Are you furious?

Congressman Cline, a regular guest on the rightwing Newsmax channel, thinks those of us who live in his Congressional district are “furious” that they can’t watch it on DirecTV anymore.

He said so during an interview on, um, Newsmax:

“My constituents are furious because they rely on Newsmax for information that cuts through all the woke rhetoric to actually provide people in the Shenandoah and Roanoke valleys with facts and not a spin in a liberal direction. So, they’re so upset at losing [Newsmax], they’ve been calling my office.”

Despite the best efforts of Cline and others to turn this into a case of liberal censorship of conservative viewpoints, DirecTV’s decision to drop Newsmax was an economic one, a function of the free market that Cline purports to revere.

In a statement, DirecTV said it wanted to “continue to offer the network,” but the channel’s demands for carriage fee increases would have led to “significantly higher costs that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base.”

Newsmax wanted more money from DirecTV, and DirecTV didn’t want to pay it. So they dropped it. Capitalism in action.

While I have no doubt that some people in the Sixth District are angry, and have contacted Cline’s office, I would be curious to know exactly how many– compared, say, to the number who have contacted him to support reproductive rights or gun violence prevention measures, or to denounce his votes to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, or to urge him to protect Social Security and Medicare from cuts…

Strangely he has never discussed these contacts.

My guess is that only a very small percentage of Cline’s constituents are devoted, furious viewers of Newsmax. But of course those are the ones to whom he thinks he needs to pay attention.

Cline’s hypocritical letter to Biden

In his new role as chair of the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force, Congressman Cline signed a letter to President Biden with other House Republicans faulting the president for missing budget deadlines and failing to submit a balanced budget.

They wrote:

The American people have spoken and made it abundantly clear that the United States must no longer be governed in a state of crisis or brinkmanship. They expect their duly elected leaders to take the initiative to ensure that the vital functions of government are managed responsibly and in a timely manner.

The urgency of our Nation’s fiscal crisis is unprecedented. It is imperative that we move quickly to address skyrocketing inflation, a crippling $31.5 trillion in national debt, and the impending insolvency of our Nation’s major trust funds.

With the induction of a new Congress, Democrats and Republicans must seize this opportunity to fix our Nation’s unsustainable financial trajectory. That process must begin with your submission of a balanced Presidential Budget to Congress.

What makes this letter laughable is the following:

• As president, Donald Trump missed deadlines for submitting a budget in two of his four years as president. Cline and his fellow Republicans were silent.

• Trump never once submitted a budget that was even close to balanced. Trump’s administration incurred nearly 25 percent of the current national debt. Cline and his fellow Republicans were silent.

• Instead of considering ways to protect the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, Cline and his RSC cohorts propose cutting benefits to seniors who depend on them.

Cline’s balloon blather

Not only did Congressman Cline display his ignorance by faulting the Biden administration for failing to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon while it was over Montana, and the debris could have injured or killed people or destroyed property on the ground, but he somehow connected it to classified documents found in Biden’s garage and to Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Cline prepares to chase wild geese

Following his reappointment (after a two-year gap) to the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Cline posted on Facebook:

In fact there’s a lot more evidence that Cline’s “friend” Congressman Jordan (now the committee chair) ignored reports of sexual abuse of wrestlers at the Ohio State University than there is that the Biden administration is “weaponizing” the federal government. But I don’t suppose Cline and other House Republicans will be pursuing that.

Now Cline is pretending to be outraged at the discovery of some classified documents in Biden’s possession from when he was vice president and a senator.

I say “pretending” because Cline expressed absolutely no outrage about the discovery of classified and secret documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence following an FBI raid last year. In fact the only outrage he did express was that the FBI executed a legal search warrant approved by a federal judge based on evidence of possible criminality.

By contrast, Biden voluntarily allowed a search of his property.

And we have yet to hear from Cline about the discovery of classified documents at the home of Republican former vice president Mike Pence.

Congressman Cline: Do you also have “some questions” for Trump and Pence?

With all the time and effort that Cline will devote to chasing wild geese, I hope he’ll have some time to devote to the real needs of his constituents.

Cline’s committee takes aim at Social Security and Medicare

Congressman Cline seems awfully proud to be selected to chair the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force.

What Cline doesn’t mention is that the RSC wants to slash Social Security and Medicare benefits for tens of millions of aging and retiring Americans.

Under a plan developed by the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives in the House, senior citizens would face a five-year delay to claim Medicare, the government health care program for seniors that currently allows people to access the program when they turn 65. And the retirement age for Social Security would also increase to 70, compared with today’s full retirement age of between 66 and 67 years old.

The reason for the push? The “miracle” of longer life expectancies, according to the Republican Study Committee’s documents. But while Americans are living longer than in earlier generations, the average age of retirement is 61 — or 5 years earlier than workers say they had expected to step back from the workforce, according to Gallup. In other words, people may believe they’ll work longer, but on average, Americans are stepping back five to six years before they even reach Social Security’s current full retirement age.

Because of this, boosting the age to claim benefits would likely increase hardship and poverty for older Americans, especially for low-income, rural Americans and those who have to stop working due to health issues or to take care of family members, experts say. 

Older? Low-income? Rural? That’s a big part of the population of the part of Virginia that Cline purports to represent.

That means either missing three years of benefits compared with current retirees, or opting to claim benefits earlier — which Social Security allows retirees to do — in exchange for a permanent reduction in benefits. Generally, retiring three years earlier than the full retirement age equates to a 20% decline in monthly benefits, according to the Social Security Administration.

“That means that for even those people who work to age 70, you never catch up with the cut in benefits,” said Nancy Altman, the president of Social Security Works, an advocacy group for the benefit program.

She added, “It particularly hurts those in low-income, physically demanding jobs” who are more likely to stop working earlier due to health issues.

Postponing eligibility for Medicare “would leave most older Americans age 65 -70 significantly underinsured and threatens their finances and their health,” said Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst, at The Senior Citizens League, an advocacy group for older Americans. 

While Cline claims to worry about the long-term fiscal stability of Social Security, and whether it will be available for his daughters, his only solution is to make it harder for older Americans to achieve financial security in their later years.

Would he support legislation to protect Social Security by lifting the cap on taxes for the highest-income Americans and requiring them to pay more to protect a program that’s essential for the well-being of lower-income Americans?

I think we know the answer to that.

Cline wants to have it both ways

During the four-day Passion of the GOP in the House of Representatives this week, Congressman Cline received sharp criticism on social media from some of his hard-right constituents for voting 15 times to elect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that he is trying to reconcile two irreconcilable things: His repeated support for McCarthy and his congratulations for the handful of House Republicans who just as repeatedly refused to do so.

Hint: It wasn’t Ben Cline

Only one Republican member of Congress turned out for a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol marking the anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. That Republican was not Congressman Cline.

Gathering on the House steps with the families of officers who lost their lives in connection with the riot, lawmakers honored the fallen officers as well as those injured in the lengthy battle with those who stormed the Capitol.

And again, no acknowledgement from Cline about what happened two years ago Friday.

Here’s a reminder of what we know Cline was up to before, during and after the assault.

Cline will hold town halls in Roanoke and Page Counties December 16

Congressman Cline will hold town hall meetings on Friday December 16 in Roanoke County and Page County.

The Roanoke County town hall is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Hollywood’s Restaurant & Bakery, 7770 Williamson Road. Register here.

The Page County town hall is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Rudy’s Diner, 418 North 5th Street, Shenandoah. Register here.

Citizens of Roanoke and Page Counties will be given priority regarding comments.