Tea Party Congressman Collects Disability From His Union Job

Author: August 25, 2011 7:43 am

Representative Chip Cravaak (R-MN). Image from http://www.congressratings.com/1338/chip-cravaack-r-mn-8th-rep/

Representative Chip Cravaak of Minnesota was swept into office during the 2010 midterm election on the Tea Party platform. He has since voted for the Paul Ryan plan to kill Medicare, which would force seniors to rely on a voucher system which wouldn’t be likely to cover their vast health needs and costs. But did you know that he’s a raging hypocrite?

Even as he bashed unions during his election campaign, Cravaak enjoyed the benefits of being a member of one. He worked as a pilot for Northwest Air, now Delta, as recently as 2007 and being a pilot means that you are automatically a union member, thus receiving the benefits of union negotiated salaries, vacations and ultimately, disability payments. According to financial records released by Cravaak himself, the Tea Party Representative received $92,273 from disability payments in 2010 alone. So while Cravaak was busy bashing “big government” and unions, he was cashing disability checks.


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But this isn’t the only example of his hypocrisy. In addition to receiving Congressional health care, which is paid for by the government, Cravaak also receives government run health care as a military veteran, meaning he can walk into any government owned medical facility to receive medical care and the taxpayer picks up the tab. He enjoys what he and the Tea Party call “socialized medicine” even as he votes to strip senior citizens of their own government health care.

This kind of hypocrisy is outrageous. This guy got elected after campaigning against unions and government run health care and yet it’s perfectly fine that he gets to enjoy the benefits of both. Just another example of ‘do what I say, not as I do’ politics in America.

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80 Comments

  • Just to address some of the inaccuracies in the article, while assuming the disability payments are correct.

    Congressional health care requires payments though a significant percentage is underwritten by the federal government, as with many employers. Unless he is a disabled Veteran it is unlikely he can walk into a VA hospital to receive treatment since it doesn’t look like he served in combat while in the Navy and there is a means test to qualify for benefits.

  • Frank Miramonti

    The whole political theater looks like rats fighting for scraps of food on a sinking ship. As if blaming anyone for anything or pointing out someones hypocrisy could solve the problem of little or no output of marketable goods and services. We have to make something of value to others here and sell it to each other and abroad. The economic model mandates productive capitol investment. Capitol Investment that produces something of real VALUE and provides gainful employment. That’s the solution. You can not in the long term base a capitalistic economy/society on bogus financial instruments, market bubbles, creation of debt and consumption. Raising taxes on the wealthy would help and its not unprecedented but it won’t solve the long term problem of little or no output. Fostered by an intellectual deficit, lack of imagination and desire directed toward the production of value here we continue to decline. The capitol is available but it’s not being invested. Not here. We need strong economic incentives to force productive capitol investment here. Force the capitol back into the country and you will see creativity and innovation flourish. There has to be a balance or the wealth of this nation will continue to be transferred abroad along with the loyalty of it’s citizens empowered to affect change.

  • Kenneth David

    What most of you winers’ don’t understand is that disability payments is insurance purchased by the employer or possibly by the employee himself as a benefit from of his Company or the Union that offered him a supplemental insurance “over and above the premium the Company pays for disabilities to employees.

    Your ideas about Government paying for anything are ridiculous. The Government doesn’t provide job’s or benefits to anyone. The people who live in a free Country provide everything for a Government, including all government wages and benefits though various types of TAXATION.

    • Hey bonehead – the disability was made available by the Union for its members. He would NOT have access to it unless he was a Union member.

      Taxation is a way for like-minded citizens to provide for the common good of ALL citizens. It keeps services cheaper for all of us because there is no profit margin for the rich to skim off. BTW, “winers” is spelled “whiners.” Try spell-check – when you get good at that try fact checking.

  • I’m from Minnesota and I’m simply mortified. Minnesota Republicans are so darned embarrasing!

  • Sell your computer, your iPhone, and your iPod. Don’t take any antibiotics if you have a cold or an infection. Make sure you have 3 squares for the husband and 10 kids, or if you are a male, be careful at work because you are 20% more likely to die or be injured on your factory job than any worker in a first-world country today. Make sure you have money to support your elderly parents because they have nothing and will starve without your help (no Social Security, no Medicare). Sure you can pay the doctor with a chicken, but you won’t have any recourse when you get cancer but to lie down and die. Enjoy your trip in the wayback machine.

  • I dunno. even the article says that the union enrollment isn’t optional. It was a condition of employment. Plus, VA benefits are a perk of US service. It’s a necessity really, given that your risking life,limbs and the possibility of lifetime injury. We wouldn’t begrudge a veteran health care promised to him when he enlisted. It’s socialized medicine, but far cry from a perfect system. It’s entitlement, but for service. Not for simply existing. So that is not really hypocritical. Unless he said, “I never received it, and\or was looking to cut it”. However disability payments of 90K? seems a little inflated. Either that is healthcare cost or something. Pilots make 40k a year. So how that maths out to 90+k is fishy and likely not true. Where is the sources I ask. I am all for pointing out fallacy but this article was poorly done.

    • Captain Grandpa

      Kristina’s numbers are all wrong. Even Regional Airline captains who are senior and fly the best in their fleet can earn about $100 thou. It is significantly higher at the majors.

    • Apparently, Kristina’s reading comprehension skills are too great, either. The source for the $92k+ in disability payments are from Cravaak himself.

      It doesn’t get any more clearer than that? So how did Kristina make it out of high school, or didn’t she?

    • Are you sure we wouldn’t deny veterans health care they thought they would receive after their service was done? Maybe you don’t know what tea party and repubs are proposing concerning veterans health benefits right now in congress. Do some homework and think again before you cast a vote for these self serving scumbags.

  • I am sick of reading and listening to all of you! How nasty and hateful. I want my Grandparents generation back! They cared, they shared, they read newspapers and they voted!

    • Ya, and they also treated African-Americans like second-class citizens and classified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

      Sounds like a GREAT time to go back to, if you were white and straight.

      • Jacquelin Rochelle Powers

        LOL very true! Women were expected to stay in the kitchen and not have jobs. They were also beaten by their husbands and everyone looked the other way, not to mention we weren’t allowed to vote! Let’s not even get me started if a wife wanted to leave her husband, she was considered to be kidnapping her OWN children!

      • Mike Williams

        And how did discrimination against African-Americans and homosexuals finally come to be illegal and greatly reduced?

        Large scale protests and big-government intervention.

        All the talk against “big government” neglects to mention things like civil rights laws which never would have occurred without a strong federal government. If the southern states had been allowed to do things there way things would have turned out differently. At the very least, change would have happened much slower there.

  • Linda Snodgrass

    And yet, look at the criticism of Warren Buffet in the very first post!!!
    I love the constant excuses for the double standard.

  • I love how he is accused of being a hypocrite when he didn’t have a choice of being in the Union!

    Let’s take a look at the true Hippo’s. Hey Mr. Buffet, if you want to pay more taxes then man up and write a check for 20 billion to the IRS. It’s still a semi-free country. You can do it today without any special approval. Or are you too busy putting together another fund raiser for Obama?

    • You really think just 20 billion dollars would solve our economic crisis? Maybe you should trying thinking sometime.

      • LOL. What a typical lib response. No sir 20 billion wouldn’t be a raindrop in the wasteland known as Obamaland Spending spree.

        But before telling the government to confiscate by force the money of other Americans he should be willing to give up his own. But he won’t because he’s too busy putting together his next Obama fundraiser.

        Do as I say not as I do. The standing liberal mantra.

        • “Obamaland Spending Spree”. Here’s a test question for you, to see how much you know;

          How much of the budget is the wars that BUSH started?

          Here’s another one;

          “Did Bush include the wars in his budgets?”

          The fact that you are trying to change the subject on this post about this congressman is just a testament to your political ineptitude.

          • The article made a false statement when it said Chip bashed unions during his campaign. He NEVER bashed them, in fact he supports them and received numerous union endorsements.

    • Poor argument. Our tax system is not volunteer. You can’t choose how muc you are going to pay. For it to work all the filthy rich need to contribute. At least Warren Buffet is patriotic enough to take the lead. The greedy are ruining this country and destroying the middle class.

    • samuel s fowler

      what a phony hates unions and has a disability retirement,from air lines.”He had a choice” work somewhere else!! he is a total hypocrit

    • Mike Williams

      Taxing all of the richest people would have more of an effect. That is what Buffet has advocated and it makes sense, especially in the long term.

    • highwaterjane60

      Ha! Nobody is forced to join a union. If he didn’t want to join the union, he could have gotten a job at McDonld’s. This is America. We have free choice.

  • What a crooked hypocrite! Those Republicans sure do love their “WELFARE” handout programs! Michelle Bachmann and her farm “subsidies” and remember, she gets paid anytime she takes in “foster” children too. Then they complain about the low income people taking advantage of the same programs!

  • This is a not a well written article, more of a slander piece to get people angry, guess it worked on the simple minded.
    Maybe he deserves to be slandered, maybe he had a family to support before he was elected to congress and needed the benefits he paid into for years. Maybe he’s a jack hole, but this article doesn’t give squat for facts and the commentators here are partisan ignorants for
    Commenting on such little substance.

  • I am a disabled RN. If I work and make over $700.00 a month for 7 months within a certain amount of time, they take away my disability. THIS IS A SOCIAL SECURITY RULE, why doesn’t it apply here? As far as the Military: I come from a family of Military men, but we haven’t had a “Draft” for a very long time. You chose your profession. Do I respect the Military? absolutely. I also respect the “Stay at home Mom’s, Teachers, Sanitation Workers, etc…” You do what your Boss tells you to do, no matter where you work. Bad decisions were made by the Bush administration and we have a huge mess. Shouldn’t we ALL get the same kind of insurance and care that the Government and/or Military receive? AND I say, if you don’t need social security, don’t collect it. If you have enough money for the rest of your life, don’t keep accepting it from places that don’t have it to shell out. We are running out of money in this country–what truly is the answer? Some of us know, but what do we do on our level, honestly?

    • Dear RN, that rule doesn’t apply because he is getting Union benefits and not government benefits. And no, you nor I deserve the same benefits as the people that have risked their lives and family relationships to preserve our freedoms. Neither do government workers. Many of whom got their jobs because of affirmative action and not because they were the best qualified person for the job.

      • “Many of whom got their jobs because of affirmative action and not because they were the best qualified person for the job.”

        ie: non-white people.

      • Yes because we shouldn’t let any of those lazy government employed affirmative action using brown people get benefits. Just the people that shoot brown people or vote to bomb countries with brown people in them. GO AMERICA…Fool

      • Dear Steve,
        I didn’t ask to become disabled. I would give anything to be the person I once was. I have to fight to receive anything and everything and still get turned down for certain benefits. Why don’t we deserve the same benefits as the Military, better yet, the Government? The Military isn’t fighting for our freedom, they are doing what their boss tells them to do.
        I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree with you. We are all Americans and deserve the same treatment.

      • @Steve, WRONG. We all, citizens in good standing, deserve the same benefits regardless of military service. My contributions to America as a civilian are just as important as those of any soldiers, because without the civilian world, the military provides no value or benefit for a free society. Militarism and nationalism, the glorification of the warrior, are always harbingers of the fall of a civilization.

    • Laura Rood · Boston University
      If I understand the tea party philosophy correctly, any one old and disabled better be able to take care of yourself without any government assistance and stop whining about it. They was to make the government irrelevant to our lives…no more government checks, no more Medicare, no more Medicaid..just buck up and be prepared to live on the street and beg for subsistence. These people pretend to be Chrisitan?
      Reply · Like · Unsubscribe · 3 seconds ago

  • Social Movement and unions….let’s see…40 hour work week, children in sweat shops; right to vote for women; Civil rights for everyone; the GI Bill; Social Security, Medicare, mandated education K-12; Small Business Administration; FDA; FCC…Public Financing for campaigns…NASA, which has created more patents than any existing entity–spinning more than $15 in the private business/manufacturing world — we could go on….but we could not go on without these “socialized” endeavors…like many families we trace our history back to “before there was a country” and have fought in all of our conflicts, and on both sides of the Civil War…Let’s be really conservative and PRESERVE these things…they are part of our hard fought for heritage…

  • James Earlywine

    He’s actually willing to give up his access to union benefits, because he has a principled belief that the union mechanism is outdated and mostly corrupt. Some would argue that he is acting admirably, not hypocritically. (and I don’t even like the Tea Party) :P

    • James Earlywine

      I mean, imagine there was a pay structure that said, “We’re going to give half of the sales commissions to the manufacturing workers.”

      He would be foolish not to maximize his outcomes by acting on whatever opportunities exist within the compensation structure, to receive his pay and benefits via the mechanism in place, even if he holds a principled belief that the mechanism is in need of revision, replacement, or elimination.

      • NotADressRehearsa-CareNow

        James I see that you are a “big picture” kind of thinker, by golly. Manufacturing workers receive 100% of their income as a result of sales people, so they are receiving “commission.” Also, isn’t it equally ok for anyone receiving any benefits to “maximize their outcomes?” and i love that he is “willing to give up…” Then jump in and take action, Congressman!

    • “Willing to give up” and actually doing so are two different things. He hasn’t “given up” anything… better, he hasn’t paid back anything he’s already accepted… I’d like to see him “give up” his tax-payer subsidized Congressional AND VA healthcare benefits… but he won’t. Typical hypocritical politician. The very system HE benefited from HE now seeks to dismantle while still suckling at the dole.

  • I would like to know more, especially: what is the nature of his disability?
    Is it physical or cognitive or hidden illness? Is he on temporary or permanent disability; partial or full disability? How in the world does someone get 92K per year on any kind of disability? I have hidden disabilities, my SSDI amounts to just over 10K a year.

    • He probably has erectile dysfunction!

    • PeopleB4Profit

      And he wants to take that 10k away from you!

    • My guess is he has a nice private disability plan, not SSI. Insurance companies will issue staggeringly high amounts of monthly benefits depending on the profession. Of course, the premiums are high, but it’s possible the premiums were paid by the airline as part of his pilot benefits. Quite likely the policy has an “own occupation” clause which means he only has to be disabled from his occupation at the time the policy was issued… in this case, as a pilot. He could have developed vertigo or eye problems or diabetes or some other ailment that is not physically apparent, but would prevent him from working as a professional pilot. With an “own occ” clause, you get your payments even if you’re able to work in another occupation and regardless of how much you make in your new occupation. The payment structure may be set up for several years or for life… it all depends on what the union negotiated for him.

  • There is no way they can defned this!!! And the fools who do the voting think these clowns are with them, they are being used.

  • The balls on this guy…

  • Terrorist
    Embedded in
    America Party

  • It’s okay, folks. He’s a Republican.

    Nothing to see here; move along, serfs.

  • Will Stockwin

    Now, now. Michele Bachmann sets the bar for hypocrisy pretty high in Minnesota and Cravaack is just trying to keep up.

    • “Source?” you ask. Such a well trained right winger! Except that the source of the information is in the article: Chip’s own financial disclosure form. Read much?

    • What’s wrong? You only believe what your Tea Party handlers tell you to believe? Can’t handle the truth?

    • Here try it again wingnut!!!!!
      According to financial records released by Cravaak himself, the Tea Party Representative received $92,273 from disability payments in 2010 alone. So while Cravaak was busy bashing “big government” and unions, he was cashing disability checks.

      • All Minnesotans should demand he pay it back or donate to a worthy cause! Or change his votes against similar programs to deserving Americans.

  • It’s funny how “socialized” became a dirty word. I like being a socialized person living in a socialized society.

    • Think where many of us would be without our socialized fire and/or police departments.

      Last year my alarm went off at 3 a.m. Three sheriff deputies were at my home within minutes. They searched the grounds around my home, as well as coming in and checking the rooms and closets to make sure I wasn’t being held under duress.

  • Fred Farklestone

    What exactly is his disability? How can he work as a Congressman if he’s 100% disabled? Is he collecting a VA disability check,is he also collecting a Social Security Disability? Is his disabilty physical or mental?
    Someone from his district needs to run a full-court press investigation on what ails him!
    Is that a local union insignia on his shirt?

    • Cravaak suffers from sleep apnea, which is a treatable condition, but so far, he refuses to get treatment (or admit to Delta that he got treatment), and thus be cleared to return to work, where he made $174k per year.

      The reason he doesn’t get it treated (or admit that he’s been treated), is because he would lose that $92k+ in disability payments each year, for doing now work. But in addition to those payments, he also receives his Congressional salary and perks.

      So there’s the perfect incentive for a Tea Party to indulge in the hypocrisy we all know they love.

      Nice work if you can get it,
      And you can get it if you try.

  • The real question is why wasn’t all this brought up DURING THE ELECTION?

  • Teapublicans, Religoticions (my new word) have an incredibly HUGE disconnect and even worse insight! Scary!

    • No Patsy Here

      Rep. Chip Cravaak “being willing” to give up his access to union benefits and DOING it are very separate situations. If he MEANS it, then give it up and be in the same boat as the majority of citizens. I cannot believe that anyone is buying this. Think people. I am guessing he doesn’t give any audience time to lobbyists, either.

      I am offended that he was on disability while campaigning for office, was he off of disability in time to serve his representative duties? Did those who voted for him realize he was disabled?

      No sounds like every other Tea Party candidate, rules apply to everyone else, but NOT TO HIM.

      Unfortunately, this principaled man, who is “willing to give up his union benefits” – (yet collected $92,000+)- represents ALL of us in his voting in laws and rulings that concern average citizens.

  • Teapublicans are scum and that’s all I have to say as a grandma, a nurse and an American. Thank you.

  • It’s called InsaniTEA.

  • While this is a definite case of blatant hypocrisy I have but one issue with this article and that’s the mention of his military benefits.

    1% of Americans joined the armed forces and they’re more than entitled to all the benefits they get. That being said, I will definitely be passing the word about his anti-union stance while accepting union disability!!!

    As far as the congressional benefits: They all make MORE than enough money to pay for their own health insurance…and I think the lifelong pension regardless of service needs to be changed!

    • Katharine Saavedra

      No one has suggested that veterans don’t deserve their benefits. Indeed, they deserve so much more than they get. The point is that the Congressman would strip others of benefits similar to those he enjoys.

      • Why is ANY pension for disability being granted to this fellow? If he is fit to serve in the HOUSE he is not disabled!

        • It’s because he can no longer fly an airplance due to his disability. Most people are not able to bounce-back from a career-ending disability like him and find an even better paying job as a congressman. It’s a nice insurance policy to have when you still have a mortgage and kids to put through college. Thank you union that negotiated this insurance benefit.

          • He is probably making more as a Congressman than he was as a pilot!! Plus he gets medical care and a life time pension for being in Congress.

            As for his Vet benefits, I have no problem with those. But if he was true to his convictions, he wouldn’t take the disability checks from a union, he wouldn’t use the Congress med plan and whatever his Vet Benefits don’t cover, he can pay for it himself

    • Bolony! I heard this argument all my military career. We’re fighting socialism so we deserve our socialist benefits. Yes, those of us that joined the military do deserve our benefits. I certainly feel I deserve mine considering I got disabled in the line of duty. But, the fact remains that the uniformed services are not private industry. They’re not working for Blackwater. The military is a socialistic, tax funded, Big Government entity. I hated being one of the only few liberals when I was in. Like I always say, if they don’t like Big Government, hire themselves out as mercenaries.

    • I also have no issue with the military pension, but this guy is a member of a party that wants to cut all the benefits of the troops in the same way they want to hose the senior citizens. Bachmann and her pals have already said multiple times that they think the vets don’t deserve the care and wants to hand them vouchers, too.

      Mr. Congressman needs to give it back or shut the heck up about the programs for others!

  • Aquarian Dreamer

    meh. he was just sucking up to his fan base….er sorry constituents. any more hypocrasy is the norm, mostly from republicans, but more and more from the democrates as well.

    they forget that they are not the end all be all of government. they have to also convince approximatly 300 other people before anything can be passed through congress, let alone the one person who ratifies it, or the 9 who can deny it on constitutional grounds. yet every election what do they do? I WILL CHANGE THIS GOVERNMENT!!! I WILL REPEAL OBAMACARE!!! I WILL PROTECT JOB CREATORS(uh dude yoru actually going to stand for the middle class against your corperate backers???)!!! same old bs any high-schooler should be able to see through.
    hypocrisy is unfortunately part of the system. after so long it has been legitimized, by both voters and politicians. Obama at least actually tried to follow through on His campaign promises(at least some of them) and what happened? senate overturned his order to close the gitmo concentration camp, Obama’s healthcare plan failed, and he actually has to negotiate with the tea party jihad terrorists to raise the debt ceiling, after raising it so many times willingly HE has to negotiate to get a bit of legal housecleaning done..

  • AmericanWoman1953

    Just another Teapublican who believes it’s okay for him to take advantage of social programs which are for ALL Americans, but other people must not be allowed to these same programs.

    Teapublicans are all hypocritical spongers off society; they all need to be removed from office ASAP before they destroy what’s left of our country.

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