Meet Tim Walberg: The Birthers’ Man in Washington

Following the midterm elections, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Today, meet Tim Walberg, who “was a tea partier before there was a tea party”:

Tim Walberg, who is returning to the House next year after representing Michigan's 7th district for one term from 2007-2009, brags that he “was a tea partier before there was a tea party.” Indeed, Walberg enthusiastically embraces the most extreme aspects of the Tea Party—from corporate pandering and vowing to cut social safety-net programs to far-right views on social issues and a predilection for conspiracy theories.

Walberg is perhaps most famous for his unabashed embrace of birtherism. Asked by a radio show caller if he thinks President Obama is an American citizen or a Muslim, Walberg responded:

"You know, I don't know, I really don't know," Walberg responded. "We don't have enough information about this President. He was never given a job interview that was complete."

"But that's not the issue now," Walberg went on. "He is President. Right now, we need to make sure that he doesn't remain as President. Whether he's American, a Muslim, a Christian, you name it."

While other candidates have tried to tiptoe away from their own birther claims, Walberg later doubled down, saying that he would “take [Obama] at his word that he’s an American citizen”…and then suggested that Congress impeach Obama in order to obtain a copy of his birth certificate.

But birtherism isn’t the only right-wing conspiracy theory that Walberg backs. He has repeated the bizarre—and completely debunked—theory that the Chinese are drilling for oil off the coast of Florida. And he continues to repeat discredited ideas about the origins of the Iraq war. He said that Saddam Hussein funded the Al Qaeda terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks, and insisted in a debate last month that Iraq “absolutely” had weapons of mass destruction before the American invasion—something that even George W. Bush now admits is not true.

Walberg backs an extreme pro-corporate economic agenda. When Walberg first won election in 2006, the ultra-conservative Club For Growth counted his victory as its own, bragging that its PAC “scored its first-ever knock-out of an incumbent” when Walberg defeat a moderate incumbent in the Republican primary. The Club for Grouth had poured millions of dollars into Walberg’s 2006 campaign, spending $1 million in the primary, and then producing vicious attack adds against his Democratic opponent in the general election. This year, American Future Fund, an especially shadowy group with ties to Big Agriculture, spent over $500,000 to run an ad attacking Walberg’s opponent with false claims about health care reform and clean energy legislation.

And, it seems, Walberg’s big business backers will get what they paid for. The League of Conservation Voters named him to their 2010 Dirty Dozen, the second time he had made that list. During his one previous term in Congress, LCV said, “Walberg opposed every major clean energy reform…earning a 0% LCV score.” LCV continued, “During his two years in office, he was on the wrong side of conservation and clean energy on 32 out of 33 votes. He even voted against the No Child Left Inside Act, designed to help educate children about the natural environment.” Indeed, no clean energy effort is too small to earn Walberg’s disdain: on the campaign trail, he slammed Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for riding her bicycle to work.

Walberg wants to dramatically cut social safety net programs, and directs much of his scorn on Social Security. He’s advocated for privatizing the program, and agreed with a supporter at a Tea Party event who said Social Security is unconstitutional and “a Ponzi scheme.” In 2006, he called Social Security “socialism at its finest,” adding, “That’s defined as socialism when the government is required to take care of us all.”

Walberg’s Religious Right credentials are also stellar. He opposes abortion rights, including in cases of rape or incest. As a member of the House, he cosponsored two bills that, according to NARAL, “would end all legal abortion, most common forms of birth control, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization". He voted against a bill that would have provided for stem cell research.

In 2008, Walberg was the only member of the House education committee to vote “no” on extending funding for the Head Start program. He objected to a provision in the bill that prohibited Head Start preschools from discriminating based on religion, warning that a Christian parochial school might have to hire a Muslim or “a Wiccan from a coven in Ann Arbor.”

In the House, Walberg voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and against expanding hate crimes legislation to include gender identity and sexual orientation, and against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He also opposed equal pay legislation and the 2008 Paycheck Fairness Act.