You can’t laugh away your votes against the promises our nation has made to Michiganders anymore, Rep. Walberg
I’m worried about Rep. Tim Walberg’s wife.
At a recent “Coffee Hour” in Dexter conveniently held during conventional business hours when most people were at work, the following exchange happened as the representative of Michigan’s 7th Congressional District had an aide ask a question collected from the crowd:
You have shown with your votes – and I should say we have many variations on this one – you have shown with your votes and your comments that you want to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security. Which one do you want to cut the most.
And when did I stop beating my wife? Is that the next question?
This hack joke is meant to mock the premise of a question as if it’s a ridiculous, offensive accusation.
In this case, it’s a statement of Walberg’s views and voting record. As a Member of Congress, he has long backed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the social insurance promises we make to citizens, the unfortunate and the disabled that Walberg calls “entitlements.”
He’s long been on the side of cutting these promises, though like most Republicans who don’t want to own this extraordinarily unpopular stance he adds some clever hedges. In 2012, he claimed that he’s in favor of cuts to Social Security to “save” the program and added that he opposes cutting “the expectation of what our present recipients are receiving and those soon to be on it” — even as he advocated for raising the full retirement age, which is already 67 for Social Security, so that there will be a lot fewer Americans that are “soon to be on it.”
Yes, taking years of Social Security benefits from tens of millions Americans who’ve been promised it is a cut, especially because many people would die in the extra time they have spend working. And in 2011, Walberg signed on Ryan’s plan to come up with a way to “reform” Social Security. And we all know now that “reform” is conservative for “cut.”
Walberg continually voted for cuts to Medicare to Medicaid proposed in Paul Ryan’s budget over the last seven years. During the pre-Trump era, conservative groups were free to spin his votes for half a trillion of Medicare, including bringing back the donut hole, and dicing 1/4 from Medicaid as non-cuts because they were never likely to become law.
This dodges were safe and easy when Republican dreams of hollowing out the safety net were limited by President Obama’s veto pen.
That’s changed now.
The House Trumpcare contained nearly carbon-copied versions of the giant cuts to Medicaid that Walberg backed in the past jammed into a bill that pretended to be just about repealing Obamacare.
Walberg voted for it — THREE TIMES.
That sent the legislation on to the Senate — where the Medicaid cuts became bigger. Activism by groups like National ADAPT and the AARP revealed some of the horror behind these cuts, which could both imprison people with disabilities who don’t want to be homes while also kicking poor seniors on nursing care out into the streets. These cuts proved toxic and helped stop what seemed to be a plot by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to get the Senate to back the House bill. But with one more vote in Senate, Tim Walberg’s dream of cutting Medicaid would have come true.
In 2018, Republicans are likely to pick up at least one seat and we know now that conservatives like Walberg have no qualms about gutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security with less than a majority in the Senate and a president who is the biggest electoral vote loser in 140 years.
Walberg’s support of the ACA repeal means 56,431 people in his district still have to worry about losing their health insurance if the GOP can wrangle up enough votes for a straight repeal, which the Freedom Caucus now backs.
This is no longer theoretical — or a joke.
We already know for a fact that Paul Ryan and Tim Walberg wants to cut Medicaid by $834 billion over the next ten years. Ryan’s 2018 budget contains $200 billion in cuts to mandatory programs including Social Security and Medicare. The House Budget Committee has voted to cut Medicaid spending by $487 billion from 2018-2017. Trump’s budget includes significant cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance.
What of any of this does Walberg oppose?
And since he has clearly backed cutting spending on all three programs, his constituents need to know which he’d like to cut most so they can prepare, as these cuts are closer than ever to becoming a reality.
The evidence is clear that Tim Walberg wants to gut our core social safety net. If anything like this amount of evidence exists for him beating his wife, she should let the authorities know immediately.
[Photo of a Walberg “coffee hour” from earlier this year by the great Anne Savage.]