted against contractor accountability...

I don't think this has been posted, if so, sorry...

In March, Tim voted against HR 1362, The Accountability in Contracting Act. Tim was 1 of 73 Republicans to vote "No". The total vote was 347-73 with 11 not voting. From my reading of the act, it was intended to put the stops to no-bid contracts and sole-source contracts, also would notify Congress of no bid contracts awarded to foriegn owned companies in countries sponsoring terrorism. Seems like the Congressman, who continues to loudly proclaim his disgust with corruption and waste would have voted for a bill that holds big companies (Halliburton?) accountable, huh? Heck, even McCotter voted for the bill!

Tim's office posted the earmarks today...

I had called earlier in the week, after the CNN story broke, asking why Tim had not responded to them on listing his requested earmarks. Today, his office posted them...
Here's the list from his website...

"Below is a complete list of the appropriations project requests submitted by Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07) for Fiscal Year 2008.

It should be noted that these projects have zero budget cost and do not constitute new spending as each application seeks to be included as part of the budgeted appropriations process.

Projects are listed according to the appropriations bill they would be included in.

Pursuant to House rules, Congressman Walberg has filed certifications with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the appropriate subcommittees stating that neither he nor his spouse have a financial interest in the project requests.

Defense Appropriations

Dexter Research Center, Inc. - Dexter, Michigan
Total Perimeter Surveillance capability to identify and respond to chemical and biological attacks

Michigan Air National Guard - Battle Creek, Michigan
Lightening 4th Generation Advanced Targeting Pod Procurement for F-16’s and A-10’s

Peckham Industries - Lansing, Michigan
Fleece Insulating Liners for Extended Cold Weather Clothing System for the Department of the Army

Peckham Industries - Lansing, Michigan
Cold Weather Layering System for the United States Marine Corps

Peckham Industries - Lansing, Michigan
Multi Climate Protection System for the Department of the Navy

Note: All three of these preceding projects are performed by Peckham Corp, a company that employs the disabled in Charlotte and Lansing, Michigan.

Rockwell Collins - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Digital Heads-Up Display upgrade program for the F-15 for the Department of the United States Air Force

Rockwell Collins - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Global Air Traffic Management program for the KC-135 for the Department for the United States Air Force

Sparton Electronics - Jackson, Michigan
Sonobuoys for the Department of the Navy.

Energy & Water Appropriations

Jackson County Parks Department – Jackson County, Michigan
Cascades Park Renovation Project

Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations

Adrian College - Adrian, Michigan
Adrian College Nursing Science Laboratories Project.

Herrick Medical Center - Tecumseh, Michigan
OB/GYN Medicaid Clinic

ProMedica Continuing Care Service Corporation – Lenawee County, Michigan
Implementation of a telemedicine pilot program to remotely monitor home health patients with Congestive Heart Failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, diabetes and other targeted high risk patients with a chronic disease

Sienna Heights University - Adrian, Michigan
Math Education Technology Training Initiative

Sienna Heights University - Adrian, Michigan
Siena Heights University Nursing Initiative

Sienna Heights University - Adrian, Michigan
Siena Heights University Special Education Initiative

Starr Commonwealth - Albion, Michigan
1 To 1 Technology Initiative

Transportation, Housing & Urban Development Appropriations

Battle Creek Transit - Battle Creek, Michigan
Bus replacement

Branch Area Transit Authority - Coldwater, Michigan
Bus replacement, radio tower repeater system, technology upgrades and facility upgrades

City of Jackson Transit Authority - Jackson, Michigan
Bus replacement

Hillsdale Dial-A-Ride - Hillsdale, Michigan
Bus replacement, technology upgrades and completion of construction of a
new building

Marshall Dial-A-Ride - Marshall, Michigan
Bus replacement

Michigan Department of Transportation – Calhoun County, Michigan
Resurfacing of M-249, south of Golden Avenue, to M-96

W.K Kellogg Airport - Battle Creek, Michigan
Request airport improvement for a new parallel runway"

Anybody know what "zero budget cost" means? Aren't we cutting checks?
Also, where are the numbers? How much did each earmark cost?
I notice the only earmarks for Washtenaw County are defense contract related...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Walberg Watch is Influential?

A nice little ego boost to start the week...

I received an e-mail from last night, a website with which I was previously unfamiliar. They set up pages for various states (including Michigan), which cover the whole of the state's blog activity. It looks sort of nifty.

From the e-mail, I was pointed in the direction of their political blog influence rankings page.

So, apparently Walberg Watch is important! Number four!

They don't explain their formula for determining this, unfortunately. I'd love to know how we rank above Liberal, Loud and Proud, for my amusement only..., and other great blogs. Though I do enjoy the fact that Walberg Watch is #4, but the official blog of Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, is #18.

That's the ego boost of the day.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Exxon Mobile PAC and Walberg

Tim Walberg's support of drilling for oil in ANWR and the Great Lakes has been bothering me. So have his votes against protecting American consumers from gas price gouging. And so does his latest rhetoric complaining about increasing fuel efficiency. All this from a man that calls himself an environmentalist.

This has been bothering me, and I've been trying to think of a reason why he might do all of this. I mean, a reason that's more than just that he's a terrible representative.

Could the $2,000 he got from Exxon Mobile PAC in the first quarter have something to do with it? Is he hoping to get even more during the second quarter, thanks to his vocal support for the oil industry?

I'm just throwing that idea out there. It's amazing, the kinds of things you find on the FEC's website.

Just a short late-night thought, to finish off the week... Remember to go vote in both of Doug's polls, one on candidate preference and one on money. If voting isn't enough for you, feel free to actually contribute, too, either to a candidate or to the Democratic Nominee Fund up in the top corner of Walberg Watch.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Poll, What will be your $ involvement in the 7th District?

There was a nice response to the poll about who you liked to take out Walberg. Now I am wondering about the level of financial commitment the readers of this Blog will make to defeating Walberg.

What best describes your commitment to defeat Tim Walberg
Will not donate to any campaign
Will donate only after the primary
Will donate to Berryman
Will donate to Nacht
Will donate to Renier
Will give but have not decided on a candidate yet
Have already given to Berryman
Have already given to Nacht
Have already given to Renier
Free polls from
If you want to give to Berryman you can do so through my Act Blue Page.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mark Brewer Talks About Walberg

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer has been reaching out to internet-based activists in a series of video podcasts. In the latest, Brewer addresses the congressional races in the 7th District (Walberg) and the 9th District (Knollenberg).

It's great to see Brewer reach out like this, and I look forward to working with the MDP to help elect a Democrat in 2008.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Walberg Strikes Again-- The Fictitious Tax Increase

So, when an elected official lies to me, it ticks me off. When he does it over and over and over, in constituent meetings and in the media, I get really upset.

It's not bad enough that Congressman Tim Walberg wrote an op-ed in the Battle Creek Enquirer complaining about a fictitious tax increase. Now he's got to take his message to the national (conservative) media through Human Events.

Just to recap, for those that haven't been following this and don't want to click through the links above... In March, the Democratic Congress passed a budget plan for fiscal year 2008 which sets spending estimates for future appropriations bills and makes revenue predictions for future years. Those predictions are made based on current tax law-- not fantasy laws Tim Walberg wishes existed-- and include surpluses for late next decade. How does this happen? Well, President Bush's first-term tax cuts included expiration dates (2010) after which tax rates would return to pre-cut levels (as written by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives). Since no laws have been passed yet to change those expiration dates, revenue predictions take this into account.

Tim Walberg says that this is, in fact, the largest tax increase in American history, and that the mean old Democrats snuck it by everyone except him. I say that the Democrats in Congress are merely guilty of having good math skills.

This brings us to today...

Walberg opens his latest article talking about a New York Times article he read stating that many states were finding that, because of recent economic growth, tax revenues were higher than expected. That's pretty cool, though Michigan is not a state lucky enough to be facing that sort of issue.

Where he loses me, however, is when he claims that this development is because of the tax cuts passed in President Bush's first term. Walberg writes:
"More than 40 states have found themselves with more money than they planned... states are looking to give relief to taxpayers who have long been howling about property taxes, and to pay back areas that states have been robbing to balance previous budgets..."


Because tax relief passed by Congress in 2001 and 2003 is working, states are much more likely to take fiscally responsible moves and tighten their belts instead of hiking taxes. States that were once in recession are now brimming with tax revenue.
Walberg uses the same poor logic so often used by politicians: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, or "after it, therefore because of it." Yes, many state governments are getting this extra boost thanks to economic prosperity, and yes, Congress did pass some tax cuts prior to that. But that doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Could the tax cuts have had a positive impact? Maybe, maybe not. But Walberg offers no evidence, and just saying it doesn't make it so.

Later in the article, Walberg writes:

Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress are choosing to ignore advancements made possible by the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

In their most recent budget bill, House Democrats sought to enact a $400 billion tax increase that will cripple current progress in our economy.

Stop right there! I've just got to remind everyone, the Democrats did NOT pass a $400 billion tax increase! They passed a budget plan that makes predictions, and doesn't raise taxes.

If a $400 billion tax increase was ever passed, it was passed when the Republicans in Congress made their tax cuts expire in 2010. The Democrats are just working with the law as it currently reads.

Anyway, I'll let him continue.

Should Democrats follow through on their budget promises, the American people will face the following:

A $500 per child tax increase
A 55% Death Tax
A 13% tax hike for many small businesses
A 33% tax hike on capital gains
A 164% tax hike on dividends

Five million low-income families who currently pay no income tax will be hit with a tax bill
I'll trust his numbers here, but I'd love for someone to check them. But assuming he's right, let's remember, this is what would happen if absolutely no action is taken between now and 2010.

Let's be realistic here. This isn't what will actually happen.

Some of those taxes will return to their previous rates, but a lot of them-- especially any of the ones targeted at low- and middle-income Americans-- are the sort that Democrats would support. In fact, they might lower those taxes even further, positioning themselves as champions of the working middle class, while letting the tax giveaways to the top income earners (those most able to pay) expire. Revenue predictions don't always predict political realities.

Congressman Walbegr's answer, of course, is the bill he's apparently introducing this week, the "Tax Increase Prevention Act". It would make all the tax cuts permanent.

One of the things Tim Walberg doesn't seem to understand is that it doesn't have to be a binary choice of extending the cuts or not. Some cuts-- the ones that work, the ones that target those that need it-- can be extended and made permanent, while other cuts-- the ones targeted at the richest Americans who don't really need tax cuts-- can be allowed to expire. Rather than falsely accusing the Democrats of raising taxes, Walberg ought to be looking and which cuts worked and which didn't, and he should decide which ones are worth keeping. That's a logical, sensible way of doing it.

Logic and sense... imagine that.

Of course, let's also remember that this whole thing is a made up issue that Walberg is trying to exploit. The cuts won't expire until 2010, and the Democrats aren't making them do that, they just haven't addressed the issue yet (which makes sense, 'cause they've got a couple of years to do it). In their budget plan predictions, they just made estimates based on everything we know now. They don't subscribe to the "if we believe it, it might be true" philosophy.

Walberg's real dispute isn't with Democrats that want to raise taxes. It's with budget plans that use good math and current tax laws.

Poor guy. Even his pocket calculator has turned against him.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Poll, who do you like to defeat Walberg in 08

This is just for fun. I have only the three announced Democrats in this race. I know it is early, but make a choice, we won't hold you to it.

Remember to make a comment as to why you voted the way you did.

Who do you like to take on Walberg
Sharon Renier
David Nacht
Jim Berryman
Free polls from

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stupak and Walberg Disagree About Legislation

In a guest column, Gas prices: More than supply/demand in the Battle Creek Enquirer, Congressman Bart Stupak confirmed some of what I said at Walberg's Town Hall last week.
I asked Walberg if there was not evidence that what was really going on was the oil industry had closed refineries to drive down supply and drive up prices? Walberg responded they would not do that because the markets work and they want to sell the gas.
This from Stupak,
Losses in refinery capacity are not completely unforeseeable. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee that I chair discovered internal documents from 1995 and 1996 that demonstrate that Mobil, Chevron and Texaco advocated limiting domestic refining capacity to drive up prices. The oil companies' strategy worked. As refineries closed and Americans experienced record high gasoline prices, Big Oil realized record profits. The average profit margin to refine a barrel of crude oil into gasoline has recently jumped from $9 to $35.85 a barrel. The average refinery profit on a gallon of gas, at $3 a gallon, has increased from 20 to 85 cents a gallon.
Again from my post last week,
When I pressed him again on his no vote on the OPEC Bill, Walberg asked me how would I enforce it. I stated that the bill will put OPEC and the oil industry on notice that we will not stand for manipulating prices.
I think Stupak agrees with me,
My legislation, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, would provide the FTC with the authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price of gas. The FTC could exercise this authority over big oil companies at each stage of the fuel production and distribution supply chain.
Congressman Stupak on scare tactics,
Finally, the professor resorts to scare tactics, likening my legislation to price controls that would cause lines at gas stations.
I think Walberg must have used this professor's talking points,
Walberg said that under the plan, “consumers can expect longer lines at the pump, higher prices and less gasoline available during emergencies.”
Stupak answers those concerns,
Professor Wolfram (and Congressman Walberg) must not have read my bill, as my legislation never mentions price controls. Under my bill, when examining instances of price gouging, the Federal Trade Commission would be required to consider mitigating factors such as "additional costs, not within the control of that person, that were paid, incurred or reasonably anticipated by that person." In other words, price increases that compensate for reductions in supply or increased costs would be perfectly legal under the bill. The legislation simply requires that those price increases be justified. (Bold) added by me.
Congressman Stupak, thank you for the explanation. Sounds like a bill that I wish my Congressman would have voted for.

That is why I'm supporting Jim Berryman for Congress.
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Saturday, June 09, 2007

"The Importance of Being an Ally"

Congressman Timothy Walberg is against same-sex marriage. He made that pretty clear during his 2006 campaign. I suppose that's a perfectly valid position, and I would be willing to listen to his deeply flawed arguments, if that was all he were doing. But it's not.

In 2006, he attacked Joe Schwarz for supposedly having a secret pro-gay agenda because Schwarz did not support the Federal Marriage Amendment-- Schwarz, a thinking man, didn't think something like that was really worth amending the Constitution for. Then he turned against Sharon Renier with the same line of attack. It's not enough for him to be against gay marriage. He has to exploit people's prejudices and demonize an entire class of people-- the LGBT community.

I don't know what Tim Walberg really thinks of homosexuals, but I know what he wants us to think. He wants us to be afraid of them because they're different, because there's a stigma attached to that lifestyle, and because in conservative farm country like this, false stereotypes about gays and lesbians have become the "Hollywood liberal values" that supposedly stand in contrast to Tim Walberg's "traditional values."

He wants us to hate an entire class of people just for who they are, because he wants to win elections. That puts Tim Walberg on the same level as those who have sought to demonize African Americans, Jews, Catholics, Arabs, Latinos, and a host of other groups persecuted throughout history. Walberg, a Christian minister, must read a different Bible than I do, 'cause I don't remember Jesus saying anything about hating people that are different, or denying them basic rights.

More than anything else, this is what bothers me about Tim Walberg. He cloaks very un-Christian attitudes and beliefs behind his experience as Reverend Walberg. He claims a monopoly on values, when in fact, he wishes to deny an entire class of people one of the most important values we have as Americans: equal protection of the law.

So when Julielyn Gibbons (aka Liberal Lucy) asks us to stand up and voice our support for the LGBT community, I do so with pride. As a straight man and a Christian, I've had enough. Enough discrimination, enough prejudice, enough hatred.

Go read her post.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

End-of-week Round-up

This has been a very long week for me. You know the sort of week where everything good and everything bad happens all at once? Yeah. Walberg Watch hasn't been my top priority the last few days.

But enough of that shameless plea for sympathy. Here's a quick round-up of all the stuff I've wanted to mention, but haven't.
  • David Nacht's campaign website has been expanded somewhat, and now includes more issue positions and some photos. It's great to see so much serious action this early in the campaign, and I'm feeling really good about 2008 right now. Some suggestions (for all candidates, not just Nacht): When talking about specific issues, mention specific legislation (ie. Walberg voted against X, I would have voted for it). Also, start a blog. A regularly updated campaign blog would be something I'd love to link to.
  • It turns out I'm not really necessary, 'cause some fantastic readers have posted anonymously in the comments about some of Tim Walberg's most recent votes. First, on stem cell research, then human cloning:

Anonymous said...

Once again Walberg votes no on an important issue and is in the minority.

He consistantly votes no. He's an obstructionist and has a very shallow understanding of things.

His information on stem-cell facts he cited is absolutely wrong, but consider his sources.

He had a great opportunity to extol "life-affirming" research and advancements which would also provide great benefits to Michigan research funding, but instead his closedmindedness and tunnel vision on this important issue clouded his judgment and he voted no.

We must elect someone more intelligent and reasonable. We all deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, in voting "no" on this latest bill, Walberg says that he *still* *does not* support stem cell research. His splitting hairs is simply dodging the issue.

I wonder who is feeding him this stuff, as he certainly is not up to it himself.

Anonymous said...

I cannot figure this one out either. Would the "liberal culture of death" that Walberg campaigned against support a ban on human cloning?

Walberg had a chance to make it very clearly a crime to clone humans and he voted against it. It failed 204-213.

His right to life grassroots are going to question that decision. Many of the arguments against embryonic stem cell research hinge on the doomsday scenario of it encouraging human cloning. Why would Walberg take a pass and not outlaw cloning?

  • The Michigan Democratic Party is hitting Congressman Walberg hard on oil drilling in the Great Lakes, and rightly so. Here's what they sent out to their e-mail list (also featured in a front-page diary on Michigan Liberal):
The newest controversy surrounding Congressman Tim Walberg is his support for oil drilling in the Great Lakes. This controversy has reached all forms of media: television, radio, newspapers and blogs.

On television: WZZM Channel 13: Idea of Great Lakes oil drilling sparks debate

In the newspaper:

On the radio: WWJ, The Michigan Talk Radio Network and WILS 1320 AM all provided offline coverage of Walberg’s support for oil drilling in the Great Lakes.

In blogs: Walberg Watch, Swing State Project and many others covered it here, here, here and here.

... And yes, I would still have mentioned that even if they hadn't linked to this blog and my Swing State Project comment.

So that, plus Susan Demas' article and Doug's write-up of the town hall pretty much covers it for Walberg this week. I'm tired, and tomorrow is going to be a very long day. What's new with all of you?

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Demas: Walberg is a liberal

(Thanks to an e-mail tip.)

In today's Battle Creek Enquirer, Susan Demas (a favorite of this blog) begins an editorial with five simple words:
Tim Walberg is a liberal.
Has she lost her mind? Has all that stress-- long hours, working hard, and actually reporting the facts-- finally made her crack?

I was worried for a moment, but it should be Tim Walberg that's worried.

Go and read the whole thing, you really should. I'm going to give you a few excerpts.
It is with heavy heart that I write these words about our congressman, because I never thought I would.

When the good reverend rode into the Capitol on his Harley-Davidson Road King, he vowed to stop the pervasive problems of gays getting hitched every five seconds, guns being ripped from the hands of law-abiding toddlers and abortions being performed at the rate that McDonald’s sells Big Macs.

That’s why he had to oust that big lib Joe Schwarz, who was masquerading as a Republican, but as all true patriots know, secretly carries the title of general secretary of the Communist Party USA.

But alas, it seems the Washington ethos has corrupted the man who seemed incorruptible, the Rev. Walberg.
Demas then proceeds to list some of Walberg's accomplishments, which, interestingly enough, are nothing like his promises from the campaign.
He knew that guns, gays and abortion are the fundamental issues of our time and talked of little else on the stump. So where is this kinder, gentler Tim coming from? Is this the little boy who dreamed of being a forest ranger while frolicking in the wooded acres Chicago’s south side, as he recently told a beltway reporter?

Sir, I know you grew up in the 60s. But it’s time to put that hippie persona to rest. We elected you to round up immigrants in a rickety pick-up and ship ‘em back. We sent you to Washington to pass a whopping 23 percent sales tax on consumers in your “fair tax” plan. We voted for you to kill the Department of Education, because as you said, a nation of 300 million people does not need a federal system.

Perhaps it’s time for a true Republican to stand up against this turncoat in next year’s primary, finally reclaiming the 7th District for family values. I know it breaks Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment — “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican” — but Walberg already hurled that imperative out the window in 2006 with his ad assassination of Schwarz.
And the conclusion...
Why has thou forsaken us, Rep. Walberg? A cynic would say you’re terrified of the next election since the Democrats have taken back Congress, have topped the polls and have vocally targeted your seat. A cynic would note you still preach traditional social issues to evangelical churches and conservative groups, but you turn on the limp-wristed, lefty charm when appealing to the more than 50 percent who didn’t vote for you last year.

But I have faith in you, reverend. I know that although you’ve lost your way in the cesspool that is our Capitol, you’ll return to the warm embrace of the conservative clan before the 2008 election.

You’re going to need buckets of cash to survive this skirmish, after all. And they’re the only ones who are going to fill your collection plate.
Really, though, you should read the whole thing. I skipped over the jabs at the Club for Growth and radio host/Walberg staffer Chris Simmons, as well as some other good stuff in the middle.

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My experience at Walberg's Town Hall

I had not planned on going to Congressman Walberg’s town hall meeting in Battle Creek on Monday as I had another meeting earlier in Jackson. I sure am glad that I went. Nick Schirripa from the Battle Creek Enquirer covered the basics, but there was a lot more that went on. It was clearly a friendly group that had gathered to hear Walberg. In my opinion way too much time was spent on immigration. I am not surprised as it is clear that Republicans think this is an issue that can divert attention from Iraq. This is what Nick and I were talking about when I said,
"I think he came across very well and gave answers that most of the people in the room wanted to hear," Murch said.
There were only four of us who challenged the Congressman on any issue. One lady was there to ask Walberg to support the creation of the Department of Peace. Walberg took this opportunity to compare the War in Iraq to Reagan and the Cold War. While he was polite the Congressman totally blew off this idea. There was one young man I wanted to talk to, but he disappeared while I was talking to Nick Schirripa. This young man challenged the wisdom of building a wall on the boarder comparing it to the Berlin wall and stated that he thought drilling for oil in ANWR was a waist of time, because of the amount of oil that is available there. Walberg stated that there were different opinions about the amount. The young man then said that he believed his facts. Walberg had no response.

My first question came during a discussion about gas prices, as quoted in the Enquirer,
Murch asked Walberg why he recently voted against legislation that would have allowed the United States to sue the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, for manipulating oil prices. The bill passed with bipartisan support, 345-72.

After Walberg said,
Walberg said "the market will do what the market does," and suing OPEC would mean little more than politicians "posturing and pontificating," when they should be looking for alternatives and decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
He then went on to complain about regulation and that it is too difficult to build a new refinery. I asked Walberg if there was not evidence that what was really going on was the oil industry had closed refineries to drive down supply and drive up prices? Walberg responded they would not do that because the markets work and they want to sell the gas. When I pressed him again on his no vote on the OPEC Bill, Walberg asked me how would I enforce it. I stated that the bill will put OPEC and the oil industry on notice that we will not stand for manipulating prices. Walberg then made a similar statement to one that was in the Enquirer.
Walberg said that under the plan, “consumers can expect longer lines at the pump, higher prices and less gasoline available during emergencies.”
I asked him what evidence did he have that this Bill would create long lines at the pump. Walberg then made reference to the OPEC oil embargo. I reminded him that the oil embargo was not a result of anything we did, but simply an attempt to drive down supply and drive up prices. (they wouldn’t do that would they?).

I then asked a second question.

Murch also asked Walberg about his comments a couple weeks ago in which he advocated drilling for oil under the Great Lakes.
What was not said in the article was that Congressman Walberg responded that the Democratic Party had taken his comments out of context. Walberg totally misrepresented what he had said about drilling under the Great Lakes. Listen for your self. Walberg would not answer a direct question. I asked him three or four times if he would support it

When Walberg was pushed if he would he support Great Lakes drilling if state and federal laws were repealed, he answered: "I don't deal in hypotheticals. You do that. I deal with reality."

I Then got he last question of the evening. I must give him credit that he did come back to me. I asked, you have mentioned ANWR and drilling under the Great Lakes, is there any place so environmentally sensitive that you would not risk drilling for oil,
Walberg said, he would support any environmentally-sound method for retrieving resources needed.
I then suggested that he should visit the Pratt Museum in Homer Alaska. There is a great exhibit about the Exxon Valdez accident. This is when Walberg shocked even me. He stated that there would not be a ship at ANWR. I reminded him that there would be a pipe line that would go somewhere. Walberg said that the Exxon Valdez was not related to the pipe line. When I said, if they had not been drilling on the North Slope there would be no pipe line and no ship to run aground. Walberg responded, “now we are talking about the chicken or the egg”. This comment makes it very clear that Congressman Walberg will cherry pick the science and will only look at the evidence that will tell him it is OK to drill. I can’t believe that there is any scientist who would say that the spilling of oil in Price William Sound was not an environmental impact created by drilling on the North Slope.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Walberg's Town Hall

The Battle Creek Enquirer was the only media that attended the event. Nick Schirripa wrote a fair article about the event.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Battle Creek Town Hall Monday

This was in the Battle Creek Enquirer today.

Walberg plans town meeting for Monday

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, is planning a town hall meeting in Battle Creek on Monday.

The meeting is open to the public, and is set for 7 p.m. in the Miller Stone Building, 77 Capital Ave. N.E.

I've complained about Walberg only holding meetings in friendly areas of the district, but (for once) he's finally holding a real meeting. It's in the largest city of the district, where there are Democrats and Republicans who might disagree with him, and it's being held at 7 PM, meaning there could be a real turnout for it-- not like some meetings, held at inconvenient times for working people.

When I went to one of these in Adrian, I was in a very small minority of people that disagreed with his politics. It would be great if all of you in the Battle Creek area could make it out and ask Walberg some tough questions.

Ask Congressman Walberg why he wants to drill for oil in the world's largest supply of fresh water. Ask him why he goes around the district lying to voters about a "tax increase" that doesn't exist. Ask him when we can expect to see our soldiers come home from Iraq, and just what "victory" is ('cause he's never really explained that).

I'd love to hear from anyone that attends (or see video, if anyone wants to try that). E-mail me at[at]gmail[dot]com if you're planning to attend and you'd like to tell me about it.


Walberg supports OPEC

On a previous post Fitzy told us about Walberg's no vote on the Bill to allow the government to sue OPEC. The Battle Creek Enquirer has an article about that vote in today's paper. Where does Walberg come up with this stuff?
Walberg said that under the plan, “consumers can expect longer lines at the pump, higher prices and less gasoline available during emergencies.”
That's it Tim when you don't have a good reason why you are not looking out for your constituents, make stuff up that will scare us. What evidence do you have that these things will happen? Oh, that's right we don't need evidence. (no global warming, Iraq, Intelligent Design, etc.)

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Walberg further to the right than majority of district voters

This from the Campaign Notebook, of Politico.
Democrats do not want to miss a good opportunity to defeat a Republican candidate further to the right than the majority of district voters. That happened in 2006, when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t recruit a candidate in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District. Throughout the election cycle, moderate Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz faced a serious primary threat from the right from Tim Walberg, and the incumbent did indeed end up losing in the primary to the challenger. Yet without a viable candidate in the race, Democrats could not make a serious play for the seat. Democrats later expressed regret over that turn of events, as Walberg won the general election with only 50 percent of the vote against a little-known, underfunded Democratic challenger.
I sure hope this does not happen again. We can not allow it to happen again.

It is no secret that I am supporting Jim Berryman. I speak for myself and no one else at Walbergwatch. Every post I make will have a link to my Act Blue page and Jim's web site.

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