U.S. Representative Tim Walberg stopped by Dexter this past Monday morning for a community coffee hour responding to questions from an audience with plenty on their minds.
About 60 constituents from around Walberg’s 7th District gathered in the American Legion Hall across from A & W to hear what the congressman had to say. Those with questions were asked to write them out on cards beforehand. The questions were then read aloud by retired judge and Dexter Forum Moderator Karl Fink.
Walberg began the meeting promptly at 9:30 welcoming everyone and saying, ““I love Michigan, fight for Michigan, yet it’s the seventh district that means the most to me because that’s really who I represent. So we’re glad to be back here in Dexter today, and doing this town hall.”
Knowing he was in a Democratic stronghold of his district, the conservative Walberg pointed out his ongoing collaboration with the popular Democratic representative Debbie Dingell whose 12th District borders his 7th.
“We work together quite often on the issues that we can agree on,” Walberg said. “We work together. We’ve sponsored bills together. We’ve had bills signed into law together on those things, whether it’s the Great Lakes issues, whether it’s opioid, heroin abuse, whether it’s veterans issues. We’ve done town halls together.”
Leading into the Q & A time, he read a quote to set the tone:
“America is like a healthy body, and its resistance is three fold. It’s patriotism, its morality, its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”
The profound quote he attributed to this unlikely source – Joseph Stalin. Walberg used it as an illustration that the unique character and strength of America was evident even to a dictator with drastically different ideals.
More than twenty questions were submitted. Subjects included abortion, PFAS, income taxes, school security, support of presidential policies and behavior, the “radical left” agenda, election reform, and gun control.
Much to the impatience and frustration of some audience members, Walberg’s determination to get through as many questions as possible quelled any attempts at discussion or follow-up questions, a format the representative explained in his opening remarks was by design, from experience, to keep everyone on-topic.
Here are a few of the highlights.
Karl Fink read the first question by Sally from Gregory: “What do you think should be done about PFAS contamination in our water supply?
“We’ve got to clean it up,” Walberg quickly quipped. He went on to explain this was one of those bipartisan issues that he, Debbie Dingell, and others are working on to get the appropriate agencies to take action.
“Fortunately in Michigan we’re ahead of the game,” continued Walberg. “During the last administration, a ‘czar’ was put in place to oversee the water contamination issue and to acquire the funding. The state has put some significant dollars into it. Debbie and I and others are pushing the feds to up their responsibility.”
One of the livelier interactions came a little later on the topic of income tax.
Susan in Lima Township didn’t have a question, but a statement. Karl Fink read, “Last year my federal withholding tax dropped $2.86 for my paycheck. Yet, instead of receiving a tax refund, ZI now have to pay the IRS hundreds of dollars. The math doesn’t add up. The GOP tax code has not worked for me.”
“I’m sorry it hasn’t worked for you,” Walberg responded. “I can’t really comment on the specifics because I don’t know the specifics. But if you’d like to contact my office …”
The congressman was interrupted by someone from the audience which quickly led to others talking above one another to be heard.
Walberg offered, “We have people in my office that can walk you through your tax policy, your tax reform and find the answer.”
Those in the audience who were angry about the subject resumed shouting over one another to be heard. Walberg concluded the topic with;
“Well, let me say the majority of people across the state because of the tax cuts have experienced just the opposite of what you’ve experienced. Most recently a report came out, from a nonpartisan group, saying that the average was a 33% reduction for individuals.”
Bill from Chelsea asked, “The Guardian reports that Trump has made 7645 false statements since becoming president. That was in January 2019, how can you as a fundamentalist Christian support a proven liar?”
“I’ve worked with members of Congress who may not have always told the truth”, answered Walberg, “Or their statement was taken out of context and made to be a lie. I don’t have a choice of what President I work with. I represent the 7th District for the best effect that the district can have as a result of my representation.”
“I don’t know whether the President’s lies that are alleged to be lies, or if they are lies in your mind,” continued Walberg. “I serve a president whose policy is correct and it’s shown to be correct in our economy … I’m going to keep that going. And so while the American public elected this president, I will work with this president in any way possible.”
Bill from Chelsea asked about the Border Wall. “Have you ever spoken with Representative Will Hurd, a republican of the 23rd Congressional District of Texas? He represents voters living in a district that includes the longest section of the US Mexican border. He has stated that there is no emergency and a wall is not necessary. Why do you think it is?
“I know Will,” replied Walberg. “We’re good friends and a good portion of his district doesn’t need a wall. He would tell you, ‘We don’t need a wall along the entire border. We need it where it needs to be.’
Walberg explained that is exactly what President Trump is doing by collaborating with U.S. Customs, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, and leaders – asking them where a wall is needed. He pointed out that both Presidents Obama and Bush also built boarder walls in selected places.
“It’s only because the President’s name is Trump that there is any opposition to it right now,” he added stirring up another round of groans and shouts from the group.
While those in disagreement were vocal in their opposition, looking around the room Walberg also had plenty of supporters who silently nodded their heads in agreement to what the congressman was saying.
In his closing statement, Representative Walberg asked the audience to consider our nation’s constitution with its amendments and the Bill of Rights “implemented for us regardless of our belief, lack of belief, our position, our political party, or where we live in the country. It was designed in a way that would benefit this country the best.”
The coffee hour ended promptly at 10:30 and Representative Walberg left to catch a flight to Washington DC and continue his representation of the 7th District.