Tim Walberg for Congress
Tim Walberg for Congress

Battle Creek Enquirer: Walberg's focus: jobs, economy

By: Nick Schirripa

He's had two years in Congress, but freshman U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said he's not finished yet.

"I said that, number one, I'd listen to and learn from the people in the 7th district. We're still doing that," he said. "We said Washington appeared to be broken and I found out that it is."

Walberg, 57, said with two more years, he can do his part to try to repair "a great system of government that has been run amok with special interests, politicians who see re-election as the most important thing and with a government that is growing and continues to grow too large."

His first priority if re-elected will be jobs and the economy, Walberg said. "That's absolute job number one especially for a guy that represents a district in Michigan."

Walberg said he would work to keep regulations from restricting economic growth, and he would look for potential tax reductions.

There also might be tax dollars Walberg said he could bring back to the 7th District to spur growth.

"That's why I've offered earmarks but not earmarks outside of the budget," he said. "I've offered earmarks using dollars that have been paid already from tax dollars coming from the state: Taxpayers, gas tax, aviation fuel tax."

In July 2007, Walberg voted against a $104 billion federal transportation and housing bill — which ultimately was approved — that contained a $500,000 earmark for a new runway at Battle Creek's W.K. Kellogg Airport, an earmark Walberg took credit for getting into the bill.

Walberg said while he wanted the airport to get the funding, he voted against the bill because there was too much pork in it.

"I said it could be done without giving in to the blackmail of what's become all too common: 'If you'll support my pork, I'll support your pork,'" he said. "I said I was not going to get caught up with that, and if it came to the point that a bill was so filled with egregious pork that I couldn't support it, I would vote against it. I still thought I would get significant support and help for my district from appropriate funding sources."

One of the threads in the country's economic fiber is energy, Walberg said, and he has been supporting an "all-of-the-above" energy plan that calls for increased domestic oil drilling, conservation efforts and investments in alternative energy technology.

"I've sponsored legislation, the No More Excuses Energy Act, and co-sponsored the American Energy Act ... that had incentives for wind. When we have, in my district, a number of entities that are developing wind energy or are manufacturing components for wind energy, that's a good thing for Michigan," he said. "If we give a lengthy incentive such as 10-year tax benefits to investors in wind energy, that gives them enough time to recoup at least my investment if not to make a profit."

The government should help American auto makers make the transition to producing alternative-fuel vehicles, Walberg said, and there also needs to be investment in new refineries and nuclear energy production.

Health care also would be a priority if he's re-elected, Walberg said, and he has offered a proposal to address key components of the health care system: Offering tax credits to people to pay for health care, increasing competition by allowing people to buy insurance from other states, allowing small businesses to band together to increase buying power with insurance companies, encouraging the use of health savings accounts, controlling lawsuits and creating a national health data system to cut medical administrative costs.

"We have a great system of health care here; we just have to put the framework around it that allows more freedom and access to more people and ultimately having everybody covered so they can access it without the taxpayers paying for it," he said.

At the end of the day, Walberg said he just wants to listen to and learn from the residents in the 7th District.

"I think that's what people ought to be able to expect out of their government, that it's as close and personal as possible, it's attuned to their issues and concerns, whether the representative can agree with everyone or not," he said.

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