Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Discrepancies in Walberg's Constituent Stories

Link to formatted, printable pdf of this report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lFkS2g0nt-GHrQZwu1g5H8SHH2PVDLOu/view?usp=sharing

Header photo by Jorge [siliconbook], Flickr.com


Which constituents does Walberg ignore, and which does he respond to? 

I have previously reported how Walberg lies about the questions that we ask him at coffee hours: http://www.takecaretim.com/2018/07/walberg-lying-that-constituents-dont.html

This report explores three constituent stories from the public record, that Walberg took an active interest in. Each story starts in 2013, concerning the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

1)   “Bill”- from Monroe, MI (Red Highlights)
2)   “Lady in tears”- from Jackson, MI (Green Highlights)
3)   “J.B.”- from Dexter, MI (Blue Highlights)

     This report does not identify those constituents or examine their personal lives in any way. I have removed some of the identifying features regarding “J.B.”, who became subjected to a lot of national scrutiny. I am only interested in Walberg’s involvement with their stories.

  •  Why did Walberg take an interest in these constituents?
  • How well did Walberg represent their stories?

1 - “Bill” from Monroe, MI
Thursday, September 26, 2013 (12:13 pm)
House Floor Speech – Washington, D.C.
In video, Walberg does not look down or refer to any notes as he quotes the constituent
Transcript from Official Congressional Record:

There is a large discrepancy, in that Walberg did not have a town hall the previous day. At the time, it had been a little over three weeks since his previous town hall. If Walberg did indeed speak with anyone named Bill, it was not in a Town Hall. Furthermore, the U.S. House of Representatives was in session that previous day.

1 - “Bill” from Monroe, MI
Markup of the period when Walberg said he spoke to “Bill” in a Town Hall [Web cap: Jan. 2014]

ANALYSIS: Walberg’s “Bill” Story:
Walberg cited “Bill” again in a House floor speech from October 2, 2013 [next page].

  • On September 26, he said that he spoke to “Bill” at a town hall, “yesterday morning”, which would be September 25, 2013. 
  • On October 2, he said that he spoke to him at a town hall, “a week and a half ago”, which would be the weekend of September (21-22), 2013.
As the record shows, Walberg held no town halls within weeks of those dates.

“Bill” from Monroe, MI and “Lady in Tears” from Jackson, MI
Wednesday, October 2, 2013 (7:43 pm)
House Floor Speech – Washington, D.C.
Transcript from Official Congressional Record:

With the speech above, we switch our focus now to Walberg’s story of the “Lady in Tears”, who he first spoke publicly about in June, 2013.

2 - “Lady in Tears” from Jackson, MI
Thursday, June 6, 2013 (9:30 am)
Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee – 
Washington, D.C.
Transcript from Official Committee Record (GPO)

How did Walberg expect the IRS to help with any of this? The IRS did not make the health care law, nor are they the ones who cut back “Lady in tears’” work hours.

2 - “Lady in Tears” from Jackson, MI
Monday, August 19, 2013 (8:30 am)
Coffee Hour - Blissfield, MI
Walberg: “Let me give you an example of a lady in Jackson, MI, just about eight weeks ago now, called my Jackson Office, and in tears said, ‘Up until this morning, I was employed by a home health care provider, as a home health care aide. I worked for that home health care provider, out of Albion, Michigan at 38-hours a week – part-time, 38-hours. The rest, to make up my other 40-hours, or plus, that I need in time to continue paying my mortgage.’ She’s a single-parent - fortunately all her kids are all grown^, she’s 59-years old [Walberg swung his hand toward his forehead here, as if realizing a detail to his story didn’t quite make sense, and he attempted to save it.], she said, she had a job as a waitress at the brew pub in Battle Creek, ‘So, that’s how I’ve been making it. So now I was told this morning that as of this week, I will no longer have 38-hours, they moved back to 28-hours, because of ObamaCare.’ It’s now the new plan under ObamaCare is 30 hours and more is full-time. Under 30 hours, is part time. Here in the United States, we’ve considered anything under 40 hours is part time, up until ObamaCare. So now we have a lady, 59-years of age, she’s not gonna go out and get a new job, at least a full-time job easily at 59. She’s put back at a part-time status, from 38, to 28. Arcadia Brewing is gonna have to make up the difference, if she can get them to make up the difference. Otherwise, as she said, ‘How am I going to pay for my mortgage? I’m gonna lose my home?’ So, we’re seeing that.”

Discrepancies in when Walberg said he heard from “Lady in Tears”:
  • On June 6: claimed, “this week” which would be: a few days before June 6.
  • On August 19: claimed, “about eight weeks ago”, which would be: about June 24.
  • Later on August 19: claimed, “a few weeks back” which would be: late July/ early Aug.
  • On August 23: claimed, “six weeks ago”, which would be: the week of July 12.
  • On August 27: Walberg said it was “most recently”, which would place be: unclear.

[I draw no conclusions from those date discrepancies aside from Walberg’s lack of diligence]

See August 9, 2017, for Walberg’s contradiction regarding the woman’s children.

2 - “Lady in Tears” from Jackson, MI
Monday, August 19, 2013 (10:00 am)
Senior Fair – Monroe, MI
Walberg: “When I have 59 year old women - a single parent, mother call my district office in Jackson a few weeks back, and say, ‘This morning-‘ In tears, she said, ‘Just this morning, my employer, a home health care provider, of which I’m a home health care nurse, has now moved me from my 38 hours, which was part time, which I wanted, now down to 28 hours, which comes under the 30-hour full-time mandate now. So, not only will I drop down to 28 hours for my major employment, but my other part-time that I do on the weekends as a waitress at a restaurant. With that 28 hours, plus the few hours I work, how am I going to pay for my mortgage? And then how am I going to pay for my health care, which now I am going to have to pay for myself out of a far more limited income?’ That’s a challenge we’re facing.”

2 - “Lady in Tears” from Jackson, MI
Friday, August 23, 2013 (9:30 am)
Coffee Hour – Chelsea, MI
Walberg: “The number of people that are calling our offices, like the 59-year-old lady, who calls and says – this was six weeks agoin tears, ‘This morning, I was told by my Albion home health care provider, employer that I work for, that they’re reducing me from my part-time, 38 hours-‘, which has always been, part-time is under 40-hours [Walberg shows a big grin at this moment]. Now it’s changed in ObamaCare to 30-hours being full time, 30 or more. ‘I’ve been now reduced as of this morning to 28-hours. My other job, that I got to fill the 40-hours-plus that I need to pay my mortgage, pay for my health care at Arcadia Brewing in Battle Creek, can’t make up the difference.’ So, in tears she said, ‘How am I gonna pay for my mortgage? And then, how am I gonna buy my own health insurance, since I will have to have to pay for it myself?’

SIDE NOTE😀Walberg Often Grins, Laughs, or Tells jokes about Violence and Suffering😀
  • June 29, 2010:responded to question about other countries’ immigration laws, saying, 😀“Oh, they’re far more brutal than ours, aren’t they?”😀, with a huge smile. Video (1:40 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqJt6fuK8rQ
  • March 18, 2017: returned from the funeral of “a good friend”who 😀died of a heart attack while shoveling snow😀, joking that some wives may want to encourage their husbands to shovel more snow, implying those women will be happier as widows. Video (1:45 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adCMfVKgYi8
  • February 20, 2018: during serious discussion about 😀gun violence😀, and accepting NRA funding, constituents shouted at Walberg, “It’s not funny! Stop smirking!” Video (4:00 mark) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CypY-tP1Hp4

2 - “Lady in Tears” from Jackson, MI
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Civil Discourse - Chelsea, MI
Walberg: “I hear most recently in my office, a call come in from a 59-year-old single parent, mother, who worked in a home health care industry, in a home health care provider business out of Albion, Michigan. She called us to tell our office, in tears, that she had just been informed by her employer that her hours were being cut back from part-time at 38 hours, now down to 28 hours, because of the Affordable Care Act, and the requirements of 30 hours, or more being full-time. So, now they’re establishing their parameters by moving their part-timers back to under 30 hours. She also worked at a restaurant, as a waitress in Battle Creek, to fill up the rest of the 40 hours, plus. And she says, ‘How am I going to pay my mortgage now? I’m 59 years of age. I’m not going to be able to go out and get a good job easily. I’m doing part time jobs, both of them now. Significant part time jobs, and I’ve gotta also buy health insurance.’”

From this point, we jump ahead four years, to hear if Walberg has included any new developments in his story of the “Lady in Tears”.

2 - “Lady in Tears” from Jackson, MI
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 (10:00 am)
Coffee Hour – Hudson, MI
Walberg: “Cause, now you have the lady in Jackson, who worked 36 hours a week, at a companion care business, and then on the weekends worked at a restaurant. And that 36 hours, though it was part time, still gave her some benefits from the companion care job, and additional dollars for herself and her child^, to make ends meet, and she was happy. Until the Affordable Care Act went through and said that the 30-hour work week was the full-time work week, and so now she had been put down to 25 hours of work at her companion care business, and the rest of the dollars that she received from her restaurant*, a waitress shift didn’t make it, and she lost her benefits.”

ANALYSIS: Walberg’s “Lady in Tears” Story
In telling her story for four years, Walberg has depicted himself as just a passive onlooker, and not a powerful U.S. lawmaker. Why has the story not developed in that time, other than a ^contradiction with the age and number of the woman’s children? His story has kept the woman trapped in the same perilous spot for years, with no help from her lawmaker.

Has Walberg ever reached out to her in the past four years to help? Or, does Tim Walberg only care about her story as a political tool to attack our health care system?

*Arcadia Brewingnine days later, announced the closure of their Battle Creek location: https://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/story/news/2017/08/18/arcadia-brewing-closing-downtown-location/581341001/

The final constituent story that we will look at started in December 2013, when Walberg wrote an opinion article about, “J.B.”, in her local Dexter, Michigan newspaper.

3 - “J.B.” from Dexter, MI
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Dexter Leader – Dexter, MI
The Dexter Leader has since closed, but their articles are archived at the link below.

3 - “J.B.” from Dexter, MI
Walberg made a few social media posts on his constituent guests for the 2014 State of the Union

PAC Ad Campaign, & National Criticism of “J.B.’s” Story:
Shortly after Walberg invited ”J.B.” to the State of the Union address, she appeared in a series of televised ads opposing Senate candidate, Gary Peters. She spoke on camera, with her full name, about her misgivings toward the Affordable Care Act, and Gary Peters’ support for the law. Those ads were produced by “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP), a PAC founded by oil & chemical tycoons, The Koch Brothers. AFP also ran a social media campaign for several months featuring “J.B.”. During that time, she was also invited onto several TV news talk shows.

On February 20, The Washington Post published an article fact-checking the AFP ad. The article prompted other outlets to follow up [next page]. The next month, AFP ran new ads, which the Washington Post published a second fact-checking report on March 11. It featured a more in-depth comparison between the health plans that “J.B.” had before and after the ACA. On April 7, a fellow of the National Institute of Health conducted an extensive analysis of “J.B.’s” case, and The Washington Post updated their article with that information, and it concluded by giving AFP’s ad a more critical “Pinocchio Rating” than their first report had given.

Notice in the last two examples [March 21, 2014 & December 9, 2014], how the way that Walberg spoke about “J.B.” changed after those fact-checking reports came out.

3 - “J.B.” from Dexter, MI
Friday, February 21, 2014
Detroit Free Press – Detroit, MI
Due to the original article’s narrow vertical layout, I recut it to three columns for this exhibit
Archived article [behind paywall]www.newspapers.com

The Washington Post debunked all of the biggest claims from Walberg’s Op-Ed: 1) “J.B.” did find a new health care plan – 2) she did get to keep her doctor – 3) the total cost of her new premium and her drugs is less than the cost of her old premium alone.

3 - “J.B.” from Dexter, MI
Friday, March 21, 2014
Q1 Broadcasting – Coldwater, MI
Walberg [speaking to host, Tim Hart Haberl]: “Or that leukemia patient in my district, 29-years of age, who has been dealing with her Leukemia situation for five years, with a medication that’s an oral chemo, that has been successfully keeping her cancer at bay, and now she has been told that she can no longer have coverage payment for that medication.”

ANALYSIS: Walberg’s “J.B.” Story
“J.B.” was nowhere near 29 years old at that time, and Walberg certainly knew that.

Notice how Walberg said this just ten days after The Washington Post published their second fact-checking report about the AFP ads featuring “J.B.”. So Walberg, rather than accepting facts and letting go of his favorite anecdote to attack the ACA, or directly challenging the report; decided to continue telling a false version of “J.B.’s” story, but left her name out of it. That anonymity shielded Walberg from criticism for telling falsehoods. However, “J.B.” herself still faced that criticism, and was not afforded that anonymity. 

Walberg brought her into the spotlight with those falsehoods, and continued to lie about her story for political gain. Yet, cowardly, Walberg never stepped up, or spoke on the record to take any responsibility, or to defend her from criticism.

About nine months later, marking about one year after he first wrote his Dexter op-ed, Walberg mentioned “J.B.” again by name during a rant in a committee hearing. It was the last time that I can find that Walberg publicly spoke about her.

3 - “J.B.” from Dexter, MI
Tuesday, December 9, 2014 (11:30 am)
Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee – 
Washington, D.C.
Transcript from Official Committee Record (GPO)

Notice how Walberg avoided making any of the specific claims that he had made before about “J.B.”: finding a new plankeeping her doctor, or coverage for her medications. Then he closed out her chapter in the most tactless manner, by saying, “she’s not stupid”.


Now, let’s reflect on the questions from the introduction:
  • Why did Walberg take an interest in these constituents?

   The first time that I ever visited Walberg’s district office, was on February 3, 2017, with a small group of people to express our concerns about the GOP’s plan to repeal the ACA. That afternoon, men and women told their personal stories in tears to Walberg’s District Director, Stephen Rajzer, how the ACA had saved their lives, as well as lives in their families.
   Why did their tearful stories never enter into Walberg’s repertoire of anecdotes? 

Evidently, Walberg is only interested in constituents whose stories fit with his existing set of positions, and those of his political party.
  • How well did Walberg represent their stories?

   Early in this research, I suspected that Walberg might have made up those three constituent stories from scratch. Happily, my suspicions were not borne out by the evidence. However:

            While not fictional people, their stories became fictionalized at the hands of Tim Walberg.

I believe that all three of those constituents reached out to their Congress member, seeking help with their real concerns and grievances about the strange new health care law. For their part, it was a proper course of action. 

For Walberg’s part, rather than help those constituents work through and resolve their specific issues, or take their genuine concerns and stories to Congress in a truthful, collaborative, and solutions-driven manner:

Instead, Walberg lied to Congress twice about speaking with “Bill” at a town hall.
Instead, Walberg has told conflicting versions of the “Lady in Tears” story for four years to attack the ACA, with no indication that he ever worked to help her situation.
Instead, Walberg welcomed “J.B.” into the spotlight and auspices of the Koch Brothers, which subjected her to national criticism for falsehoods, from which Walberg shielded himself.

Instead, Walberg ignores tears of constituents, whose stories don’t suit him politically.

Steven Meyer
Michigan’s 7thDistrict
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

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