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Bergman off base

To the Journal editor:

To address the financial burden of maintaining two residences — one in their home district and one in the capital — Congresspeople are eligible for reimbursement for living expenses, including lodging and food. U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet is abusing his privileges.

Daily meal expenses for Congressmembers are limited to $79, and lodging caps vary depending on the month, from $172 to $258 per day.

Bergman is the program’s top spender. In 2023, he was reimbursed more than $32,000 for lodging and nearly $12,000 for meals. These funds come from the Congressional budget, which taxpayers fund. 

There is a significant disparity. As a public servant, Rep. Bergman receives financial assistance from taxpayers to cover his DC apartment rent. His primary residence in Louisiana is valued at $750,000, and his summer cottage in the UP is valued at $1 million. Bergman’s financial stability with multiple government pensions raises questions about the need for such high reimbursements.

It’s disheartening enough that by claiming a “homestead” in the UP, Rep. Bergman is exempt from paying school taxes to Gogebic County, depriving local public schools of $4,754 annually. This is a significant loss for a community where many struggle with poverty and every dollar counts.

It’s hard to reconcile. Bergman claims meals of $79 a day, but he’s voted against food stamps for people experiencing poverty.

Why can’t Rep. Bergman make it financially with his sizable military pension, Social Security, private pension, investments, and $174,000 salary? Does he need taxpayers’ help paying for his meals?

While Rep. Bergman enjoys a comfortable financial situation, our district’s constituents, who make 20% less per household than the national average, grapple with the high cost of living. Our district is plagued by childhood poverty and low wages that can’t sustain a family. The residents he represents live in counties with the highest unemployment rates in Michigan, where finding affordable housing, childcare, or medical care is a constant struggle.

We need a change. I am running to defeat Bergman because I am fighting for our families, freedoms, and futures, not my own personal gain. I strive to embody a new hope for constituents in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula by creating a more accountable and representative government that truly serves the needs of our communities, not just myself.

BOB LORINSER

Marquette

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob Lorinser, D-Marquette, is a candidate in the August primary election, the winner of which will face U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, in November.

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