Friday, October 31, 2008

Late-Night Blogging In Review


So, all has not been well in Fitzy-land. I've been busy, I've been caught up in presidential campaign excitement, and, of course, somehow I managed to catch both a cold (a couple of weeks ago) and a "flu-like virus" (this week). Really, there have been some pretty miserable moments. But you don't care about that, you care about beating Tim Walberg!

So I spent the last few days trying to catch up with the campaign-- that can be seen in the dozens of posts below, which I've just uploaded. Most of them are going to sink off of the page pretty quickly (or already have), so I want to give you a table of contents of sort. Here's everything I've been up to today.

By the way, there's more coming tomorrow. This is just part one.

Today's blogging:

As I said above, there's more coming tomorrow, especially in the "Debates" category. That's tomorrow. Honestly, I'm really tired right now.

But I've got one last thing, for all of you progressive Democrats that need some motivating for the last week of the campaign. Watch this:

The U.S. Senate Democratic caucus made that video last year in memory of Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), who was killed in a plane crash on October 25, 2002, along with his wife, his staff, and the flight crew. Wellstone was someone who you could count on to fight for you, and I think the video captures that. Regardless of whether you agree with his politics, I think most would agree that if we had more leaders who were that passionate about helping people, we'd be better off.

(By the way, Senator Schauer-- I know that you're fairly moderate and this is a moderate district, but if you win on November 4th, I'll be measuring you against the Wellstone standard.)

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Walberg: Iraq Did Have WMD

Um... Congressman Walberg?

Walberg: Did not Saddam Hussein have the weapons of mass destruction?

Schauer: No!

Walberg: You disagree with even the...

Schauer: Do you contend that he did?

Walberg: Oh absolutely he did. In fact...

Moderator: What evidence has the government found of WMDs in Iraq since we went in?

Walberg: Oh, they didn't find it once they went in, but there's clear evidence that they were shipped other places or maybe still buried in the desert. The Hamilton Commission found that out...

[Moderator?]: Did we find them?

Walberg: No, we didn't find 'em.
Hm. So, Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction, it's just that they're hidden so well that even after five years, we haven't found any. The Iraqi government was able to hide them quickly, in the midst of preparations for an invasion, without leaving any traces or having any witnesses that were able to give credible accounts to the Americans searching for the weapons.


I'm not an expert on this, but thankfully, there are some people that have spent a lot of time on this. For instance, the Iraq Survey Group, which was convened by coalition governments specifically to search for stockpiles or evidence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, had this to say:
The former Regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners separate from Saddam. Instead, his lieutenants understood WMD revival was his goal from their long association with Saddam and his infrequent, but firm, verbal comments and directions to them.

and this:
ISG has not found evidence that Saddam Husayn possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but the available evidence from its investigation—including detainee interviews and document exploitation—leaves open the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq although not of a militarily significant capability. Several senior officers asserted that if Saddam had WMD available when the 2003 war began, he would have used them to avoid being overrun by Coalition forces.


Senior military officers and former Regime officials were uncertain about the existence of WMD during the sanctions period and the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom because Saddam sent mixed messages. Early on, Saddam sought to foster the impression with his generals that Iraq could resist a Coalition ground attack using WMD. Then, in a series of meetings in late 2002, Saddam appears to have reversed course and advised various groups of senior officers and officials that Iraq in fact did not have WMD. His admissions persuaded top commanders that they really would have to fight the United States without recourse to WMD. In March 2003, Saddam created further confusion when he implied to his ministers and senior officers that he had some kind of secret weapon.
In other words, Saddam Hussein really, really wanted weapons of mass destruction, liked to brag about them, but didn't actually have any. He was a deluded, aging dictator, not a serious threat.

And what about Tim Walberg's idea that the weapons might have been moved or buried? In an addendum to the final report, it was concluded that it was possible, but very unlikely.

Again, I have to ask, if there were these massive stockpiles, how is it that no one witnessed their movements across the border? I don't know, Congressman Walberg, this is straying into conspiracy-theory land. Next you're going to tell me that black helicopters from the UN are out to get you.

But wait, Congressman Walberg said that the "Hamilton Commission" found out that the weapons were buried in the desert. So he's right... right?

No. He's referring to the Iraq Study Group (not to be confused with the Iraq Survey Group above), which was a bipartisan panel, chaired by Lee Hamilton (a Democrat) and James Baker (a Republican), and which released its final report in December of 2006. Except, they weren't tasked with investigating weapons of mass destruction. They were instead asked to find a path out of the mess we had created in Iraq.

In fact, in their final report, the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" only appears once, in the biography of one of the commission members. As far as I can tell, the report never discusses the truth behind claims about weapons stockpiles, nor does it address what might have happened to those stockpiles, if they had existed.

Frankly, I haven't got any idea what Walberg is referring to. If anyone can enlighten me, I'll gladly post an update.

It's possible-- possible-- that Tim Walberg could be right, and a couple of dozen of Iraqi nuclear bombs are hidden in the desert, or in Syria, or something like that. Maybe, in some crazy, unbelievable way, that all managed to happen without us ever finding any evidence. Hey, anything can happen.

But that's not what Tim Walberg said. He didn't say, "Well, who knows, maybe it's possible that they were there!" No. He was sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He mocked Mark Schauer for denying that known fact. It was ridiculous to suggest that Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction, and everyone knows that they're just hidden really well.

And yet, there's absolutely no evidence to support that. It's all conjecture and wishful thinking. When presented with evidence that the weapons of mass destruction weren't there, he continues on, living in his fantasy world.

We should be used to that by now. It's the same Walberg fantasy world where Iraq is as safe as Detroit, the Chinese are drilling off of the coast of Florida, Hurricane Katrina didn't cause any damage, Iraq was behind September 11, and global climate change isn't real.

This isn't funny anymore.

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Schauer's Closing Ad

Here's Mark Schauer's "closing argument," as articulated via television advertisement:

They released the ad on October 27, 2008, meaning it'll end up running for at most a week, and will probably be the last Schauer ad they see. I think it accomplishes a lot of things.

First, starting off by panning across a large group of unemployed workers has a certain populist element in a year that I think populism is a catchy message. There's a sense that these people losing their jobs was an injustice, and that Mark Schauer is on their side-- and on your side, if the same thing happens to you.

Second, it repeats the same message Schauer has stuck to for the entire campaign: he'll fight unfair trade agreements and fight for your jobs, while Tim Walberg thinks outsourcing is okay and won't fight for you. He's not trying some last-minute stunt or desperately changing messages. The Schauer campaign is comfortable with where they're at and think that it's working.

Third, everything about the ad, from the phrasing of Schauer's script to the music in the background implies "hope," which, as Barack Obama has shown, is popular this year. Schauer won't just fight the special interests or whatever. He'll "get up every day and work hard to get people back to work." That's a nice message.

And even so, it's couched in a certain degree of pragmatism-- the "I can't promise you that I can turn our economy around overnight" part. This is still a lean-conservative and lean-Republican district, and people won't vote for a Democrat they think is making ridiculously liberal assertions and promising to fix the world. Mark Schauer is promising to work hard, and will help make things better. Not perfect, but better.

I think this is his strongest ad. But then again, I'm a biased observer. What did you think?

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Walberg's Closing Ad

The Walberg campaign released what may be their final television advertisement for the season. For the first time since their first television ad, it's positive.

I don't have much commentary on this one. Maybe people will believe the "It's all lies!" message, but I think people are smart enough to know that he's been running a lot of negative ads, too, and some of those aren't entirely in line with the facts. (Anyone remember the "Schauer will give our children pornography" ad?) It's a little late to play yourself up as the poor, misunderstood guy who's getting attacked from all sides.

I'm also vaguely reminded of this ad, from Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988:

We all remember the stunningly successful Dukakis Administration, right?

My point is, sometimes going on camera and saying, "They're lying about me!" comes across as whining, and doesn't sit well with people. Maybe it'll work for Tim Walberg, but it didn't do anything to help Dukakis as he dropped back in the polls.

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Walberg Ad: They're Lying About Me!

Although it's not on Tim Walberg's rarely-updated YouTube page, on October 20, Chris Gautz brought us one of the Walberg campaign's latest television ads:

Or, the short version: "Mark Schauer is lying!"

I don't know how effective this will be. Rather than countering with actual rebuttals to Schauer's attacks, he's just issuing a blanket "He's lying!" as if that's enough. I don't know if it is.

Of course, Chris Gautz, who's quoted in the ad, notes:

At the end of the short ad, it says Walberg opposes privatizing Social Security, though he told our paper last month he supports giving future workers the option of saving part of their payroll taxes in personal accounts.

At a recent debate in Adrian, Walberg said "I have never taken a position to privatize Social Security."

I guess he decided to take a position-- though, it's not the position he's held before.

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Schauer Ad: Walberg and Outsourcing

On October 19, 2008, the Schauer campaign released this television advertisement:

Following the standard pattern of negative-then-positive, I actually think this is a really good ad. Regardless of the validity of the economics behind outsourcing, almost everyone in Michigan knows someone who has a story about losing a job because the business moved operations elsewhere. And when Walberg said that outsourcing was "necessary and good," it was incredibly tone-deaf.

But by closing on a positive note-- with a hopeful message and a legitimate Mark Schauer success story, Transpharm-- it casts Schauer as the good guy, on "our side." I'm not a big fan of negative advertising, but when you squeeze in some positive messaging, their value (to me, at least) increases.

That's my take, anyway. What did you think?

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Schauer Ad: Walberg "Bought And Paid For"

On October 8th, 2008, the Schauer campaign released this ad:

I'll be honest, I'm not crazy about this one. Using an actor's voice to fill in for Walberg in an attack ad just seems unnecessary to me.

That said, this is an issue I've criticized Walberg on countless times, and rightly so. He's been a reliable voice for the Club for Growth in Congress (to the detriment of his constituents). And, yeah, as Eric at Michigan Liberal notes, it's absolutely fair game to use this quote.

Even so, I'd be surprised if this was the ad that resonated with voters. People care less about who contributed to whom and more about issues that affect them. A million dollars is a lot, but if you don't already know something about the Club for Growth, it's not going to mean much to you.

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Walberg Attacks... Michael Moore?

On October 9th, 2008, the Walberg campaign released this television ad:

Contrasting it to their latest ad on the economy, the Schauer campaign had this to say:
It's an interesting contrast. Schauer is focusing on the economy and how the incumbent's policies and supporters are making things worse, whereas Walberg's ad focuses on... Michael Moore.

With the Congressman trailing by 10-points in our latest internal poll, it now appears that Tim Walberg has officially jumped the shark.
More seriously, though, what about the substance of the ad?

Yes, Michael Moore does support Mark Schauer, and has contributed to him. Lots of people support Schauer, and that in and of itself shouldn't be a bad thing. It's not like Schauer's been flaunting Moore's endorsement.

The tax increase attacks have been common throughout the campaign, and don't need to be addressed in this post. But the thing about giving drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants has been used less. Is there substance to that attack?

Well, it turns out, yes and no. Yes, because Senator Schauer was against a provision that would prevent illegal immigrants from getting drivers' licenses, and no, because on the substance of the issue, Mark Schauer was right.

Chris Gautz brings us the statement of then-state Representative Schauer when he cast his vote:
"Mr. Speaker and members of the House:
While I strongly support efforts to protect Michigan and the United States, I voted no on HB 5497 (H-1) because in a rush to pass necessary anti-terrorism legislation, there will be unintended consequences that could have been avoided by taking more time with this bill. This is a package of 60 bills. This bill represents only a small piece of the overall package and is unlikely to make any positive change to our current licensing system. Furthermore, if passed with the current language, HB 5497 would place a burden on the office of the Secretary of State that they are ill-equipped to handle. In considering my vote on HB 5497, I am compelled by the testimony of the Michigan Catholic Conference and the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They say that this bill will not accomplish its intended purpose. It will not drive undocumented persons out of Michigan. They are persons with homes, jobs, and families and are making substantial contributions to our communities. Depriving them of a drivers license will just make their lives and their children's lives more difficult. It will also result in an increased threat to the safety of all our people and increased auto insurance costs. This bill will also have negative consequences for Michigan's agriculture industry. In the Diocese of Kalamazoo, there are 20,000 migrants working each year in area fields and orchards. Many of these are undocumented immigrants."
In other words, complicated problems require thoughtful solutions, not panicked moves without considering the consequences. It's easy to make bold pronouncements like, "Illegal immigrants shouldn't get drivers' licenses!" It's much harder to think through the tough situation that would create for everyone.

Mark Schauer brings with him a thoughtful point of view. Tim Walberg brings only a rigid, out-of-touch ideology.

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AFSCME Ad: "Walberg For Wall Street"

YouTube user SeventhDem uploaded this advertisement on October 10, 2008. It's from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.

I'm not going to lie, I was cringing all the way through this. It would have been fine if it wasn't for the cartoon Wall Street executives popping up all the time. Seriously, that's as bad as "Sour for Schauer." Come on, guys, you're embarrassing our side!

I think it's got the potential to be a fairly effective attack ad-- Wall Street isn't popular right now-- but it loses everything with the cartoons. Sorry, I just don't think it works.

That's my shallow take on it. What did you think?

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More From the DCCC

YouTube user SeventhDem (a phenomenal resource) uploaded this advertisement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on October 22, 2008:

Ouch. We've talked about the sales tax thing before (though it's good to see them hitting him on it again), but I think this is probably one of the most pointed ads the DCCC has released. Notably, you come away from it remembering two parts.

First, there's the man with the line, "What nut would support that?" I think the DCCC is hiring better writers-- it's certainly more memorable than "Sour on Schauer," and they only had to say it once.

But the part that really leaves a mark is the end. While they phrase it as a question, it's clear what they want you to think: Tim Walberg both doesn't get it AND doesn't care. It paints him as out-of-touch with everyday needs and unconcerned with what you're going through.

And, frankly, while the ad doesn't tell a balanced story on Walberg's sales tax, the closing of the ad is very accurate. Walberg didn't go to Washington to represent us, he went there to push a rigid, ideological agenda. The far-right conservatism he's embraced is one that doesn't have room for compassion or helping those in need-- at least, not when it comes to the federal government. Walberg doesn't realize that people are hurting, and when government is one of the tools in your toolbox, it's irresponsible not to use it.

Use it carefully, sure. But you've got to use it.

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HCAN Increases Ad Buy In Response To Walberg

Do you remember this ad from Health Care America NOW?

On October 20, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported:
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg's campaign is demanding that a television advertisement, which they called ``blatantly false,'' be pulled from the airwaves.

The advertisement was sponsored by Health Care for America Now!, an advocacy group that is made up of nonprofit and political organizations.


Walberg's campaign disseminated its attorney's letter Thursday that calls on the group to retract or correct the ad, and threatens potential legal action.
Legal action? I knew it was an effective ad, but apparently it hit a really sour note with the Walberg people.

The short version of their argument is that Walberg doesn't support letting insurance companies make the rules, but instead supports letting inter-state competition. As I said before, this doesn't let the insurance companies make the rules, but it does give them a bunch of options for which they want to follow, including giving them the option of rejecting coverage of pre-existing conditions.

As far as legal action, I'm not quite sure what action they could take and actually expect anyone to take them seriously. But they did get a response out of Health Care for America NOW. From a press release:

LANSING, MI -- Today, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) responded to Congressman Tim Walberg's threat to sue over a television ad by extending its television ad buy in Michigan and running a new print advertisement in the local weekly. HCAN is putting its hard-hitting ad – "Fighter" - back on the air in Congressman Walberg's district for three additional days and has taken out a full-page ad in the Tecumseh Herald asking "What Is Walberg Hiding?"

Last week, the Walberg campaign issued a press release announcing it intended legal action against Health Care for America Now for a television ad running in Michigan's 7th congressional district. The ad points out Congressman Walberg's record on health care – a record that indicates he clearly stands on the side of the insurance industry, rather than on the side of quality, affordable health care for all. The Walberg campaign then released a second notice demanding a retraction.

Contrary to Rep. Walberg's allegations, the television ad is 100% true, and HCAN's new print advertisement running in the October 23rd edition of the Tecumseh Herald spells out the proof once again.

You can see the ad they put in the Tecumseh Herald here.

I'm glad to see that Health Care for America NOW isn't letting up on this. On the substance of issues, Tim Walberg is wrong, and it has the added benefit of being bad politics.

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Ann Arbor News Endorses Schauer

Although Ann Arbor isn't in the 7th District, the Ann Arbor News still serves as the main newspaper for western Washtenaw County, a vote-rich battleground for this year's congressional race. And although Washtenaw County is solidly Democratic, thanks to Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor News itself is a rather conservative paper. For instance, in 2004, they endorsed President George W. Bush (R), while Senator John Kerry went on to carry the county 63-35.

In 2006, the newspaper chose not to endorse between Renier and Walberg, judging Walberg too radical and Renier too, well, incompetent. Here's what they said about Walberg last time:
Walberg's entrenched conservative stances on virtually every issue, from abortion to Iraq, offer no room for compromise - and that ideological rigidity should have no place in Congress. His unwillingness to engage in the necessary give and take of governance makes him an untenable choice.
This year, it's different. In their October 24, 2008 issue, the Ann Arbor News endorsed state Senator Mark Schauer over Congressman Tim Walberg:

Both candidates are bright, and are hard-working lawmakers who understand the importance of constituent service. Schauer knows how to get things done and is more likely to intervene and seek aid for companies, in part because he is comfortable in that pragamatic role and he doesn't have to jump the free-market hurdle that slows Walberg.

We're uncomfortable with Schauer because of his inability or his unwillingness to admit that tax hikes he typically would support will hurt the very companies he is trying to help in the district, and those are the small- and medium-sized companies that tend to be the best creators of jobs. And, we're unsure if he doesn't get that fact or simply is trying to spin himself as something he isn't.

Nevertheless, we're endorsing Schauer. His pragmatism works, and we think he will do a better job of representing the area of Washtenaw County that is in this district.
You could tell that it hurt them to do that. Even so, the conservative Ann Arbor News endorsed the Democratic nominee in the 7th District race. That's a big deal.

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LSJ Endorses Schauer

The Lansing State Journal is a great resource for news on state government and the Lansing area, including Eaton County. They've watched Mark Schauer in Lansing up-close, and they've watched as Tim Walberg embarrasses his district in Washington. On Saturday, October 25, 2008, the Lansing State Journal endorsed Mark Schauer:
Voters in Michigan's 7th Congressional District have watched one of the nation's highest profile contests between incumbent Republican Tim Walberg and Democrat Mark Schauer.

The contrasts between the two are deep; campaign rhetoric has been deafening.

But a careful review of the issues leads to a clear choice. The LSJ Editorial Board endorses Mark Schauer for the seat.

They also have a fairly decent response to Walberg's attacks on taxes:

The 2007 budget battle in the Michigan Legislature was messy, but Schauer took his leadership responsibility seriously and joined politicians on both sides of the aisle in creating and supporting a compromise.

Walberg now uses that compromise to label Schauer as a tax-and-spend Democrat who has run off Michigan jobs.

Voters should see that shallow partisan rhetoric for what it is. The United States faces a $438 billion spending deficit according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office earlier this month (a figure that doesn't include the $700 billion authorized to stabilize the nation's financial crisis). It's a budget gap that makes Michigan's $1.75 billion shortfall for fiscal 2008 look like pocket change.

The 7th District will best be served by a level-headed lawmaker who has demonstrated the ability to partner with politicians of both parties to carve out difficult solutions to government's challenges.

You can read the whole piece (and the angry comments) here.

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Battle Creek Enquirer Endorses Schauer

It's not a huge surprise... From what I hear about Battle Creek's relationship with Mark Schauer, there would probably be rioting if they didn't do this. Nevertheless, it's important to note that the Battle Creek Enquirer endorsed state Senator Mark Schauer over Congressman Tim Walberg in the October 24, 2008 issue:
When it comes to the 7th Congressional District race, we endorse Democrat MARK SCHAUER over first-term incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg.

Schauer has long been a thoughtful, moderate representative of our community, first as a Battle Creek city commissioner, then as a state representative and currently as a state senator. That is why we don't recognize the "scary" and "dangerous" caricature portrayed in anti-Schauer campaign ads. As a lawmaker, Schauer usually has taken the time to listen to both sides of an argument, trying to forge consensus about what is best for constituents.
It's a good endorsement, and you can read the whole thing here.

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Detroit Free Press Endorses Schauer

Like the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press isn't a 7th District newspaper and isn't all that widely read in the district, compared to local dailies. But it does help shape opinion in the state, and an endorsement does carry weight-- in particular, with the state and national groups that are looking to handicap races in Michigan. The Free Press tends to be more left-leaning than the conservative News, but it's also the most-read newspaper in Michigan.

In the October 24, 2008, issue, the Free Press discussed the historically low grade of challengers in Michigan's congressional races, and then highlighted and endorsed Mark Schauer and Gary Peters as bucking that trend.
No matter what shape the state is in or how much Michigan voters gripe about Washington, they have a pattern of retaining their representatives in Congress. It's pretty tough to knock off an incumbent on these peninsulas. The result is challengers who are sometimes unqualified, usually underfinanced, and generally unable to offer assets equivalent to the experience and seniority that matter so much in the Washington power structure.

This year, however, two challengers have made the case.

In the 9th District, which spans Oakland County from Farmington Hills north through Pontiac, the Free Press endorses Democrat GARY PETERS of Bloomfield Hills over eight-term incumbent Republican Joe Knollenberg of Bloomfield Township. In the 7th District, which encompasses all or most of seven southern lower Michigan counties, state Sen. MARK SCHAUER, D-Battle Creek, would do a better job than incumbent Republican Tim Walberg of Tipton has managed in his first term.


As for the 7th District contest, Schauer, 47, has been in the state Legislature since 1997, and, unlike archconservative Walberg, believes that government can do more to help and protect people than just cut taxes and get out of their way. He has done considerable ground-level work to bring businesses and jobs to the Battle Creek area and says that securing health care coverage for all Americans is "an economic issue as well as a moral issue."

Schauer would set a "safe timetable" for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, while Walberg wants to achieve victory.


Walberg's first term was notable in part for a press release he issued taking credit for a federal grant to build a new runway at Battle Creek's airport -- in a bill that Walberg voted against. He explained that the full bill contained too much pork barrel spending. The League of Conservation Voters made Walberg a member of its 2008 "Dirty Dozen" in Congress for his record on environmental issues.

Walberg has certainly been true to his principles -- the American Conservative Union gave him a 100% rating last year -- but the 7th District would be better served by electing Mark Schauer to Congress on Nov. 4.

You can read the whole endorsement here.

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Adrian Daily Telegram Endorses Walberg

It's not a huge surprise, since the paper leans right anyway, it's the only daily newspaper in Lenawee County, and it's endorsed Tim Walberg in the past. Nevertheless, it's worth mentioning that Adrian's Daily Telegram endorsed Congressman Tim Walberg in it's October 24, 2008 issue:
In Michigan’s 7th Congressional District race between Tim Walberg and Mark Schauer, playing up the candidates’ differing views on TV has been like shooting fish in a barrel. In real life, however, the actions of Rep. Walberg in Washington have turned out to be consistent and practical, and that is why voters should re-elect Walberg on Nov. 4.
The editorial commends Walberg for what he's done in Congress (including many things I've criticized him for-- and I stand by all of my criticism), and then proceeds to call Mark Schauer a "big-government liberal." Yeah.

If you're interested, you can read the whole editorial.

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Detroit News Endorses Walberg

The Detroit News isn't a 7th District newspaper, but like it's rival the Free Press, it's still read throughout the state. An endorsement by the paper means less to voters than, say, the local dailies that cover the district, but more to the groups that are handicapping the race, particularly those from a conservative perspective. I discussed all of this in the post on the Free Press endorsement.

In 2006, the News refused to endorse Tim Walberg, judging him too "extreme," and opting for the comparatively safe Libertarian Robert Hutchinson.

This time around, they've judged Walberg to be a standard Bush Republican-- which, in the eyes of the Detroit News, is a good thing. They've endorsed Congressman Tim Walberg for re-election.

Meh. You can't win 'em all.

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Walberg... Spells His Own Name Wrong?

Every now and then, a politician does something stupid that doesn't actually matter, but makes us all feel better about ourselves. When Barack Obama accidentally said he had visited "fifty-seven states," he didn't actually mean it. He was tired and he misspoke.

But it's fun to make fun of that anyway, just like it's fun to make fun of a minor mistake made by Congressman Tim Walberg, which the Schauer campaign jumped on, while noting a previous mistake:
Tim "A in English" Walberg continues to struggle with spelling

BATTLE CREEK—Earlier this year, Congressman Tim Walberg was recognized at the U.S. Capitol by U.S. English, Inc. and honored with an "A in English" award based on his votes for English-only legislation. Unfortunately, the press release announcing the news included an unfortunate spelling error, referring to the Congressman's "constitutents": [Link]

A recent fundraising letter sent out by the Walberg campaign contained another unfortunate spelling error – this time it was the Congressman's own name (see attached).

"Hey, we all make typos sometimes," said Schauer spokesman Zack Pohl. "It's no big deal – they could've spelled the Congressman's last name B-U-S-H and nobody would be able to tell the difference."
(Emphasis added.)

And before anyone says anything, it wasn't just some staffer mis-typing something. This was a handwritten fundraising appeal which was passed on to the Schauer campaign. Shown below, Walberg spells his name two different ways:


Now, the actual story here is the panicked, last-minute fundraising appeal for "anything you can send," but that's not nearly as much fun as the spelling error.

Then again, I have a tough to spell last name too, so I understand, Congressman Walberg.

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Tim Walberg's Pre-General Fundraising

On October 23, 2008, Walberg for Congress filed the Pre-General report with the Federal Election Commission. It covers the period from October 1 to October 15.

Column A
This Period
Column B
11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized74151.00
(ii) Unitemized15470.82
(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals89621.82917623.61
(b) Political Party Commitees5125.0018527.80
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS)63020.00719394.76
(d) The Candidate0.00500.00
(e) Total Contributions (11(a)(iii) + (b) + (c))157766.821656046.17
12. Transfers From Other Authorized Committees0.0022157.62
13. Loans
(a) Made Or Guaranteed By The Candidate0.000.00
(b) All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loans ((a) + (b))0.000.00
14. Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 0.0013023.89
15. Other Receipts0.007802.85
16. Total Receipts (11(e) + 12 + 13(c) + 14 + 15) 157766.821699030.53
17. Operating Expenditures437012.161378633.69
18. Transfers to Other Authorized Committees0.000.00
19. Loan Repayments:
(a) Of Loans Made or Guaranteed by the Candidate0.000.00
(b) Of All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loan Repayments ((a) + (b)) 0.000.00
20. Refunds of Contributions To:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other Than Political Committees0.002350.00
(b) Political Party Committees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 0.00294.12
(d) Total Contribution Refunds (28(a) + (b) + (c)) 0.002644.12
21. Other Disbursements0.00499.00
22. Total Disbursements (17 + 18 + 19(c) + 20(d) + 21) 437012.161381776.81
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period691635.12
24. Total Receipts This Period (line 16) 157766.821699030.53
25. Subtotal (23 + 24) 849401.94
26. Total Disbursements This Period (line 22) 437012.161381776.81
27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period (25 - 26) 412389.78

In the fifteen-day period, Walberg raised $157,766.82. Of that, $89,621.82 came from individual donors, or about 57 percent. Included in that is $5,000 from the Republican National Committee. This brought his total fundraising for the cycle up to that point to $1,699,030.53.

In the same period, Walberg spent $437,012.16. This included a $42,000 mailing and about $260,000 spent on "ads."

At the close of the period, Walberg had $412,389.78 cash-on-hand. This is just 56 percent of Schauer's cash-on-hand. Schauer entered the final portion of the campaign with nearly twice as much money as Walberg.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot's Chris Gautz looked at some notable contributors to the Walberg campaign during this period. It's interesting reading.

Although significantly more than former Congressman Nick Smith's mere $125,506 raised in his 2002 reelection campaign and nearly twice former Congressman Joe Schwarz's $891,845 in 2004, Walberg only slightly outraised Schwarz's $1,608,883 for the 2006 Republican primary. Walberg's fundraising appears consistent with a Republican in a tough race, unlike the extraordinary records set by Schauer.

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Mark Schauer's Pre-General Fundraising

On October 23, 2008, Schauer for Congress filed the Pre-General report with the Federal Election Commission. It covers the period from October 1 to October 15.

Column A
This Period
Column B
11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized136838.50
(ii) Unitemized28022.87
(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals164861.371329405.89
(b) Political Party Commitees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS)58592.36631647.23
(d) The Candidate0.000.00
(e) Total Contributions (11(a)(iii) + (b) + (c))223453.731961053.12
12. Transfers From Other Authorized Committees2923.8743760.85
13. Loans
(a) Made Or Guaranteed By The Candidate0.000.00
(b) All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loans ((a) + (b))0.000.00
14. Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 0.000.00
15. Other Receipts0.0011772.88
16. Total Receipts (11(e) + 12 + 13(c) + 14 + 15) 226377.602016586.85
17. Operating Expenditures247338.141155383.32
18. Transfers to Other Authorized Committees100000.00120000.00
19. Loan Repayments:
(a) Of Loans Made or Guaranteed by the Candidate0.000.00
(b) Of All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loan Repayments ((a) + (b)) 0.000.00
20. Refunds of Contributions To:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other Than Political Committees300.005100.00
(b) Political Party Committees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 0.001400.00
(d) Total Contribution Refunds (28(a) + (b) + (c)) 300.006500.00
21. Other Disbursements0.00700.00
22. Total Disbursements (17 + 18 + 19(c) + 20(d) + 21) 347638.141282583.32
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period856148.96
24. Total Receipts This Period (line 16) 226377.602016586.85
25. Subtotal (23 + 24) 1082526.56
26. Total Disbursements This Period (line 22) 347638.141282583.32
27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period (25 - 26) 734888.42

In the fifteen-day period covered by the report, Mark Schauer raised $223,453.73, plus almost $3,000 transferred from the joint committee with 9th District Democrat Gary Peters. Of the contributions he received, $164,861.37 came from individual donors, or about 74 percent. The Schauer campaign raised a total of $2,016,586.85 for the entire cycle up to that date.

The Schauer for Congress committee also spent $347,638.14 in that period, including a $101,409.82 media buy and a $100,000.00 transfer to the Michigan Democratic Party.

As a result of these expenditures, the Schauer campaign's cash-on-hand as of October 15 was $734,888.42.

Chris Gautz at the Jackson Citizen Patriot picked out some significant contributors during this filing period. It's interesting reading.

The total dollar amount raised for every Democratic nominee in the 7th District since the 2002 cycle (when the current boundaries were adopted) and prior to 2008 is $115,718. That is, the total amount of money raised for the 2002, 2004, and 2006 nominees was $115,718. In 15 days, Mark Schauer raised almost twice that, and for the whole cycle, has raised raised that more than 17 times over.

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Tim Walberg's Third Quarter Fundraising

On October 15, 2008, Tim Walberg's campaign filed their third quarter fundraising report with the Federal Elections Commission. It covers the period from July 1, 2008 to September 30, 2008.

Column A
This Period
Column B
11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized141965.00
(ii) Unitemized41707.93
(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals183672.93828001.79
(b) Political Party Commitees4500.0013402.80
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS)121368.70656374.76
(d) The Candidate0.00500.00
(e) Total Contributions (11(a)(iii) + (b) + (c))309541.631498279.35
12. Transfers From Other Authorized Committees21410.1222157.62
13. Loans
(a) Made Or Guaranteed By The Candidate0.000.00
(b) All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loans ((a) + (b))0.000.00
14. Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 151.0013023.89
15. Other Receipts1815.887802.85
16. Total Receipts (11(e) + 12 + 13(c) + 14 + 15) 332918.631541263.71
17. Operating Expenditures495921.85941621.53
18. Transfers to Other Authorized Committees0.000.00
19. Loan Repayments:
(a) Of Loans Made or Guaranteed by the Candidate0.000.00
(b) Of All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loan Repayments ((a) + (b)) 0.000.00
20. Refunds of Contributions To:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other Than Political Committees0.002350.00
(b) Political Party Committees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 0.00294.12
(d) Total Contribution Refunds (28(a) + (b) + (c)) 0.002644.12
21. Other Disbursements499.00499.00
22. Total Disbursements (17 + 18 + 19(c) + 20(d) + 21) 496420.85944764.65
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period855137.34
24. Total Receipts This Period (line 16) 332918.631541263.71
25. Subtotal (23 + 24) 1188055.97
26. Total Disbursements This Period (line 22) 496420.85944764.65
27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period (25 - 26) 691635.12

In this quarter, Walberg raised $332,918.63, with $183,672.93, or about 55 percent, coming from individual donors. The rest came from political action committees or some organ of the Republican Party.

In the same quarter, Walberg spent $496,420.85, slightly more than half of all expenditures in the cycle up to that point. Many of the more expensive purchases are for "advertising" or "production," reflecting the start of serious general election campaigning.

At the end of the quarter, Walberg had $691,635.12 cash-on-hand.

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Mark Schauer's Third Quarter Fundraising

On October 15, 2008, the Schauer for Congress campaign filed their third quarter fundraising report with the Federal Elections Commission. It covers the period from July 1, 2008 to September 30, 2008.

Column A
This Period
Column B
11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized257644.77
(ii) Unitemized47889.62
(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals305534.391164544.52
(b) Political Party Commitees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS)123419.87573054.87
(d) The Candidate0.000.00
(e) Total Contributions (11(a)(iii) + (b) + (c))428954.261737599.39
12. Transfers From Other Authorized Committees25918.0840836.98
13. Loans
(a) Made Or Guaranteed By The Candidate0.000.00
(b) All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loans ((a) + (b))0.000.00
14. Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 0.000.00
15. Other Receipts3779.6911772.88
16. Total Receipts (11(e) + 12 + 13(c) + 14 + 15) 458652.031790209.25
17. Operating Expenditures530289.52908045.18
18. Transfers to Other Authorized Committees0.0020000.00
19. Loan Repayments:
(a) Of Loans Made or Guaranteed by the Candidate0.000.00
(b) Of All Other Loans0.000.00
(c) Total Loan Repayments ((a) + (b)) 0.000.00
20. Refunds of Contributions To:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other Than Political Committees500.004800.00
(b) Political Party Committees0.000.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 400.001400.00
(d) Total Contribution Refunds (28(a) + (b) + (c)) 900.006200.00
21. Other Disbursements0.00700.00
22. Total Disbursements (17 + 18 + 19(c) + 20(d) + 21) 531189.52934945.18
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period928686.45
24. Total Receipts This Period (line 16) 458652.031790209.25
25. Subtotal (23 + 24) 1387338.48
26. Total Disbursements This Period (line 22) 531189.52934945.18
27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period (25 - 26) 856148.96

In this quarter, Schauer raised $458,652.03, with $305,534.39 coming from individual donors, or about 67 percent. The rest came from political action committees or other, similar groups. For the entire election cycle up to the end of September, Schauer raised $1,790,209.25.

In the same quarter, Schauer spent $531,189.52. This accounts for more than half of all their spending in this election cycle, including large "media production" costs-- presumably, television ads-- reflecting the start of the general election period.

The campaign finished the quarter with $856,148.96 cash-on-hand.

This quarter is the fifth straight quarter in which Mark Schauer has out-raised Tim Walberg.

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Fox News: Walberg Will Lose

Ouch. It's got to hurt when Fox News, always willing to put a more optimistic spin on things for Republicans, says Tim Walberg will lose:
MI 7: Rep. Tim Walberg (R) is one of the most-endangered Republicans this cycle in a contest against Mark Schauer. Expect a Democratic win. Especially after McCain pulled out of Michigan.
This won't mean a thing on Election Day, however. You've still got to get out there and help get out the vote for Mark Schauer.

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Larry Sabato: Schauer Will Win

(Thanks to the multiple people that e-mailed me about this.)

On his "Crystal Ball" website, Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, published his "next-to-last" predictions for Election Day 2008. They're pretty good for the Democrats all around, but here's the part that matters to me the most:

I don't know if you can see it on there, but "MI-07 (Walberg)" is under the "Democratic Pick-up" column. Yeah, it's just one prediction, and it won't matter at all in five days. But it's good to see anyway.

Mind you, this is no time to get overconfident. Mark Schauer is going to need everyone's help to get out the vote.

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US News & World Report: GOP Thinks Walberg Will Lose

This showed up all over the internet, but is definitely worth repeating here. A Republican memo leaked to U.S. News & World Report had the expected losses for the GOP on Election Day:
The document provided to Whispers is no gag: It comes from one of the key House GOP vote counters. The source called it a "death list." The tally shows several different ratings of 66 House Republicans in difficult races or open seats held by retiring Republicans. "Rating 1" finds 10 Republicans "likely gone." Those districts are New York 13, Alaska, Arizona 1, Virginia 11, New York 25, Illinois 11, Florida 24, Michigan 7, Nevada 3, and North Carolina 8.
(Emphasis added.)

Ouch. Congressman Walberg, your party says you're going to lose!

Mind you, now isn't the time to be overconfident. Go sign up to volunteer to get out the vote!

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DCCC Poll: Schauer 43, Walberg 35

Catching up... -- Fitzy

For the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Benenson Strategy Group conducted a poll over October 6 and 7, 2008. With a margin of error of 4.9 percent, here's what they found:

Mark Schauer (D) - 43
Tim Walberg (R-inc.) - 35

The press release didn't release details like sample size or, for that matter, if they asked any other questions, and I'm mentioning this late enough that I feel silly asking for those details now. Suffice it to say, this seems more or less in line with the poll the Schauer campaign released at about the same time.

Right now, I'm inclined to believe that both polls are accurate, and Schauer is leading by a respectable margin, with a lot of undecideds. Why? It's been weeks, and the Walberg folks haven't released their own counter-poll. If they had better-looking data than this, you'd better believe they'd release it.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

19 Days Out

I've been sick and extremely busy in my non-Walberg Watch life. These things combined make blogging a low priority. But I'm back now, hopefully more consistently, for the next 19 days.

I'm going to have substantive posts coming up soon, but for the moment, I'm going to leave you with this:

There are 19 days left between now and Election Day. In that time, a single volunteer with Mark Schauer's campaign could easily make 400 phone calls or 200 doors volunteering just twice a week for two hours each time. Those are very reasonable numbers for just one person, working at a reasonable pace.

If you can't give up two hours of your time, you can write a letter to the editor, detailing why Mark Schauer is the right choice for Michigan's 7th District. You can tell your friends and neighbors about the irresponsible votes cast by Tim Walberg. You can spend five minutes calling up your college-age child to make sure he or she has gotten an absentee ballot.

There's a lot of work to be done between now and Election Day, and the Get Out The Vote effort is going to be an enormous challenge, especially in a district as large as Michigan's 7th District.

It's not about chipping in $20 or putting a bumper sticker on your car anymore. We've reachd the serious part of the campaign. It's up to you. What are you going to do to help elect Mark Schauer?

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Walberg DID Call Social Security "Socialism"!

(Thanks to the reader who e-mailed me about this.)

Some regular readers of this blog and of Chris Gautz's work at the Jackson Citizen Patriot website remember this advertisement put out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

Right from the start, the ad cites an article in the Daily Telegram from 2004 in which Walberg calls Social Security "socialism." It's certainly not a good quote for Walberg-- as the ad notes, a lot of people rely on Social Security, and the negative connotation "socialism" carries is likely to offend a lot of people.

Chris Gautz was doubtful about the accuracy of the quote, mainly because, as a former employee of the Telegram, he had thought he would remember a quote that explosive. Although I probably would have read that article in 2004, my memory for these sorts of things is awful, so I deferred judgment to a later date.

But thanks to the magic of the internet and the wonders of active readers, Chris brought us the answer: Walberg did call Social Security "socialism"!

After reading for myself the full context of the quote, it would seem to lend credibility to what the DCCC was trying to say. But click below to see the portion of the article that was referenced and judge for yourself.

Here's the text of the article:
ADRIAN -- Tuesday's debate between Republicans and Democrats running for the 7th District Congressional seat allowed candidates to inform the public about their views, but led to little debate.

When a panelist asked the candidates about their views regarding Social Security reform and privatization, Republican Tim Walberg and Democrat Drew Walker openly debated the subject briefly.

Walker said the privatization of Social Security in the wake of corporate scandals and unstable stock prices could lead to individuals putting their retirement savings at risk in uninsured private accounts.

"What an incredible scandal; I would certainly never take part in that," Walker said. "Social Security is one of the foundations of our society for getting older."

The question then turned to Walberg, who began by expressing his feelings about Walker's statement.

"Wow, I just heard socialism at its finest," said Walberg, a former state representative. "Oh come on, that's offensive," Walker replied.

"That's defined as socialism when the government is required to take care of all of us," said Walberg, followed by audience laughter.
So, yes, now-Congressman Tim Walberg called Social Security "socialism" in 2004.

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Walberg For Privatizing Social Security Before He Was Against It Even Though He's For It

At last night's debate in Adrian, Congressman Tim Walberg and state Senator Mark Schauer talked about privatizing Social Security. Here's what happened, via the Jackson Citizen Patriot's Chris Gautz:

They also clashed over Social Security, with Schauer saying Walberg supports privatization.

"No I don't," Walberg said.

Schauer then offered to read Walberg his statement to CitPat reporter Holly Klaft in expressing his support for private accounts.

Schauer said Walberg's plan is dangerous and that "Social Security is not in crisis."

and Holly Klaft:

Schauer said the first-term congressman's plan to fix the nation's Social Security system by creating private accounts would be ``devastating.''

Walberg said there is no effort at this time to privatize Social Security.

He has said he would support giving future workers the option of putting part of their payroll taxes in personal accounts.

And, finally, the Schauer campaign has this quote:
"I have never taken a position to privatize Social Security."
Now, I haven't gotten my hands on any audio from the debate (yet), so I can't give you the unfiltered exchange. But let's suppose that this is all that happened.

For starters, when it says:
He has said he would support giving future workers the option of putting part of their payroll taxes in personal accounts.
Well, Congressman Walberg, that is privatization of Social Security. At least, that's the sort of plan generally accepted as privatizing Social Security. People get into trouble by relying on Wikipedia too much, but the article on this debate, while not the best, has a decent explanation of what "personal accounts" means-- namely, that individuals could take money they pay into the Social Security system and invest it in stocks and bonds.

So, Congressman Walberg, when this happened:

They also clashed over Social Security, with Schauer saying Walberg supports privatization.

"No I don't," Walberg said.

And this:
"I have never taken a position to privatize Social Security."
Well, you weren't exactly being honest. And then this:

Walberg said there is no effort at this time to privatize Social Security.

That's basically true. No one's really been pushing that idea lately. It basically died in 2005, due to lack of support and a lack of political capital for President Bush. But that didn't stop Tim Walberg from supporting it in 2006, so much so that he put it on his website:
Tim supports President Bush’s efforts to expand our ownership society by allowing younger workers to voluntarily invest a portion of their payroll taxes and allowing the money to be secured in personal investment accounts.
And in 2004, he also put on his website:
Tim Walberg believes Social Security benefits must be protected and younger workers should have the option of investing a portion of their payroll taxes in stocks, bonds, or money market funds. Under this reform, younger workers will earn a higher rate of return and likely retire with far more funds than under the current system.
Those claims are a little dubious, but that's beside the point-- in 2004 and 2006, Walberg was clearly on the record as supporting privatizing Social Security.

And then, in September, from the Detroit News:
Walberg, R-Tipton, supports changing the program so younger workers could choose to invest a portion of their Social Security money in private investment accounts.
And this from the Citizen Patriot the next day:

Kennelly, who is president of the National Committee To Preserve Social Security and Medicare, which endorsed Schauer in his bid for Congress, said lawmakers should avoid looking to privatization as a solution.

Privatization would put Social Security money seniors rely on into private accounts that are at the mercy of the market, she said.

She said many Social Security recipients get a little more than $1,000 per month.

Schauer said Social Security is an efficient system that must be preserved. He has said he would oppose any efforts to privatize it and would work to make sure Social Security is available for the long term.

Walberg said he supports giving future workers the option of saving part of their payroll taxes in personal accounts.

My point, of course, is to say that yes, Congressman Walberg, you do support privatizing Social Security. You didn't call it that, but Holly Klaft equated your plan with privatization, and we didn't hear any calls for a retraction. And just a few days ago, Chris Gautz made the same connection between "privatization" and the Walberg plan:

Also in the ad, it points out Walberg's support of "privatization," which is another way of saying he supports giving future workers the option of saving part of their payroll taxes in personal accounts. Of course those accounts could be subject to the whims of the market, and especially this week, might not be the most popular idea.

So, Congressman, when you said:
"I have never taken a position to privatize Social Security."
well, that was just a lie. You have taken a position in favor of privatizing Social Security. The only thing you haven't done is used the magical word "privatize."

Needless to say, the Schauer campaign is jumping on this (and rightly so):

Schauer has a clear record of fighting to protect guaranteed Social Security benefits

BATTLE CREEK—During last night’s debate at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Congressman Tim Walberg once again lied about his stance on Social Security, saying, “I have never taken a position to privatize Social Security.” In fact, less than a month ago Walberg told the Jackson Citizen Patriot that he, “supports giving future workers the option of saving part of their payroll taxes in personal accounts.” [Citizen Patriot, 9/9/08]

Such a policy would slash benefits by more than 40 percent for future retirees, replace guaranteed Social Security benefits with risky private accounts, drain trillions of dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund, and increase America’s debt to foreign nations by about $5 trillion over 20 years. [;]

“Tim Walberg can call it whatever he wants, but the bottom line is that private accounts would effectively kill Social Security as we know it,” said Schauer spokesman Zack Pohl. “At a time when the financial meltdown has cost more than $2 trillion in lost retirement funds, working families and seniors can’t afford to put Wall Street CEOs in charge of our Social Security benefits.”


Walberg also supported private accounts for Social Security during his 2006 campaign: "I support efforts to expand our ownership society by allowing younger workers to voluntarily invest a portion of their payroll taxes and allowing the money to be secured in personal investment accounts. Once the system is fully transitioned into personal investment accounts, the system will involve real savings and real rates of return.” [Detroit News, 7/17/06]

Walberg has received more than $1 million in campaign support from the extreme Club for Growth, a group that also supports personal retirement accounts for Social Security. [Club for Growth Press Release, 8/8/06;]

In March 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney visited Battle Creek to support President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. That same week, Sen. Schauer hosted a town hall meeting with Congressman Sandy Levin to oppose Bush's privatization efforts. []

According to the Social Security Office of Policy Data, there are roughly 126,552 seniors in the 7th district who receive Social Security benefits. []

# # #

Come on, Congressman Walberg. If you really, honestly, truly believe that privatizing Social Security is the right thing to do, then say so and do it honestly. Defend your ideas for what they are. Right now, you're trying to have it both ways, and when people call you out on it, you lie. That's not acceptable.

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Health Care for America NOW Launches Ad Against Walberg

The fun part about living in a district with lots of national attention is that you get to learn all about political groups you'd never heard of before.

The Hill reports:

Healthcare for America Now, a union-backed liberal health reform advocacy group, is making a $4.3 million ad buy in support of Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates.

Over the next two weeks, the organization will run ads on TV and radio attacking Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and seven GOP congressional candidates for their views on healthcare.


Echoing talking points used by Obama and his campaign, the ads claim that McCain’s health reform plan would cause 20 million people to lose employer-sponsored health insurance because of changes he would make to how those benefits are taxed.


Similar ads will air in the states and districts of four incumbent Republican lawmakers: Sen. John Sununu (N.H.) and Reps. Ric Keller (Fla.), Randy Kuhl (N.Y.) and Tim Walberg (Mich.).


On top of the multimillion-dollar advertising buy, Healthcare for America Now will spend $500,000 on direct mail and telephone campaigning.
It will be interesting to see the kind of impact they might have on the campaign. Personally, I'd like to see all candidates talk about health care more, and, to his credit, it's something Mark Schauer rarely fails to mention.

With Health Care for America NOW, all I can hope is that the "telephone campaigning" doesn't include robocalls. Please, nobody likes those.

Here's the television ad they're running against Tim Walberg:

Ouch. Maybe I'm just a receptive audience, but I'd say that it's a pretty effective ad.

The bill they mention is HR 4460, the "Health Care Choice Act of 2007," of which Tim Walberg is a cosponsor. It was introduced but never made it out of committee, and for a good reason. The bill would allow health insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines, potentially opening you up to cheaper options, should you decide to purchase health insurance on your own.

However, by allowing health insurance companies to designate a "primary" state and making them exempt from the laws of all other "secondary" states in which they sell, that would mean insurers could choose as a "primary" state somewhere that, say, doesn't have a law requiring that they cover pre-existing conditions.

The ad says it would let the insurance companies "make the rules," and that's not quite true. It's more that it would let the insurance companies pick and choose which combination of rules they want to follow. (Thanks to Wikipedia and this blog for guiding me in the right direction.)

Anyway, that's the policy behind the ad. Now, back to the politics.

In addition to the television ad, Congressman Walberg is featured on a website they launched, Walberg's page, with a side-by-side comparison to Mark Schauer, leaves the reader with one clear conclusion-- Tim Walberg's not on your side. They also include a .pdf file with a good summary of Walberg's record on health care. It's certainly a must-read for anyone planning to talk with friends or relatives, and should be added to the talking points for Schauer volunteers going door-to-door.

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NRCC Releases Attack Ad

Not content to just fund Tim Walberg's attack ads, on October 7, 2008, the National Republican Congressional Committee released an attack ad of its own against Mark Schauer:

As the always-observant Chris Gautz points out, there's more than one side to the kicked-off-committee story:

More specifically than the ad states, Schauer was kicked off the Senate Campaign and Election Oversight Committee allegedly because he missed four meetings, all of which took place at locations around the state, where no voting was going to occur.

The Republican chairwoman, Sen. Michelle McManus booted Schauer, but not fellow Republican members of the committee who also missed a number of hearings.

The Democrats, and Schauer said this was a clearly partisan move, and retribution for action on the service tax.

Maybe I'm just a partisan Democrat, but I remember thinking at the time that it seemed like Senator McManus had other motives than just encouraging good attendance. But really, that line of attack strikes me as too inside-baseball to resonate with voters. When people are worried about jobs and losing their homes, "Mark Schauer is a troublemaker who got kicked off his committee" doesn't seem like it'll matter all that much to me.

You know, I can even see it going further the other way, too-- John McCain's popularity was partly from his "maverick" image, and getting kicked off your committee is one way to show your independence from the status quo. Maybe Tim Walberg should have tried harder to get kicked off of a committee...

But now I'm just getting silly. It's a creative ad, but I don't think it'll do anything other than reinforce the "largest tax increase" narrative. But if Mark Schauer's internal polling is to be believed, that's a narrative that's just not working. Schauer's taking the lead and is more trusted on taxes than Tim Walberg.

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