Thursday, November 18, 2010

We Need our Representative to Work for All of Us

Tim Walberg just doesn't get it. Almost half of the 7th district voters in the November 2 election did not vote for him. Yet he's once again parroting the Club for Growth talking points that show he favors the big money interests. For example: "I will be signing onto a bill as soon as I can to repeal 'ObamaCare' and restore the Bush tax cuts,"

Here's what I'd say to him:

Mr. Walberg, do some homework between now and January. There are many specific provisions of the health care bill that the majority of Americans want to see preserved. And, by the way, its proper name is the Affordable Care Act and it was passed by the Congress not the President, after much negotiation with Republicans. You haven't changed your plan since the last time you were in Congress. It features expanding the use of health savings accounts and putting a cap on non-economic damages and reducing "frivolous" medical lawsuits.

One big problem with your plan is that most of your constituents can't afford high deductible health savings accounts. Could the fact that those accounts are managed by big financial companies be why they appeal to you and fellow Republicans? And why would you feature making changes in medical malpractice as the key component of your plan for reducing health care costs? Malpractice insurance is a very small piece of the health care cost picture. In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that limiting malpractice liability would reduce total national health care spending by only about one-half of 1 percent. The Affordable Care Act made changes in seven areas that will reduce the cost of health care over time. Yes, changes that would lower malpractice insurance premiums could save some money but there are many, many more important things to address when it comes to making sure all citizens have access to affordable health care.

And about "restoring Bush tax cuts" (or to be more accurate, extending them). According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans would add more than $36 billion to the federal deficit next year. Households earning more than $1 million a year would get nearly $31 billion in tax breaks in 2011, for an average tax cut per household of about $100,000. Mr. Walberg, this will not sit well with voters who are worried about the national debt, some of whom could work for 30 years and not earn $1 million.

You've said you are planning to pickup where you left off before being ousted by Mark Schauer in 2008. Well, things have changed in the past two years. Your plans weren't worth much in 2006 and they're worth even less now.

You've been quoted as saying, "I love meeting with constituents on a level that isn't scripted," and that you'll hold lots of meetings with constituents so you can be open and receptive to the needs of the district. Well, I attended some of those "unscripted" meetings last time around, and all I heard were Club for Growth talking points. We deserve better this time around. We need a representative in Congress who has breadth of knowledge, flexibility in thinking and the ability to compromise. You will have to prove that this time is different, that you have the what it takes to ensure that our district, Michigan and the country are well-served. This is 2010 not 2006.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That’s one way to send a message…

…but maybe not the only or the best way.

Was it really necessary to “send a message to Washington” by doing the electoral equivalent of tossing a brick through a window?

Come January 2011, as a voter in the 7th Congressional district, I will mourn the loss of Mark Schauer as my Representative. He’s hard working, intelligent, a good listener and acts with integrity to do what’s in the best interest of the district.

The message I want to send to Congressman Schauer is that people with the qualities he has are wanted and needed in government.

Were the message-senders on Election Day thinking about what they would lose by making the choices they did? Did those who didn’t bother to vote understand what the consequences would be? I don’t think so.

The next two years will be the test of whether the kind of brick-tossing message that voters sent brings change that works for all of us, or just gives obstructionists license to continue acting in their own rather than our country's best interest.