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COLLINS: House GOP suffering from social insecurity

  • (NICK ANDERSON / Houston Chronicle)

When it comes to congressmen behaving badly — and such a list it is, my friends — the prize this week goes to Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon. Although I am sorry to say that his bad behavior does not involve any interesting new illicit sex issues.

It's surprising that we never noticed him before. After all, Walden has a long legislative background, including being a founder of the House Small Brewers Caucus, as well as the first member of the House to contract swine flu in 2009. But our mission today involves his role as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee — the member in charge of getting other Republican members elected next year.

When President Barack Obama released his budget, Walden put on his NRCC hat and homed in on the much-publicized proposal to reduce the way cost-of-living raises are computed for Social Security. It was, the congressman claimed on CNN, “a shocking attack on seniors.”

“I think he's going to have a lot of pushback from some of the major senior organizations on this and Republicans, as well,” Walden said.

Consider the poor American public. They were already being flung into a debate that involves long discussions about the impact of “chained CPI.” Now they have to figure out what to make of the leader of the Republican re-election effort attacking their president for doing something the Republicans have been demanding for years.

And it was awful for the Democrats, who generally spend their political lives defending Social Security from any changes whatsoever. Most of them rolled their eyes, muttered soft, low moans and tried to change the subject. One, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, successfully diverted all attention from entitlement issues by tweeting Cyndi Lauper “couldn't believe how hot u were” after a show at the White House. We will take this matter up again when we revisit the importance of having elected officials restrict their social media visits to moments when they are under the strict supervision of staff members.

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