Sunday, October 28, 2007
If you get a chance, check out Senator Mark Schauer's new website. Rather than the placeholder page it had been, this is a fully-functional website, and it looks pretty good-- certainly better than the 2006 Walberg and Renier websites.
It's a pretty design (which really does matter), and it makes use of a lot of the elements I wrote about before-- links to a Facebook page and YouTube videos, for instance. Really, it's a solid website.
I only have two complaints, which both may be resolved as time goes by. First, the issues section seems kind of light. I don't necessarily disagree with anything, but there's not a lot of the substance we love to see. But I'll give him a pass on that... Tim Walberg's issues page never had any substance. Second, there's no campaign blog. I know it's early in the campaign, but it's never too early to start blogging and getting supporters active. A regularly-updated, well-run blog can be a great way of spreading information and soliciting ideas.
So, it's clear that the Schauer campaign will be investing in its internet operations, which is a good place to spend money. Overall, it's a great website.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Schauer Liveblog - 2PM Firedoglake
I meant to get this posted earlier, but life interfered... Sorry for it's lateness.
In about 20 minutes, Senator Mark Schauer is supposed to do a live blog chat, 2 to 4PM, on the national blog Firedoglake.
Why? Because he's being endorsed by the national Blue America PAC, which is pretty influential in the growing "netroots" movement.
I'll have more about all of this later today.
(Thanks to Michigan Liberal and others.)
UPDATE: You can read the liveblog thread here. Schauer raised $1,510.00 in individual contributions from through the Blue America ActBlue page-- not bad for one day. He answered a wide variety of questions, from "Did Senator Bruce Patterson really take a swing at you?" to serious discussions of policy. It's a good read.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Walberg Votes No On SCHIP Again, and Again, and...
I feel like I've written this post before, somehow...
Today, the House voted on the latest incarnation of the SCHIP reauthorization, which was re-worked to address concerns of people like Tim Walberg over illegal immigrants, adults, and higher-income families receiving coverage.
The latest version passed, with a vote of 265 to 142. That's not a veto-proof two-thirds, but it's pretty close.
Congressman Tim Walberg voted No, apparently unsatisfied with the changes.
The next step, if this version is vetoed (which it probably will be) would be a continuing resolution to fund SCHIP at current levels for another month or so. Otherwise, the program loses all funding after October 31st.
SCHIP - The Next Round
Bumped to the top of the page, since it's kind of important... - Fitzy
The Hill brings us the latest on efforts to pass an SCHIP reauthorization:
The revised measure will include provisions prohibiting coverage of adults, preventing families with incomes of 300 percent of the poverty level from qualifying for the program, and making it harder for illegal immigrants to sign up for the program.and finally,
Liberal activists are carrying out ad campaigns in the districts of seven House Republicans calling out the lawmakers for their votes against the SCHIP bills.Obviously, having not seen or read the compromise bill (actually, the second compromise... the original version was bigger than the one eventually passed and vetoed), I can't say whether or not it is good or bad. However, I can say that if it addresses the issues of adults on SCHIP, higher-income families, and illegal immigrants, Congressman Walberg really has no legitimate reason to vote against it. Those were his complaints, and the Democratic leadership says they've addressed them.
Please keep in mind, however, that in the bill Walberg voted against, all of his objections were already addressed. This would just be tougher language.
So, House Democrats have made moves to compromise. Will Congressman Walberg?
We'll find out tomorrow.
UPDATE: Er... we'll find out today. I hadn't realized it was after midnight!
College Democrats At Albion and Elsewhere
Hey, Albion College Democrats!
I'm sure you know about it already, but it's worth mentioning that the Michigan Federation of College Democrats is starting a bus tour around the state on October 27, and they'll be stopping by Albion College:
Thursday, Nov. 1 brings the tour to Albion College in the heart of the 7th District. From 10:00am-1:30pm the SFT will spend time talking to students and welcoming Sen. Mark Schauer to the event.That's the only event in the 7th District, but they'll also be stopping by the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University, and Grand Valley State University. A lot of 7th District students attend those schools (and others, of course), and they're close enough to the district that you can really make a difference. If you want to learn more, start here, and then contact your local College Democrats.
I just want to say now that the role of College Democrats (and even College Republicans) is incredibly important and under-appreciated. At a time when approval ratings for President Bush, Congress, and just about everyone else are at historic lows, it's hard to fight cynicism and convince young people that their voice can be heard. It's hard to teach faith in the process. Student groups like the College Democrats are essential to getting young people excited about politics.
And, as Chris Bowers has demonstrated, Republicans have already lost a generation of young people. It's up to the College Democrats to get them involved and active in the process, rather than apathetic and ignorant.
(By the way, if the College Democrats at any of the schools I named above, or any other, want to have some sort of partnership or connection with this blog, let me know. I don't have anything specific in mind, but I'm open to a lot of ideas.)
Small Business Investment Expansion Act - Walberg Votes No
As I continue to try to catch up with the Walberg Voting Record...
On September 27, 2007, the House of Representatives took up HR 3567, the Small Business Investment Expansion Act of 2007. A summary of the bill can be found here. The cost is given as less than a dollar per American in 2008.
There's a provision in the bill which allows more federal dollars to go toward businesses which have already have a certain amount of private money from venture capitalists, allowing the Small Business Administration's investment programs to help more companies.
At least, I think that's what it does. Part of the problem with the kind of blogging that I do is that I'm trying to educate myself on a wide variety of issues with which I am unfamiliar, all in my free time. (And not even using all of my free time, because, believe it or not, Fitzy tries to have a social life, too.)
So if there's someone out there that can make sense out of it, please, say so in the comments. I'd love to hear from an expert. I've seen arguments in favor and arguments against. Frankly, I'm not sure what's good or bad about this, and I'd love to hear from you. (Though please, if you do your own research, use less biased sources than the two I just gave you!)
What I do know, however, is that the vast majority of members of the House of Representatives seemed to think the bill was a good idea. It passed, by a vote of 325 to 72.
Congressman Tim Walberg voted No. He was the only member of the Michigan delegation to vote against the bill. Everyone else (except Congressman Dingell and Congressman Hoekstra-- they didn't vote) supported the bill.
So, either Congressman Walberg is a principled visionary, standing up for what's right, or obstinate and stubborn, and won't vote for something everyone else can agree is a good thing.
Based solely on what I've seen from him before, I'm going to guess it's the second one. But that's just me.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Tax Collection Responsibility Act of 2007 - Walberg Votes No
As I continue to try to catch up with the Walberg Voting Record...
On October 10, 2007, the House of Representatives voted on HR 3056, the Tax Collection Responsibility Act of 2007. A summary of the bill may be found here.
From my read of it, it looks like most of the bill is filled with simple, fairly uncontroversial reforms. For instance:
Since the U.S. Virgin Islands is an American possession (obviously), this seems to make sense. I'm sure there are arguments for and against, but I've got to think that this wasn't too controversial a move.
Other portions of the bill included increasing taxes on American expatriates who renounce their citizenship (apparently, that's an issue) and increasing penalties on individuals and companies that file incorrect information or fail to file certain forms.
The controversial bit of the bill comes here:
At first glance, this doesn't make sense. We want our government to collect its taxes, and debt collection agencies could help to squeeze the money out of folks trying to cheat the system. Right?
Well, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's website explains why that hasn't worked out very well:
Repeals IRS authority to enter into private debt collection contracts. The provision would repeal the 2004 provisions that give the IRS’s authority to enter into contracts with private companies to collect federal income taxes. Numerous cases have been identified that illustrate taxpayer harassment, abusive calling, and violations of taxpayer rights, the Fair Debt Collection Act, and taxpayer return disclosure protections. For example, one elderly couple was called 150 times, including five times a day, asking for a taxpayer. Within the first five calls, the debt collector knew that the taxpayer did not reside at the home. Calls continued for 27 more days with 1-7 calls per day. Other cases involve people in nursing homes, those serving in Iraq, innocent spouses and those subject to identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission has 130 complaints likely to involve the private tax debt contractors, and the Taxpayer Advocate has many more. With bipartisan support, the House has twice passed legislation to stop the private collection of federal taxes, most recently in the Roth amendment to the fiscal year 2007 Treasury Appropriations bill.A blog called taxgirl has more, from a 2006 post:
Obstensibly, the idea for this move towards privatization is to save taxpayer dollars. However, IRS officials claim that the move will actually be more expensive (up to 8 times moreso) and will result in fewer dollars collected (approximately 5 times less). The net difference to taxpayers? A projected $1.1 billion collection from private companies versus $87 billion from IRS revenue officers - if only they could hire more revenue officers. However, despite the economics, which are undisputed, Congress has refused to allow IRS to hire more revenue officers.So, private collection companies cost us more money and harass innocent people. It's probably best if we not give them any more contracts.
Now, since I don't know much about tax law, there's a chance that I might have missed some key element of the bill, or misrepresented something. If so, please speak up in the comments and educate me.
Until then, I'll go ahead and conclude that for the most part, it was probably a reasonable and fair piece of legislation.
Most of the House of Representatives seems to have agreed with me, too, because the bill passed, by a vote of 232 to 173.
Congressman Tim Walberg voted No.
I know that Congressman Walberg doesn't like the IRS and would rather replace all other taxes with a 23 percent sales tax. But besides that, is there a reason he voted against this bill?
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Affordable Housing - Walberg Votes No
The SCHIP vote got a lot of attention over the last couple of weeks, but the House of Representatives was busy with other projects, too.
Among them was HR 2895, the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2007. The bill would "establish the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the Treasury of the United States to provide for the construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of decent, safe, and affordable housing for low-income families." A summary from the Congressional Research Service, via GovTrack.us, may be found here.
The bill explains its own purposes:
As one might expect, Congressman Tim Walberg voted No. Michigan Republicans Fred Upton and Candice Miller joined the majority.
As Michigan Liberal user phikapbob says, after voting against SCHIP, apparently some Republicans must feel that "poor kids without health care shouldn't have homes either":
Isn't it possible, by looking at the record numbers of mortgage foreclosures this country is seeing, that many families are overextending themselves to pay for adequate housing? What kind of person votes against health care for the poor one week, then follows that up with a vote against providing a roof over those peoples' heads? If this gets through the Senate, does Bush dare veto another bill with strong bipartisan support? The War on the Working Class rages on, my friends.No real surprise, though. It's been clear from the start that Tim Walberg doesn't vote to help the people that work for a living. He's in it to help his Club for Growth supporters.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
SCHIP Veto Sustained
The House of Representatives just voted on overriding President Bush's veto of the SCHIP reauthorization bill. It failed to received a two-thirds majority.
The vote was 273 to 156 in support of overriding the veto. It would have taken 286 to override the veto.
They haven't announced it yet, but I can only assume from the numbers that Tim Walberg did not change his mind, and voted to support the president and oppose the children and about 80 percent of the country.
I'll have more updates later in the day.
UPDATE: The roll call vote can be seen here. Congressman Walberg did vote against overriding the veto, as expected.
I don't know what to say. I mean, I knew he wouldn't vote to override, but I still can't believe it.
Mark Schauer issued a brief statement:
"I'm disappointed that today a stubborn minority voted to provide political cover for President Bush instead of voting to provide health care coverage to thousands of children. The people of south central Michigan, the children of Michigan, deserve better."
Walberg Lies Again on SCHIP
Yesterday, state Senator Mark Schauer wrote a column for the Citizen Patriot in support of SCHIP. Now, it's Congressman Tim Walberg's turn, filling the pages of the Lansing State Journal.
Those nasty liberals! They're spreading lies about Tim!
Never mind that Congressman Walberg's own rhetoric on SCHIP is less than truthful. Rather than refute his points myself, I'll let the Detroit Free Press do it for me, with their excellent editorial on the facts about SCHIP, also published today.
This bill would give children's health-care funds to childless adults, people who enter the country illegally and families in New York earning up to $83,000 a year who already have private insurance.(Emphasis added.)
The Free Press says:
On childless adults-
In Michigan, 42% of SCHIP enrollees are childless adults, a program the state started with the Bush administration's blessing. Enrollees' annual income cannot exceed $3,500; the program is designed mainly to get them preventive care that will keep them out of emergency rooms. Two Republican congressmen (Mike Rogers and Dave Camp) sent a letter supporting the state's application.In other words, Congressman Walberg, you're lying.
On illegal immigrants-
Not true now, not true in the bill the president vetoed. A provision that may have helped questionable immigrants was put forth in Congress but taken out before final passage. SCHIP goes only to citizens and legal immigrants who have been in the country at least five years.In other words, Congressman Walberg, you're lying.
On those families in New York making $83,000 per year-
This can happen only if the administration grants a waiver. It has already rejected such a request from New York, probably the only state where the cost of living might justify such a request.In other words, Congressman Walberg, you're lying again.
Walberg also says:
To pay for this huge expansion, 22 new million smokers will be required over the next five years. This bill and its budgetary gimmicks are certainly the wrong approach to take on children's health care.The Free Press responds:
The bill is financed by a 61-cent-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes, which covers costs for the first five years. In the second five years, the cigarette tax will not be enough. Congress will have to decide in 2012 whether to restrict enrollment or find new revenue sources. That does not mean they will encourage 22 million new smokers.In other words, once again, Congressman Walberg is lying.
Congressman Walberg ends his editorial repeating the same false talking points:
The Free Press says:
There are still probably a few hours left before the vote. Call Congressman Walberg and ask him to do the right thing and change his position.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Schauer Column on SCHIP
(Thanks to an anonymous comment!)
In a guest column for the Citizen Patriot, Senate Minority Leader and congressional candidate Mark Schauer makes the case for SCHIP.
A few key pieces of the column:
Sometimes if people say something often enough, it seems true. That's what many have been doing in misrepresenting a bipartisan bill to guarantee health-insurance coverage to 80,000 Michigan children. We must set the record straight as Congress has another chance this week to do the right thing and approve this common-sense legislation.But you should really just have read the whole thing.
The veto override vote is tomorrow. It might seem like a lost cause, but contact Congressman Walberg and tell him that you want him to do the right thing, support life, and vote to override the veto.
More on SCHIP
Yesterday when I got home from work there was a message on my answering machine from the Chamber of Commerce asking me to call Tim Walberg to ask him to vote no to override the veto of the SCHIP legislation. Not surprised that the Chamber would be against this bill, but I was surprised that they continued the lies about the $80,000. This has been talked about and talked about.
If you think it is just Democrats who are for the SCHIP legislation think again. Look at what Pat Roberts, Republican Senator from Kansas had to say about this bill.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act - Walberg Votes No
On September 26, 2007, the House of Representatives voted on HR 2693, the Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act. Speaker Pelosi's website explains:
This legislation responds to the appearance of a fatal and irreversible disease called bronchiolitis obliterans that appeared among a group of workers in a popcorn plant in 2000. The disease, which has come to be known as “popcorn lung,” is connected to diacetyl, a chemical used in artificial butter flavoring that the workers were exposed to, according to the National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH scientists said that diacetyl caused “astonishingly grotesque” damage to the lungs, and likened exposure to the chemical to “inhaling acid."
The bill passed, 260 to 154. Forty-seven Republicans joined in supporting the bill, including Michigan's Thad McCotter, Candice Miller, and Fred Upton.
Congressman Tim Walberg voted No.
As far as I know, he never issued a statement on this vote, but I'd be curious to know his reasoning. Does Walberg have scientific evidence suggesting that it's not that big of a deal? Is it an objection to government regulation in general? Does Walberg just not like popcorn or the workers who make it?
Really, I'd like to know. One would have thought this was a pretty straight-forward bill to support. Congressman Walberg, or any staffers reading, would you care to comment? Was there a reason to vote against this bill?
FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007 - Walberg Votes No
On September 20, 2007, the House of Representatives voted on HR 2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007. The bill would reauthorize and fund the Federal Aviation Administration for fiscal years 2008 to 2011. The FAA, of course, is the agency which keeps airplanes from falling out of the sky. Or, rather, it sets in place regulations on flights, airplanes, and airlines, and maintains the air traffic control system. Flying is a nightmare sometimes, but it'd be a lot worse without the FAA. A summary of what the bill does can be found here.
While not a high-profile bill, it was obviously vital to the economy and safety. Without it, the FAA would cease to operate and chaos would ensue. The bill easily passed, 267 to 151.
Congressman Tim Walberg voted No.
Now, does that mean that Walberg wants airplanes to crash? Of course not. Even his rigid ideology, I assume, allows for regulation of something like this (if it doesn't, I'm truly frightened). Instead, the bit which probably made it impossible for Walberg and 150 other Republicans to vote to reauthorize the FAA was this:
Two amendments to the bill were introduced and passed. The first amendment that passed was an amendment to reopen contract talks between the FAA and the Naitonal Air Traffic Controllers Association. The amendment would put the 1998 controllers' contract back into force. If no agreement is reached within 45 days, the dispute would be sent to binding arbitration. The amendment directs that FAA controllers are to be given back pay but provides no funding for this purpose. Future disputes between FAA and one of its unions would be sent to binding arbitration in the event of an impasse. A second amendment was also passed to change the definition of "express carrier" under the Railway Labor Act to allow the non-aviation portions of express carriers to be organized under the National Labor Relations Act (instead of the RLA).Each amendment strengthens the position of the workers in labor negotiations. Although Congressman Walberg issued no statement on the bill, I'm guessing his anti-labor stance is what prevented him from supporting the bill.
Tim Walberg: Fighting against the little guy on behalf of big corporations.
Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development - Walberg Votes No
I'm going to try to catch up today on some votes that I've missed over the last month or so. -- Fitzy
On October 4, 2007, the House of Representatives took up HR 3246, the Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act of 2007. The Majority Whip's website describes the bill:
The bill passed the House with bipartisan support, on a vote of 264 to 154. Thirty-nine Republicans joined the Democrats in support of the bill.
Needless to say, Congressman Walberg apparently didn't feel it was appropriate to invest in developing the poorest parts of our country. He voted No, as did all other Republicans in the Michigan delegation.
Praying for Walberg on SCHIP
Walberg won't listen to the facts and he won't listen to labor. He won't listen to the American people or his own constituents. He certainly won't listen to the Democrats or to Mark Schauer. So far, he's only listened to the Club for Growth.
But before he was Congressman Walberg and before he was state Representative Walberg, he was Reverend Walberg. The national group Catholics United has been appealing to his pro-life morals to try to encourage him to vote to override President Bush's veto.
Now, local religious leaders are doing the same.
Several members of the Joint-religious Organizing Network for Action and Hope (JONAH) plan to meet with U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, today at 11 a.m. to persuade him to vote to override President George W. Bush’s veto of a federal and state funded children’s health insurance program.This isn't an issue about money. It doesn't add to the debt, and no one would ever call this pork spending. And this isn't about "socialized medicine," because SCHIP is nothing like what Canada or Western Europe use. And this isn't about illegal immigrants or $83,000 or any of that stuff, none of which is an actual part of the bill.
This is a simple question of morals. When you see people in need-- especially children-- do you help them?
The meeting is over by now, but I hope it went well. I hope they convinced Congressman Walberg to listen to his conscience and changes his mind.
If Congressman Walberg votes to support the president's veto, it'll certainly make him an easier candidate to defeat. But you know what? I don't care about that. Once, just once, I want to see my congressman do something that will help someone besides the Club for Growth.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Mark Schauer's Third Quarter Fundraising
Finally, the FEC report for the numbers we've been talking about for a while...
Short Version: Senator Schauer raised $220,117.88. That's about one and a half times more than Congressman Walberg raised, and Schauer did it in much less time-- just five weeks, instead of a full quarter.
Another powerful item: Combined, David Nacht and Jim Berryman raised about $210,000 in the second quarter. Schauer, all on his own, has raised more.
It's clear that Schauer will be a well-financed challenger if he keeps this up for the next year.
Here's the FEC's detailed summary page:
Schauer's cash-on-hand is about 60 percent of what Walberg has on hand, but that gap should close in future quarters. After all, Walberg's been doing this longer than Schauer has.
You can see the contributors list (PACs, etc. and individuals who contributed over $200) here and the expenditures list here.
Aside from other political committees, I only saw four names that contributed from non-Michigan addresses on my first read. That's certainly better than Tim Walberg's absurdly high amount of out-of-state money.
Some notable contributions include money from state Representative Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea), $1,000 from Nacht for Congress, two contributions from Nancy Pelosi for Congress (the Speaker's campaign committee), Hoyer for Congress (House Majority Leader), Dingell for Congress, Levin for Congress, and the Granholm Leadership Fund. Lots of institutional support.
Did I miss anything significant?
Tim Walberg's Third Quarter Fundraising
Congressman Walberg's fundraising data from the third quarter of 2007 is now available online.
Short version: Walberg only raised a total of $139,535.73. That's up from the $119,000 he raised in the second quarter, but still nothing compared to what David Nacht raised that quarter or what state Senator Mark Schauer raised, about $220,000.
Walberg received about $102,000 from individual contributors and about $37,000 from PACs and other political groups.
Here's the detailed summary page:
His $328,000 cash-on-hand is still better than Schauer, but he's been at this a lot longer, too. If I were him, I would be a little worried about not being able to compete in the "money race."
The list of contributors (PACs, etc. and individuals who contribute more than $200) may be seen here, and the list of campaign expenditures can be seen here. Sometime later, I'll go through and get a count on in-state contributions and I'll look for significant names. I already noticed DeVos and Abraham in the contributors list, and Mark Valente got $300.00 from the campaign.
Anyone see anything interesting?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Weekend Video - Schwarz 2004
I know I keep making this promise, but I'll have some actual substantive posts sometime soon. Life just seems to get really busy sometimes.
But if you're looking for something to do for 20 minutes this Sunday afternoon, check out this video following the Schwarz campaign in the 2004 Republican primary.
Joe Schwarz was a conservative in the state legislature and in Congress, and I often disagreed with him. However, as I've said before and as I'll say again and again, he was a principled, honest man who had a mind of his own. If he stood for something, it was because he believed it.
But more than that, he's a practical man. His main goal in public office was to get something done.
If Joe Schwarz runs for Congress again, regardless of party, I probably won't support him. But in his two years in the House of Representatives, I never felt embarrassed to know he was my representative. I wish I could say the same about Tim Walberg.
Now, the video won't tell you anything you don't already know. But it's a fun watch for the political junkie, as almost a mini-version of "The War Room."
Friday, October 12, 2007
Catholics United Criticizes Walberg on SCHIP
Something new from a different source...
Catholics United doesn't have anything on their website about this, but I'm guessing that they'll update it sometime soon.
I don't know anything about Catholics United, but I think this is a very powerful line of reasoning against Congressman Walberg's votes against reauthorizing and expanding SCHIP. How can you be for life if you aren't willing to support an entire lifespan?
Here's the audio of the radio ad.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Campaign Internet Operations
I've got a LOT of stuff I need to post about Tim Walberg and the 7th District, especially some voting record updates... But first, I want to write something that'll be a little more fun.
Jerome Armstrong, for the New Politics Institute, has written a strategy memo for political campaigns going into 2008 on how to interact with progressive blogs. As a progressive blogger, obviously this is a big thing for me, and I'd really recommend any candidate go and read the whole thing (.pdf here).
This really is a must-read for anyone interested in running an effective, modern campaign. I'm not just trying to make myself sound important. Blogs are a key part of engaging activists and informing voters.
At the end of the document, there's a set of six recommendations for candidates, all of which are great things to implement. I'd like to take this opportunity to take a look at the internet side of the Renier, Schauer, and Walberg campaigns. I'm not saying anyone is better or worse than anyone else. Rather, I'd like to take a moment to briefly point out what each candidate has done to use the internet and their relationship with bloggers.
Renier: I started this blog in August of 2006, just as the general election campaign for the 7th District was starting. I followed the Renier campaign, as did diarists on Michigan Liberal. She even did an exclusive interview with Nirmal for his blog Who Got The Gravy (prior to Nirmal joining Walberg Watch). However, there was no coherent attempt to reach out to bloggers. She didn't seek me out (though, by the end of the campaign, we had been in contact), and she didn't seek out other bloggers, to my knowledge.
Going into 2008, Renier has yet to form much of a campaign, rejecting the idea of raising large amounts of cash and relying on a low-budget, grassroots model, like her previous campaign. Still, she and I have exchanged some e-mails, and I hope that she'll keep Walberg Watch and other Michigan blogs in the loop as she goes forward with her campaign.
Schauer: Mark Schauer has been great on this, even before he decided to run for Congress, with an account at Michigan Liberal and regular outreach efforts by the Senate caucus to Michigan bloggers.
When he first expressed an interest in running, I sent off an e-mail to his office, just to see what might happen. The next day, I got a phone call from his chief of staff, Ken Brock. When Senator Schauer announced, Ken Brock called me again to make sure I had heard the news, and we set up a way for Schauer to post something on Walberg Watch explaining his decision. Since then, I've had a chance to speak with the senator and the campaign regularly sends me press releases.
That's basically the best local blog outreach you could imagine. They've taken me seriously, shared information with me, and not cut me off when I've posted (or others have posted) negative items about the campaign or those involved. Schauer's campaign has been great on this.
(It's worth noting that the Nacht and Berryman campaigns were pretty good, too, but as they've withdrawn, I don't want to spend too much time on them.)
Walberg: Obviously, Congressman Walberg hasn't been all that interested in working with Walberg Watch (though, I have exchanged a few e-mails with his office). Currently, there's no corresponding pro-Walberg or anti-Schauer 7th District blog, nor have I seen the congressman reach out to Right Michigan or other conservative Michigan bloggers.
However, Walberg has had a pretty strong presence elsewhere in the conservative blogosphere. He's had guest posts on TownHall.com and Human Events, both conservative websites, and has posted his views on the Hill Blog for members of Congress. So, there's been an outreach effort of some sort.
Renier: Sharon Renier's website was updated from time to time in 2006, and more frequently as it got closer to the election (mostly for major items, like her television ad, the fake robocalls, etc.). However, for most of the fall, her website was mostly static, and has not changed at all since election day of 2006.
Schauer: Mark Schauer's website is still in the "under construction" phase, and can't be judged quite yet. However, from what I remember of his 2006 Michigan Senate re-election page, it was fairly static, updated even less than the Renier website, as is his official Senate website. As Minority Leader, one can also look at the Democratic caucus website, which is regularly updated with lots of great content. Now, it's tough to tell how much of that is the work of Schauer's staff, but if he can replicate it in his campaign website, it would be a smart move.
Walberg: Tim Walberg's website didn't change much at all during the 2006 campaign. Like Renier, it hadn't changed since the 2006 election for several months, only recently changing to its current version.
However, Walberg also has his official House website. It's regularly updated with statements and press releases, which is good, and Walberg even has a blog, which is occasionally updated and has some actual content.
None of the three campaigns I'm looking at have ever purchased ads on blogs, as far as I know. However, if any campaign is interested in advertising on Michigan blogs, information for Michigan Liberal is available here, and information for Blogging for Michigan is here.
There's really no mechanism for advertising on Walberg Watch, as I really don't want to deal with the hassle it would entail, and I'm certainly not looking to profit off of this blog. Still, if someone really wants to pay me to stick up a banner or something, contact me and we'll talk about it. But I don't think it'd be worth it.
Renier: In the 2006 election, Sharon Renier posted a document on her website detailing Tim Walberg's voting record in the state House, which was about the sum of their opposition research. While the campaign didn't contact Walberg Watch about it, I did find it on my own, and posted most of it over the course of a month or so.
Schauer: I don't know what kind of opposition research the Schauer campaign has done yet, but I know I haven't seen any of it on this or other blogs. However, as noted above, they've been great about sending press releases and other information they want to get out there, which is a good sign for the future.
Walberg: I don't know what kind of opposition research the Walberg campaign did in 2006. All they really did was distort what Joe Schwarz and Sharon Renier stand for, and label everything they didn't like "liberal." So.
Others: Not other candidates, but other interested observers. There have been plenty of times where people have done their own research or noticed something peculiar and sent it along to me. So, there are certain people and groups that know how to use blogs to get their opposition research out.
Renier: In hindsight, there are a lot of great ways Sharon Renier could have used video in the 2006 campaign. Maybe something like what Larry LaRocco is doing in the Idaho Senate race, where he's "working" to get in the Senate by visiting different sites and spending time with regular people. Similarly, Renier's regular-person appeal could have been shown with video of her on the farm, contrasting her with the professional politician Walberg.
Unfortunately, there was only one video produced by Sharon Renier that ever made it on the internet-- her television ad-- and I don't think it was put on YouTube by her campaign, but by someone else (I'm not 100 percent sure about that).
Schauer: When one does a search for video on Mark Schauer, there are seven results. One negative, produced by RightMichigan.com, five put up for the Senate Democratic Caucus, and one put up by Schauer for Congress (the pasty video). In addition to those, there are a lot of videos on the Senate Democratic Caucus' website, many of which feature Senator Schauer.
Although most of it wasn't produced for this campaign, Schauer will, presumably, continue producing videos as we move toward 2008. Overall, he's been very good about using video.
Walberg: When one searches for Walberg, there are twelve videos. However, of these, one is an independent video titled "Walberg Coddles Child Abusers," one is an AFSCME ad against him, seven are part of the WOCR conservative radio programs I mentioned last week, and one is a piece of the Rush Limbaugh show. There are also two videos put up by House Minority Leader John Boehner's office of Walberg's floor speeches.
Oddly, the videos of the Walberg press office don't come up when you search for his name. I sort of found them accidentally. But, there are two videos which his office has added which portray Walberg favorably.
Overall, it's an okay use of video, though I don't remember seeing anything during the 2006 campaign. If I were to give them a little advice, though, it would be that they need to tag their own videos better. It doesn't bode well for them when their own videos don't come up in a search for "Tim Walberg."
Yeah, it should be numbered six, not another five. Obviously, Jerome didn't proof-read.
A quick search of Facebook and MySpace shows that none of the candidates have really utilized these tools. None of them have MySpace pages, and only one-- Tim Walberg-- has a Facebook profile, which has very little information on it (though he does have 166 supporters). There is a Schauer for Congress Facebook group, but as far as I can tell, it's not officially connected to the campaign.
What's the value of these resources? Well, with Adrian College, Siena Heights University, Albion College, Spring Arbor University, Olivet College, and Jackson Community College (plus branches of other institutions) all in the district, there's certainly the potential for a motivated youth vote. On top of that, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, and University of Michigan are all just outside the district boundaries. So, there's a lot to draw upon. Youth outreach should be a priority, and these websites are a great way to start.
Those are the six recommendations. Do you have any creative ways for campaigns to use the internet?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Latest SCHIP Ad Against Walberg
The television ad I mentioned the other day directly targeting Congressman Tim Walberg on his SCHIP vote was unveiled today. (This is in addition to the national "Abby" ad I posted before.) Here's the ad:
Consider this an open thread.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Schauer's 3Q Fundraising
Just a quick post right now, from a Schauer campaign press release. I'll have more to say once I see the FEC reports. But for just five weeks, this is pretty impressive!
SCHAUER ANNOUNCES STRONG START TO CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING EFFORTMore to come later...
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Walberg Disappoints... Conservatives?
From a different perspective tonight...
Here's a YouTube clip put out by the producers of a very far right-wing radio program on WOCR (Olivet College radio). There are a few factual errors in it that I caught, but it's interesting. (For more clips from the same radio program, see their YouTube channel.)
So, in other words, Tim Walberg isn't conservative enough for at least some conservatives.
Any chance there might be a primary challenge from the right? I really doubt it-- I think Tim Walberg is too far to the right for this moderate district, so there's no way someone to the right of him would have enough support to compete. But I've got to say, it might be fun to watch.
Poor Tim Walberg... he can't seem to make anyone happy.
More on Walberg and Ramadan
The other day, I mentioned a resolution that passed the House which recognized the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and commended Muslims who practice their religion peacefully. Congressman Tim Walberg and 41 others couldn't bring themselves to vote yes on that symbolic piece of legislation, and instead voted "Present" in protest.
So why wouldn't Congressman Walberg vote for it? Was it for separation of church and state concerns, like some of you expressed in the comments? Of course not.
From a conservative source, we get this:
Among those who voted present on the resolution was Republican Tim Walberg of Michigan. "To offer respect for a major religion is one thing, but to offer respect for a major religion that has been behind the Islamic jihad, the radical jihad, that has sworn war upon the United States, its free allies and freedom in Iraq, is another thing," he stated.(Emphasis added.)
Translation: All Muslims are terrorists.
That's exactly what he's saying. He can't support anything offering respect to Islam because he thinks all Muslims are terrorists-- or, at the very least, that they're encouraged by their religion to be terrorists.
Congressman Walberg, some time later this year, someone-- maybe even one of your fellow Republicans-- might want to pass a symbolic resolution recognizing Christianity as a "great religion" of the world, maybe some time around Christmas. Would you support that resolution?
Because aren't all Christians terrorists?
Aren't we all just like the KKK? They're certainly inspired by their faith, among other things, to carry out their violent and hateful acts.
Aren't we all like Eric Rudolph? It was his Christian faith that led him to bomb an abortion clinic, a gay and lesbian nightclub, and, of course, the Centennial Olympic Park.
For that matter, don't all Christians bomb abortion clinics? It seems like that's the thing they do.
Obviously, Christianity is a hateful, violent religion. To offer respect for a major religion is one thing, but to offer respect for a major religion that has been behind so much violence is another thing.
Congressman Walberg, I really, really try hard not to personally insult or attack you. But with this vote and your statement, I can only reach one conclusion: You're a bigot and an idiot. There are 1 billion Muslims in the world. Are you really going to refuse to show them respect because a tiny minority use violence?
Michigan's 7th District deserves better than this.
Friday, October 05, 2007
New TV Ads Target Walberg
Americans United for Change is launching an ad campaign urging Republicans in Congress to override President Bush's veto of SCHIP. Here's the national ad they're running:
They're also specifically targeting individual Republicans in Congress, including Tim Walberg. From their press release:
With support from AFSCME, SEIU and MoveOn.org -- Americans United for Change will launch a significant-six figure national TV ad starting on Monday called “Abby” that will run through the expected October 18th vote. You may view “Abby” here: http://www.americansunitedforchange.org/blog/entries/abby/Labor has usually sat out most elections in the 7th District, and I'm excited to see them take on an active role. I look forward to seeing what they do.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Walberg Distorting the Truth on SCHIP
There's been more going on than just the SCHIP vote and veto, but as long as Tim Walberg wants to talk about it, I will too.
Yesterday, Congressman Walberg released a statement:
“I support renewing SCHIP to aid children in low-income families. I have co-sponsored legislation that would extend the current children’s health insurance program by 18 months.This is basically the same line he's been repeating for a while. Don't be confused when he says
"I support renewing SCHIP to aid children in low-income families. I have co-sponsored legislation that would extend the current children’s health insurance program by 18 months."He's not talking about the bill which the House passed and which he voted against. He's talking about the alternative bill that was not voted on, and would not expand the SCHIP program. So, that's a mildly-deceptive way of wording things, but that's not what's bothering me right now.
“The legislation I have supported would ensure that the children’s health program is available for children who need it, and not for adults, people who enter the country illegally or families who already have private insurance. The Democratic legislation takes a program originally meant for children of low-income families and expands it to cover some families earning up to $83,000 and illegal immigrants while moving millions of children from private health insurance to government programs.(Emphasis added.)
That's where the lies and distortion come in.
First, on that $83,000 figure, from FactCheck.org:
In fact, nothing in either the House or Senate bill would force coverage for families earning $83,000 a year. That's already possible under current law, but no state sets its cut-off that high for a family of four and the bill contains no requirement for any such increase. The Bush administration, in fact, just denied a request by New York to set its income cut-off at $82,600 for a family of four, a move New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and members of Congress from the state have vigorously protested. And Bush would retain the authority to deny similar applications under the proposed legislation. An Aug. 17 letter to state health officials from the Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services outlined new guidelines for states that would make it quite difficult for states to raise eligibility above 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($51,625 for a family of four). So Bush is simply wrong to say that the legislation "would" result in families making $83,000 a year to be eligible. It might happen in a future administration, but that would be possible without the new legislation.(Emphasis added.)
Now, as the bill evolved in Congress, New York became a special case, as FactCheck.org later explains:
Here’s what would happen to New York’s request to increase its eligibility cap to 400 percent of the poverty level: The new legislation would rescind the Aug. 17 letter from HHS that required states to meet certain requirements before they could raise eligibility above 250 percent of the poverty level. Instead, HHS would issue new requirements for states seeking to increase their caps above 300 percent. After Oct. 1, 2010, states failing to meet those requirements wouldn’t get federal funds for children above that 300 percent mark (see Sec. 116 of the bill).It's complicated and a little tough to follow, but here's the short version. There's a chance that one state out of 50, a state with a pretty high cost of living in some places, might raise it's cap to nearly $83,000, but it would only last for two years.
So, yeah, Congressman Walberg, "some families" earning up to $83,000 might be eligible. But we both know that you were trying to imply that this would be a nationwide thing. Not a lie, exactly, but certainly deceptive.
Now, how about those terrible illegal immigrants? The Democrats, apparently, want to give them health care. Again, as Walberg says:
The Democratic legislation takes a program originally meant for children of low-income families and expands it to cover some families earning up to $83,000 and illegal immigrants while moving millions of children from private health insurance to government programs.There's one problem: the Democratic bill does no such thing.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution succinctly states as it dispels myths about SCHIP:
Claim: Illegal immigrants will be able to sign up for benefits. It is against federal law for illegal immigrants to sign up for SCHIP programs. That wouldn't change.Where did the idea that illegal immigrants could sign up for SCHIP come from?
How would these illegal immigrants get into the program? Simple. A provision in the bill allows potential enrollees to show only a Social Security card - not documents proving citizenship - when they apply at the state level to get in the programs.It simplifies the process, so that you don't need to fight through as much paperwork to get benefits. I always thought efficiency in bureaucracy was something Republicans liked.
But that doesn't matter, because those nasty Democrats went ahead and gave illegal immigrants social security benefits, right? So, illegal immigrants can get SCHIP, too.
Actually, no. It's a different issue entirely, but as FactCheck.org explains:
Republicans are tagging Democratic opponents across the country for wanting to "give Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants." But nobody's proposing paying benefits to illegals, not until and unless they become US citizens or are granted legal status.Illegal immigrants are not eligible for Social Security, and if they somehow present a Social Security card to enroll in SCHIP, they are breaking the law now and they would be breaking the law under the Democratic bill. It's that simple.
So when Tim Walberg says that the bill expands SCHIP to cover illegal immigrants, he's lying.
But how about that last piece, where Walberg says:
The Democratic legislation takes a program originally meant for children of low-income families and expands it to cover some families earning up to $83,000 and illegal immigrants while moving millions of children from private health insurance to government programs.(Emphasis added.)
Millions of children from private health insurance to government programs? It sounds like socialized medicine! It sounds like HillaryCare!
It also sounds like another lie.
In other words, this isn't socialized medicine. The federal government isn't even close to making decisions for doctors.
This is government-subsidized medicine. The federal government gives money to the states, and each state comes up with a program that ensures health coverage for eligible children.
What it does do is make health insurance a lot more affordable to people who can use the extra money.
I'm hoping that I covered everything without making too many mistakes. But I'm fairly confident that my post is a lot more accurate than anything Tim Walberg has said about the issue.
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