Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Accountability Toy

Oh, this is good. OMB Watch has a fun website I hadn't seen before:

It has a lot of great information like:
  • So far this year there have been $20,244,923 in Federal contracts awarded to our District. Of those;
  • 75.8% have not been competitively bid;
  • 12.4% have been open bid, but only one bid was received;
  • Over $1 million can't be determined how it was awarded.
The site also lists the names of contractors. If I had the time, I'd be curious to see how the contract awards match up with campaign donations listed over at the FEC website.

FedSpending also breaks down program assistance within the District. The last full year they have is FY2005, where the District received $603,549,754 in Federal funds. This includes everything from Social Security payments to SBA loans and $1.9 million in SCHIP funds. As a District, we ranked 245 out of 435 in total amount received.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

AARP: This is Ridiculous

This from the comment section of the Medicare Part D post:
Medicare might be allowing seniors to change their prescription plan, but what about the many seniors and people on fixed incomes that can even afford their Medicare because of increasing premiums? AARP has set up So that we can sign a petition to make our voice heard. They also provide updated info, videos, and a way for you to e-mail your congressman and let him know how you feel. I’m working to help AARP promote better Medicare, because this is an issue that affects all of us...

Clean Elections Off To A Good Start

I've made no secret that I'm a fan of removing special interest influence from elections. When someone like our own Representative Scott Garrett will vote against a bill benefiting Greenwood Lake that he previously voted for twice, apparently because a special interest group with only 40,000 members comes out against it, something is seriously wrong with the process. Nothing like watching our Representative bend our District over a barrel to ensure he gets some campaign donations and expenditures on his behalf.

At the state level, the Clean Elections program seeks to eliminate the Garrett-esque about face by removing corporate and large individual donations from the process. In the first poll released about the program, it seems it's already had a positive impact on voters. Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind teamed up to review the program.

Here's what they found:
• Twice as many likely voters in the Clean Elections districts had heard quite a lot or some about the Clean Elections legislation compared to the state as a whole
(44% to 22%).
• The same was true regarding awareness of the legislative races in their districts, with 70% of likely voters in the Clean Elections districts saying they had heard quite a lot or some about the races, compared to 37% of likely voters statewide.
• Voters in the Clean Elections districts also reported having received more information than voters in the rest of the state. Eighty-two percent of likely voters in the Clean Elections Districts reported receiving campaign ads in the mail, compared to 49% statewide. Seventy-four percent of likely voters in the Clean
Elections districts said they had gotten information about the legislative races from an article or articles in the newspaper, compared to 56% statewide.
These are tangible results. Something not in the report that is also tangible was voter turnout. It's widely believed turnout earlier this month was the lowest ever for a legislative election, with estimates at 30%. That's a 4% drop in turnout from 2003, the last time the entire legislature was up for re-election, and effectively means 15.01% of the population gets to call the shots.

In the 37th District, where the Republicans did not qualify for the program, the unofficial results show a 5.9% drop in the percentage of registered voters voting for State Senator over 2003's number.

HOWEVER, in the 14th District the drop was .6% (even though 2,775 more people voted), and in the 24th turnout increased 6.1% (nearly 11,000 more voters). While still not great, State Senate voting for the 14th and 24th were 40% and 35% respectively. My hope is that when the turnout numbers are finalized by the state they will publish it by legislative district, in addition to county, since they already estimate voters before the election.

In spite of these gains, what is going to take time is restoring the public faith in our state government. Clean Elections voters polled didn't have significantly more faith in government to do the right thing compared to those outside the clean elections District:
Compared to statewide voters, voters in the Clean Elections districts were just as likely to say they:
• trust the legislature only some or none of the time to do what is right;
• are concerned that campaign money influences legislators after the election;
• are not confident that public financing of campaigns will reduce the influence of large donors in the political process.
Faith in elected officials is earned, not given, and it is incumbent upon our elected leaders to do better. It's a strong statement when only 17% of voters statewide trust the legislature to do the right thing most of the time. Often, as done in the Bergen Freeholder debate by the BCDO candidates, officials protest that they are not crooks and should not be thought of as such. However, if 83% of the public thinks that way; something either within the process or through the actions of those protesting has triggered that opinion.

If the Clean Elections Program, over time, can help restore the public faith in our elected officials it's a good thing. Ultimately, it will be the responsibility of the officials to seal the public confidence deal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Abate's Fundraiser

To those who marked their calendars for Wednesday, I'm very sorry, the fundraiser for Democratic hopeful Camille Abate was actually last night. I goofed. Abate's campaign wrote about it on her blog, complete with pictures.

Just asking...

What kind of Impala can you buy for $187,789.50?

After reading Juan Melli's post on Asset Monetization over on Blue Jersey, I decided to download the 2006 Annual Report for the Turnpike Authority. I took State Senate President Richard Codey's "say yes or come up with a better idea" sentiment to heart, so I figured I'd take a look.

No solutions on my end at this point; but on page 60 there is a line-item contract for a $187,789.50 2006 Chevrolet Impala. A bullet proof BMW 745Li doesn't go for that much. One has to wonder what we got for our money. At 88 MPH can we go back in time and fix the budget crisis before it begins?

Medicare Part D Enrollment

Seniors are in the open enrollment window for Medicare Part D, and the Garrett Gazette reminds constituents of what is going on:

November 15th marked the beginning of open enrollment for the new Medicare prescription drug program, Medicare Part D. This is your opportunity to review your current coverage and determine if you’d like to change plans. Open Enrollment season runs through December 31st, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends that you enroll by December 7th if you expect to change your coverage to ensure that there is no break in your prescription services in the new year.

There are a number of resources available to help you navigate this process. The New Jersey SHIP network (State Health Insurance Program) at the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services can be found online at

They can be reached at 1-800-792-8820 (toll free for in-state calls only) or at 1-877-222-3737. You can also go online to or call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance. CMS has added a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder and Formulary Finder to help you narrow down the wide array of choices to fit your personal needs. CMS also has several publications to help you make the most of your benefits and assess your plan for cost, coverage, and customer service:

Rx Enrollment Check-Up (
Guide to Rx Drug Coverage (
Medicare & You 2008(

This is the only opportunity you will have to change your plan until November 15, 2008. Of course, you can always contact me and my staff for assistance as well. We will help put you in touch with the right people or materials so you can make an informed decision. My Paramus office can be reached at 201-712-0330 and my Newton office can be reached at 973-300-2000.

Randall vs. Garrett?

According to Sussex Steve over at, Ho-Ho-Kus Mayor Thomas Randall is considering a challenge to Representative Scott Garrett next year. Randall appears to be a moderate, having endorsed the team of Kathe Donovan against the Guy Talarico/Todd Caliguire ticket.

I've said before that the best thing for the BCRO to do would be to get rid of Talarico & Garrett. A strong Republican candidate with name recognition and views in line with the District, coupled with a growing understanding of how awful a representative Garrett is, could make this a great campaign.

More to come...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Could Garrett Get Karcher-ed?

Here's a thought I had while looking at the Record's list of cut your own Christmas Tree farms: Could Representative Scott Garrett be subjected to the same sort of attack that helped bring down State Senator Ellen Karcher? Part of what undid Karcher was a tax break she receives for having her property designated as a Christmas Tree farm, contrasted to her votes raising taxes.

While Garrett has never declared income from the farm on his House Financial Disclosure forms (over $200 from any source must be declared), both Garrett's supporters and detractors seem to be of the impression he sells the $500 worth of Christmas trees a year in order to get the property tax break. Garrett doesn't seem like the type to risk an $11,000 civil fine for each report falsified, plus fines from the House itself, so I don't think folks should jump to conclusions about the status of Garrett's property taxes. Plus, people have to decide if this is the sort of thing we want in campaigns.

Regardless of whether or not he gets a break, Garrett's voting record and philosophy do in fact lead to higher property taxes. For instance, Garrett has been on record since at least 2002 as saying he felt that the Department of Education should be eliminated. While it varies on a town by town basis, 8.9% of education funding comes from the Federal government. So, in essence, Garrett's been committed to raising property taxes an average of 8.9% since 2002.

That last bit may be a bit of a stretch for folks, but people need to consider when Garrett talks about eliminating Departments and programs like Head Start; states, counties, and towns will be left to fund them on their own or end them. When Garrett opposes SCHIP funding, leaving the state to cover those children already covered, the money has to come from somewhere. In our state, that means property, income, and sales taxes.

It's something to think about.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

News and Stuff

Having a few minutes, I thought I'd post a few things.

- Representative Scott Garrett is taking some heat for cutting funds to Naturally Occurring Retirement Community programs. Specifically, $170,000 was intended for the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. Garrett wrote the Jewish Standard with his reasoning:
"Unfortunately, this bill was about politics, not people," Garrett said in an e-mail to this paper on Friday. "The new majority knew it would be vetoed and that the veto would be sustained because this bill would have busted the federal budget and exceeded executive branch budget requests by over $8 billion."
This is the same SCHIP line Garrett used in backing the President's veto over SCHIP. Obviously, once again, Garrett's pledge to the President has trumped those of us living in the District.

- The Asbury Park Press points out that Garrett's self professed love for the 10th Amendment (powers not delegated to the federal government go to the states) is hollow. Garrett is the only Representative from New Jersey to vote against formalizing New Jersey's power to ensure rail waste transfer sites are not polluting our neighborhoods and water supply. This measure was attached to the Federal Railroad Safety Administration bill, which I noted Garrett was one of only 38 Representatives to vote against it.

- Fred Snowflack got an answer from Garrett as to why he was one of only 36 Representatives to vote against improving the Head Start program. Garrett said he was opposed to the bill's cost and "such minutiae as the level of required training for teachers, details of background checks for bus drivers, and hiring policies for providers." As Fred noted, "Since when is training teachers and background checks for drivers a bad thing?"

- Herb Jackson pointed out that Camille Abate is having a fundraiser hosted by Mark Denbeaux, an attorney fighting for the rights of those at Gitmo. The event is this Wednesday, and you can find details here.

- Dennis Shulman, who is challenging Abate for the Democratic nomination, got some love from Matt Stoller over at Open Left. His piece about the GOP predicting they will get thrashed next year includes this little snippet:
...Democrats are spreading the playing field thin, and are forcing the Republicans to use what resources they have defending incumbents like Scott Garrett against potentially strong candidates like Dennis Shulman in district Bush easily took in 2004.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

So Much To Be Thankful For...

I hope somewhere between the cooking; the family; the football; the assault of tryptophan on your ability to stay awake; seconds, thirds and fourths; and whatever makes your Thanksgiving special that you actually take a moment to reflect on all the things to be thankful for.

It's also important to realize that so many of us have the ability to make a difference in someone's life during this time of year. While doing your last minute shopping, pick up an extra can of something (or a lot of things), and then find out how the items can be dropped off at a food bank near you. Here's a link to our State's local food banks. There's a lot of meals between now and Christmas, and there are people in each of our communities who could use a little help.

To my readers, thanks for coming back time and again. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. We'll see you next week.

Republican Primary Wars

With the announcement by Representative Mike Ferguson that he'd be retiring, NJ's political class (PolitickerNJ, Blue Jersey, Red Jersey, Conservatives With Attitude) has started full tilt speculation as to who is going to run.

This is likely to be a heck of a fight between the Conservatives and moderate Republicans. AJ Sparxx over on CWA-NJ has already started beating the Conservative drum:
Now is the time to find a Conservative to win this seat and take it away from a moderate like Ferguson, keep it out of the hands from a moderate like Kean, Jr. and most importantly, keeping the Democrats from picking it off.
One group that is likely licking their chops is the Club For Growth. Back in September, they were already very pleased with their prospects for next year. The question is, outside of our District where they spend and raise a ton of money backing Representative Scott Garrett, how successful can they be in New Jersey?

Robert Novack pointed out that The Club was "founded to support conservatives and punish liberals in Republican primaries." They claim 40,000 members, and their bundling ability is rivaled by very few. Even though it seems they've only given Garrett $16,192 in donations, it's nearly impossible to guess how much of the $4.6 million he's raised over the years have come from Club members. I'm sure they let him know, which likely is why he switched his vote on Greenwood Lake funding once they came out against it.

The Club cost Republicans the Senate with their attacks on former Senator Lincoln Chaffee, and they are already targeting several Republicans. As with Rhode Island, we're a relatively blue state with several purple Districts, so it would be interesting to see how their tactics play here. Here's their list of priorities:
Club for Growth Policy Goals:
    • Making the Bush tax cuts permanent
    • Death tax repeal
    • Cutting and limiting government spending
    • Social Security reform with personal retirement accounts
    • Expanding free trade
    • Legal reform to end abusive lawsuits
    • Replacing the current tax code
    • School choice
    • Regulatory reform and deregulation
Notice balancing the budget, paying down the deficit, fixing the AMT and creating jobs are not on the list. As I pointed out earlier, the Bush policies Garrett pledged to back have caused the deficit to grow and the dollar to sink. I suppose it could be called the "Club for Foreign Wealth and Power Growth."

The point is, Republicans (and Democrats for that matter) in the 7th, 3rd, and here in our Fifth need to fight to have a Representative who isn't a slave to the special interests. While the Club's 40,000 members can raise a lot of money and they'll spend a lot on ads calling people names, a Representative in NJ has about 700,000 constituents.

Garrett's a lost cause on this front, but in the interest of a better government and economy, my hope is that the Reps and Dems running in those Districts will put the special interests aside. Voters there should demand it. An open seat is the ultimate chance to change politics as usual. We'll have to see what primary voters make of the opportunity.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Garrett's SCHIP Mailer Numbers

Well it took some time to track down the numbers related to Representative Scott Garrett's mailer on the State Children's Health Insurance Program. I still haven't found all of them, but here's a few.

Since Garrett's folks are attacking the SCHIP program as a whole by attacking our program, I figured I'd check out what the official story is and pulled up the Annual Report for NJ's SCHIP program. . Unless otherwise linked, that will be the source for my figures. Unless otherwise linked, that will be the source for my figures.

First up:
43% of NJ's SCHIP grants are used to insure adults

In Fiscal Year 2008, NJ expects to spend 55% of its SCHIP funds on adults
Well, that's not what the Annual Report says. The Budget for regular SCHIP and expanded children's coverage is $448.7 million, with the 1115 Waiver program covering parents adding $206.2 million, for a grand total of $655 million. The portion covering adults this year is 31.4%, next year it's 30.7%.

Next up:
NJ has only a 69% SCHIP participation rate for families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty line.
Well, that number apparently includes an estimated 412,466 children Medicaid, and those with private insurance. There were 594,000 children living below 200% poverty last year, with 25% of them uninsured.
119,000 NJ children living under 200% of the federal poverty level remain uninsured though they qualify for the current SCHIP.
I'm not sure where this number comes from, however if it's accurate, considering the Annual Report cited a three year average of 125,000 eligible uninsured children from 2003-05, that means 6,000 more kids have been covered by either SCHIP, Medicaid, or private insurance. It also means that since the program started we've had a 28% drop in uninsured children below 200% poverty.

There's more to come...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Garrett's Pledge to the President

As I noted yesterday, Representative Scott Garrett has signed a pledge to the President supporting his decisions on Appropriations bills. It's unfortunate that someone who professes strong conviction and understanding of the Constitution would be so willing to abdicate his responsibility not only to us as constituents but to the Founding Father's intent.

Here's a few facts that make the decision more disturbing to anyone with a minor interest in fiscal responsibility or economic growth:

Budget Surplus/Deficit (without borrowing against Social Security):
2000: $1,629,000,000.00
2006: -$537,271,000,000.00
(That's a 33,082% increase)

Total Deficit:
January 2001: -$5,728,195,796,181.57
Today: -$9,113,206,502,561.64
(That's a 59% increase)

US Dollar vs. the Canadian Dollar:
November 2001: $1 =$1.54
11/16/07: $1 = $1.02
(That's a 33% drop in value)

Consumer Prices vs. Median Income:
Consumer Price Increase Oct. 2000-2006: 13.60%**
Median Income Increase 2000-2006:13.67%
(Feeling you're not getting ahead?)

Unemployed People:**
Oct. 2000: 5,153,000
Oct. 2007: 6,773,000
(That's a 31.4% increase)

People Working Two Jobs:**
Jan. 2001: 7,134,000
Oct. 2007: 7,852,000
(That's a 10% increase)

Labor Force vs. Employed Oct. 2000- Oct. 2007:**
Increase in Labor Force: 7.5%
Increase in Employed: 6.5%

With a track record like this, signing on to blindly follow the President's lead significantly cuts into the image of Garrett as an independent kind of guy, fiscal conservative, or pro-growth. As I've mentioned earlier, regarding the SBA, often times the things the President and Garrett seek to cut are the very things that provide a return on investment for the taxpayer and reduce expenditures for things like unemployment and medicaid by creating jobs. There's more to be written about this, however this can get folks started.

**It was brought to my attention that the links don't work. The source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their site was off line the few times I checked today, will post numbers tomorrow (11/18/07).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Garrett Against $14.7 Million for Bergen

Here's an interesting fact:

With Representative Scott Garrett voting against the Appropriations for Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development; Garrett could cost Bergen County $14.7 million dollars in Community Development Block Grants. That works out to roughly 3.4% of the County budget.

It's unlikely, when the dust settles, that we'll lose the entire amount, but what's that going to do to property taxes? What about the transportation funds Garrett voted against? How much of the budget are we talking about? If only the Bergen County Freeholders had the decency to put the County Budget on-line I could answer that question.

As the appropriations battle goes forward, none of us should be surprised by Garrett's string of Nay votes. Garrett was the only Republican from New Jersey who signed a pledge to the President to oppose any Appropriations bill the President vetoes. In effect, Garrett has firmly placed the President's philosophy above the interests of our traditionally fiscally conservative District.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Garrett vs. Head Start, Again

Once again, in a 12-Garrett vote, our Representative Scott Garrett has voted against a program aimed at helping children. Garrett joined 35 other Representatives in opposing the Improving Head Start Act. Garrett voted against the House version of the Bill back in May, this vote was on the version which will be sent to the President.

The only thing Garrett did during the debate on the House version was demand a recorded vote on two amendments. If he did anything of substance I'll post it here.

Garrett, The Rabbi, & Polish Jews

Our Representative Scott Garrett seems to be surrounded by Judaism today.

In kind of an odd coincidence, about five minutes after Rabbi Dennis Shulman announced his candidacy formally, Garrett was one of 13 Representatives to vote against Rep. Chris Smith's bill providing assistance for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.


Obviously, Representative Scott Garrett realizes his opposition to the State Children's Health Insurance Program isn't popular. After having his Op-Ed against the program apparently rejected by the Record, Garrett's staff decided to send out a taxpayer funded two page mailer on SCHIP.

It's a piece so chock full of "new stats" and new sources it's going to take a day or so to fact check the piece. However, since Garrett's been inventing coverage and income numbers from the beginning, it's likely most of these new numbers will prove equally false. I just wish, instead spinning and lying, Garrett would just level people. Like most things, and I think I'm being fair in stating this, Garrett doesn't believe government should play any role in health care.

The most recent tell on that is on the second page of the mailer, which deals with small business access to health care. Here's what he/his staff, put in the mailer:
Congress and state legislatures continue to add coverage mandates year after year, which make insurance more expensive - in some markets by up to 45%
Here's the most current list I could find of the mandated coverage in New Jersey. There are 31 types of care on the list and I'd love to know which of these Garrett feels need to be cut. By his statement, it would seem all. Here are few on the list, which could easily find their way into a campaign commercial next year:

5. Childhood Immunizations, Lead and Hearing Screening
10. Diabetes
11. Domestic Violence Injuries
15. Mammograms
16. Maternity Without Regard to Marital Status
17. Minimum Maternity Stay
20. Nursing Home Care
23. Pap Smears
27. Prostate Cancer Screening
29. Second Medical/Surgical Opinions
30. Wellness Examinations
It's not to say the rest of the list isn't important, but some how these will touch a nerve. Garrett opposes this care being mandated for coverage. One has to wonder if voters would be concerned that if Garrett had his way what little coverage they have left will be taken away.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

I don't know how many other people had to work today, I know I did, but we as a nation must get back to the intention of Veteran's Day. To take a pause as a nation and really observe.
October 8, 1954
Dear Mr. Higley:

I have today signed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. With the thought that it will be most helpful to coordinate the planning, I am suggesting the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee. In view of your great personal interest as well as your official responsibilities, I have designated you to serve as Chairman. You may include in the Committee membership such other persons as you desire to select and I am requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch to assist the Committee in its work in every way possible.

I have every confidence that our Nation will respond wholeheartedly in the appropriate observance of Veterans Day, 1954.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Garrett Votes for $1.5 Trillion Tax Increase

For the second time this week, Representative Scott Garrett voted against the people of our District. Today, the House voted against a temporary fix to the AMT to prevent it from creeping further into the middle class of our Fifth District and other parts of the country.

At issue, and why the bill was approved largely along partisan lines, is the provision changing the way 50,000 or so hedge fund managers are taxed. Currently, they pay at the 15% capital tax rate and avoid the AMT. Herb Jackson has the audio of Garrett's statement here, as well as Representative Bill Pascrell smacking his logic around.

As Garrett himself cited, 120,000 taxpayers in our District alone will be subject to the AMT without the patch Garrett just voted against. Here's how the Record broke down the impact not having a patch would have in our District:
If Congress takes no action this year, the alternative minimum tax would hit an additional 21 million taxpayers, including 1.5 million in New Jersey, with higher income tax rates. Here's what that would mean to a family in Ridgewood:

• Married couple, two children, filing jointly with $150,000 in income, $14,000 in property and state income taxes, $20,000 in mortgage interest and $500 in charitable contributions.
• 2006 federal tax bill: $18,690
• 2007 federal tax bill: $21,970
• Difference: $3,280 more

So even if every hedge fund manager in America lived in our Fifth District, which they don't, Garrett would put a $3,280 tax burden on 120,000 taxpayers to protect them? To be fair to Garrett, he has proposed a bill to completely eliminate the AMT. However, Garrett's bill has no chance of getting out of committee because it would cause the national debt to mushroom. This is another example of Garrett's lack of fiscal responsibility.

Playing the semantics game Garrett likes to play, by opposing the tax relief Garrett is in essence supporting a $1.5 trillion tax increase over the next ten years. We can add this to the list of assaults on the family budget by Garrett this year. How many families will see Garrett's lack of support for their family wallet as an issue next year should be an interesting story to follow, if not directly participate in.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Election Reflection

Most of the elections in our District played out exactly as they were expected to. Voter turnout was in the 30s; Steve Oroho, Kevin O'Toole, and most incumbents cruised to victory; the Republicans won the Legislative races; and the Democrats won Bergen County.

The only eyebrow raiser, if you will, was Sen. Gerry Cardinale's margin of victory going from 12,000 in 2003 to 5,000 yesterday. While the guys over at CWA-NJ count the victory as award worthy, in this "obscure" blogger's opinion, in a Republican year that sort of drop should raise an eyebrow.

I stand by my belief the direction Cardinale took was the wrong path during the campaign. This race was never close. Cardinale has served long enough to make enough friends, and do enough good things for constituents on a personal level that most people I know were planning on voting for him regardless of party. However, taking the route he took, many walked away.

Compare Cardinale's campaign's actions with those taken by Steve Oroho, which I highlighted earlier. At the end of his second debate with Ed Selby, Oroho said the following:
"You've heard some very clear differences between my opponent and myself. It doesn't mean Ed's a bad guy. It doesn't mean I'm a bad guy. It just means we're different," Oroho said. "We should all be happy we live in a country where it's OK to be different."
My hope is going forward more politicians embrace this kind of civility and decency. I realize it may not be flashy, but we're at a point in our State where we don't need flashy. Our state is in serious trouble on a number of fronts, and as shown by voting down the stem cell and sales tax initiatives, the people of our state know it.

It's important to note that we're not in these crises as Democrat, Republican or Unaffiliated: we're in this as Jerseyians. While differences of opinion exist as to how to fix the problem, it's unlikely we'll get anywhere if our politicians do not rise to the challenge in a decent and honorable way.

Garrett Votes Against Greenwood Lake

As the only NJ member of the House to vote to uphold the President's veto of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, Representative Scott Garrett turned against funding he had promised for Greenwood Lake back in August. Here's how Garrett described the $250,000 he just voted against:
"The growth of aquatic weeds has reached a critical state, putting the lake at risk, and with it, the creatures that inhabit it and the businesses that rely on it as a regional tourist attraction,"

Garrett actually voted for the Bill the first time through. If Garrett said anything as to why he caved to Presidential pressure instead of stand by his original vote for our District I'll post it.

Congratulations to All the Winners

It was one of the uglier campaign seasons in recent memory, and some hard fought battles were won. My hope is, going forward, those of you with the calling of public service will also hear the call of the electorate asking for substance. I'll write more tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why Garrett's Not Inclined to Debate Pt. 2

Representative Scott Garrett has continued living the lie against the State Children's Health Insurance Program, this was said yesterday:
Well, we know that the poverty level is, for a family of four is around $42,000. I'm not sure if that's showing that on that chart, for a family of four is around $42,000. We also know that the median or the middle range of income in this country, again for a family of four in this country, is around $48,000.

I've already covered that these numbers are not true. However, since Garrett's insisting on doing this, let's try another angle. This is what the novice debater would say should Garrett be making this point and attempting to stick to it:
So, Scott, what you're saying is that the economic policies you've supported over the last 4 years have left nearly half the families of this country near poverty. Because either your numbers are wrong or we're in much worse shape than any of us realized.

We know Garrett's numbers are wrong, and we know he's been misrepresenting the numbers since August. However, this is how you cook somebody in their own lies. Somebody tell Garrett to stop using the numbers, please, he has to stop embarrassing our District and himself.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Shooting Yourself in The Foot 101

In what can only be described as a campaign tactic taken by skimming Karl Rove's Cliff Notes, the campaign of State Senator Gerry Cardinale went the bizarre direction of attacking rival Joe Ariyan as a terrorist sympathizer. As covered by Blue Jersey, Red Jersey, and PoliticsNJ the move has widely been panned as ridiculous.

How Cardinale, his college freshman campaign manager Matt Mowers, or anybody else involved could think this is a good route to go is truly a mystery. If Cardinale does survive this, his reputation will forever be tarnished. He didn't need to do this, but for whatever reason decided to.

This aspect of politics is something I just can't support. Former Republican Congressional candidate George Ajjan is advocating people write in Bob Schroeder. I don't know about that, but I'm no fan of any Papa Joe crony. Tomorrow may be the second time I vote for myself, and anybody who wants to can feel free to join me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

We Can't Do Better Than This?

This from
Most political observers are estimating turnout in next week's legislative elections to fall somewhere between 25-30 percent, at best.
There is something seriously wrong when the election that has the most impact directly on people's lives is the one that people skip.

I actually have skipped an off-year, but that was kind of my bottoming out point with political involvement. However, very few people I talked to over the weekend are planning on voting on Tuesday: They don't know the candidates; they don't have the time; they're not registered.

I realize that the folks who read this blog are likely to vote, but we as the involved have to do more to involve those who are not. Government works best when people are involved in the process. When voters are the ones holding the officials accountable at the polls, they respond to the voters instead of the special interests. When voters are the ones holding officials accountable the policy more closely reflects the will of the people.

My hope is, in talking to folks, a few of them may turn out. However, this little blog and me handing out some fliers tomorrow isn't going to have the kind of impact we collectively need. We as the active community need to do a better job of engaging the non-active. Not for partisan gain, not for political power, but simply for the strength of the process.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Garrett's $25,000 Lie

This was already pointed out to be a false statement by Representative Scott Garrett about SCHIP:
The medium income, that's the middle income in this country, for a family of four all across this country on average is about $48,000. So, $48,000 is the middle range.
It's actually a $25,000 lie, as the national median income for a family of four is $73,415. So in all the states other than New Jersey, a qualifying family of four is $11,000 below the median.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Garrett's SCHIP Numbers

In the latest edition of the Official What Squad, Representative Scott Garrett shed the usual lies and focused on income levels as a way to justify his stance against the State Children's Health Insurance Program. A look at the numbers catches Garrett once again showing a willingness to distort the truth. Fortunately, there's this pesky thing called the Census Bureau that helps discredit yet another of Garrett's arguments.

Here's what Garrett said:
Right now the SCHIP program, as originally intended, was to fund indigent care for children, at what level? Two hundred percent of poverty. Ballpark figure, that's around $42,000 for a family of four; that's what is defined as poverty for that family. The medium income, that's the middle income in this country, for a family of four all across this country on average is about $48,000. So, $48,000 is the middle range.

While Garrett's $42,000 ballpark for 200% is accurate, where the misrepresentation begins is with the family of four median income. As reported by the Census Bureau, the median income for ALL households is $48,451, not a family of four. While intentionally misstating the middle is a lie in and of itself, this is a very important distinction as Garrett's argument progresses.
So, when they're talking about providing services above 200, 250, 300, well, 300 percent of poverty, that would put you at approximately $62,000 for a family of four. In New Jersey, we're at 350 percent of poverty; that puts you around $72,000 for a family of four.

Once again, these estimated figures are also accurate, but here's where one lie builds into the other:
So, by definition, they're telling us that they are not trying to create a program for the indigent and the poor in this country. By the very definition of the words they're using and the facts that are out there, they are trying to create an entitlement program for the middle class.

Using Census Bureau figures, 74% of states have a median income for a family of four above $62,000. In our own New Jersey, where SCHIP does get up to about $72,000, the median income for a four person family is $94,441. So the truth is, a family of four qualifying for the program is making $22,000 less than the midpoint. Actually, in the 37 states with median incomes above $62,000, qualifying families of four would be below the state's median by over $10,000 in 17 of them (In Connecticut they're $30,000 under).

In fact, there are only seven states where the median income for a family of four is below $60,000, and not one is at the $48,000 level Garrett cited as the middle. The closest to the $48,451 composite national median is New Mexico, and their family of four median is roughly $3,600 above Garrett's distortion. He's not even close to being truthful on this.

Garrett has used fear, Garrett has distorted his own record, and now Garrett has tried to use numbers to argue against SCHIP. To date, Garrett and his fellow obstructionists have no argument against SCHIP that stands up to the slightest bit of truth.