Is anybody but Walden looking out for us?
We don’t always tend to agree with our hometown U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-2nd District.
At times since he moved from state to federal politics, he seems to be a little too in lockstep with the party line, in stark contrast to his years as a state legislator, when he embodied what we have come to admire about past Oregon Republican leaders like senators Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood.
These were centrist representatives who served all of Oregon, weren’t afraid of the political fallout from working across party lines and could reach common ground for the benefit of their constituents and the country.
Hewing to the party policies has served Walden well in Congress. He has risen steadily in authority and is now fifth in House GOP leadership and poised to lead the committee responsible for next year’s GOP House campaigns. But Walden’s comments last week on the president’s budget proposal have generated loud criticism from both sides of the aisle, particularly from the most conservative element of his own party.
After criticizing the president’s plan to change the formula for Social Security and Medicare cost-of-living increases as “trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors,” Walden heard howls from both sides of the aisle.
That’s not much of a surprise, since the idea originate with Republican leadership in the first place, and Obama added it to his budget as a bargaining chip with the GOP. But the conservative Club for Growth has gone too far in painting a target on Walden and promising a primary fight in the 2014 election.
We hope it backfires, even with the most conservative of Walden’s 2nd District constituents. Because that single statement shows Walden has a true understanding, regard and desire to protect the people in his district.
Look at the demographics of his district to understand why: The 2nd Congressional District is mostly rural, older than the average urban district, and largely blue collar, whether in agriculture, resource jobs or manufacturing.
These people have worked hard to make a living that has been chipped away at over the years as a result of changing federal environmental policies. Their honest and understandable expectation is that the safety net they paid into over the course of their working lives — Social Security and Medicare — will be there to protect them and help them survive as living expenses increase through their golden years.
Walden was right to say both Democrats and Republicans are trying to balance the budget on seniors’ backs. While his own party rails at his “hypocrisy,” the ground-level view is that the party faithful are the hypocrites as they fight tooth and nail to protect corporate welfare in the form of tax loopholes while they let the working-class families upon which this nation is grounded take the hit.
Ironically, these are the same people Republicans have called staunch supporters through the years. And now the Democrats are hewing to the same elitist rhetoric. Does anyone look out for the little guy anymore? We’d like to believe Walden does and will be rewarded at the polls next year.
If the Republicans — and Democrats, for that matter — are hoping to reinvent themselves, we suggest they examine other areas of the budget for cost savings.
In addition to the afore-mentioned tax loopholes, the massive snarl of obstructive federal regulations faced by businesses might be another place to go.
These regulations have so many redundancies and bureaucratic snarls, the nation could surely save money by streamlining and consolidating.
Also, figure out what really are essential services — like Social Security and Medicare — and pare back on the pork and sacred cows. Yes, communities like ours will have to sacrifice some, but our nation will be better as a whole.
Almost our entire government needs to be examined and reinvented so it can start doing what it is charged with doing: serving the public.