Monday, November 19, 2007

Tim Walberg, Time's poster child for Republican indifference

Somewhere this morning, Mark Schauer is smiling.

This week's Time magazine asks the question: "Will Bad Mortgages Hurt the GOP?"- and holds up Tim Walberg as a prime example of conservative indifference to the mortgage crisis that is hurting so many, especially right here in Michigan.

2008 is shaping up to be a bad year for the Bush Republicans if they continue to be tone-deaf to the concerns of average people. Predatory lending practices? Not a problem, says Tim. Just a few folks hurt by that. No big deal.

Last Thursday, to the delight of Democrats, Walberg lived up to his conservative ideals - voting against a bill in the House that tightens restrictions against predatory lending. The measure, which garnered the support of 64 Republicans in passing 291-127, would force lenders to apply for licenses and require them to verify the ability of borrowers to repay loans. "I think the market always works when we let it," Walberg told TIME just before voting against the measure. "We want to make sure that we have opportunities for consumers to have safe and opportune mortgages. This bill, I think, goes away from that, puts heavy regulation in place, discourages lending practices for just very few people who've had that problem."

Time goes on to reel off a bunch of statistics about the condition of the housing market in Michigan, and then they do they practically unthinkable- they make Joe Knollenberg seem like a rational human being. Not only did Joe support the bill, he wants to see more measures put in place to protect homeowners.

"I'm not satisfied with the bill in its current form, but I am going to vote for it. I think that there are some things that could be done to further enhance and help these people."

This bill put Walberg firmly in the "extreme" camp; 64 House Republicans joined Democrats in support of cracking down on predatory lending. Tim seemingly brushes off the "10-15%" of the loans that were "fraudulent or took advantage of people" and called this measure "gotcha" politics. I guess in Tim's world it's OK to throw some folks overboard- better hope that person isn't you.

Enter Senator Mark Schauer, who Time calls a "top tier" opponent.

After Walberg's narrow victory in 2006 (a race in which he outspent his opponent by $1.2 million to $46,000), the Democrats this time have recruited a top tier opponent: State Senator Mark Shauer, who has championed the predatory lending issue in the state legislature, co-sponsoring legislation that would tighten oversight on loan officers and supports programs to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. Schauer plans on campaigning on the issue and accuses Walberg of turning his back on people in need. "The people in Michigan are struggling, and we're doing what we can to help at the state level," Schauer said. "But Washington and my opponent need to step up."

The state legislature needs to step up too- but this is yet another issue that our Republican Senate won't address, of course. Guess that puts them to the right of Joe Knollenberg.

What is Tim's response to this? Blow off the concerns, don't address the problem, and, quick!, point at the governor!

Walberg said he's not worried. "Michigan's got far more problems than just this. The economic climate with the expensive tax increases just put on by the State Legislature and the governor, the challenges with the auto industry: these are far greater concerns than this."

That is going to be one tired message by this time next year, a broken record that will prove that the Republicans have absolutely no vision or ideas for fixing the problems that face Michigan citizens. All they can do is point at Granholm. Got a hunch that answer won't satisfy the electorate.

Happy Thanksgiving, Senator Schauer. Wipe that grin off your face, OK? ;-)