Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shulman Lands in Warren

In a sign the campaign of Dennis Shulman is serious, The Express-Times had a piece yesterday about his visit to the Warren County Fair. Dems haven't really worked hard in Warren the last few elections, as exemplified by Paul Aronsohn skipping the county entirely on his "Walk across the District."

This slacking by the Dems has allowed Garrett to slack as well. In 2006, at many of the large events I showed up at in Warren, I was the only one on the ballot who showed. Even when I sent surrogates, they were often the only ones there.

So it's equally telling that, according to the piece, Garrett is spending time in Warren.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Help Wanted: NJ Ethics Panel

PolitickerNJ has an interesting story about the problems our legislative leaders are having a problem filling the newly created ethics panel. Here's how they described part of the problem:
Wright said that DeCroce has not been slacking on the appointments but wants to make sure he puts the right people in the job, given the new committee’s more stringent ethical standards. Several ex-judges they’ve considered, Wright said, refused an appointment because would have had to cut ties with law firms that have business with the state.

It just seems to me they can't be trying very hard. There have to be retired police officers who would consider this. Or maybe those like my father. Not just because he's a minister, but he's been certified in various ethics and conflict resolution disciplines. There are entire programs dedicated to the ethics part, and we have several seminaries in the state.

Then you have the idealistic civic minded individuals like myself who want nothing more than a clean government. Granted, I'd probably have to give up the blog, but for that I'd do it. I'm sure there'd be no shortage of volunteers who want clean government who would put aside whatever it is they're doing to serve.

The idea that these guys can't fill this committee is garbage.
You could probably walk into an elementary school and find enough students with a proper sense of right and wrong to be on the panel.

The problem is that they don't want to be held accountable for their actions. If we're going to turn this State around, we need to have a strong watchdog. The idea we as voters, taxpayers and residents have to wait until the US Attorney steps in is ridiculous.

Only in NJ, I suppose.

Garrett Talking Covered Bonds on Fox Business

Representative Scott Garrett will be on Fox Business at 5:15 tonight. He'll be talking about the introduction of covered bonds into the US financial markets.

Never heard of covered bonds? Reuters does a nice job of explaining what they are:
Covered bonds are securities issued by banks and backed by mortgage or public-sector loans.

Unlike the loans behind existing mortgage- and asset-backed securities, covered bond loans remain on the balance sheet of the bank issuing the bond, making the bonds obligations of the bank. The issuer keeps control of the assets and can change the make-up of the loan pool as well as alter the terms of the loans.

Covered bonds offer long-term funding to borrowers for long-term and relatively low-credit risk investments, such as acquisition or construction of residential, commercial or agricultural property, public investment and ships.

These things have been around since 1770 in Europe. Forbes also points out that in addition to helping the mortgage market covered bonds could help with infrastructure projects. This could be a big deal if done right.

Knoxville, Townhall & Garrett

I'm not sure if anybody else felt awful reading the motives behind the shooter at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Whatever illness the man is suffering from, he says he targeted the church because they were liberal, particularly their views on women and gays.

Back in June of last year, I pointed out that Representative Scott Garrett was posting over at Townhall.com. At around the same time he began posting, Townhall was playing host to a twenty one part fantasy about killing liberals and RINOs. Despite Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives calling for it to be removed, I checked and it's still there as of this writing.

It never sat well with me after Columbine that people targeted various performers as being to blame for the tragedy; and I'm in no way placing any blame on Garrett or Townhall.

What I am saying is that the fantasy on should be taken down.

Townhall isn't some little obscure corner of the Internet; it's one of the largest conservative sites out there. With that comes a certain amount of social responsibility. Profiting by playing host to a series advocating the death of politicians, judges, TV personalities, and individuals of various political beliefs falls into the category of abdication of that social responsibility.

Even though Garrett hasn't posted on Townhall since May, his contributions have helped Townhall sell advertising dollars. One would think that Garrett could have some sway to get the fantasy taken down.

We're a better nation than this, and one sick individual doesn't change that. At the same time, we have to expect those making and shaping public policy not to legitimize this sort of illness by providing it a forum.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Garrett on the Housing Fight

In this week's Garrett Gazette, Representative Scott Garrett talks about the fight over the Housing Bill. Since I was pretty harsh earlier, I figure in the interest of fairness I'd post his thoughts on the matter:
The Housing Bill passed by the House and the Senate last week exposes the American taxpayer to a huge amount of financial risk. While I am a strong advocate of GSE reform for Fannie and Freddie, this bill as written could add 5 trillion dollars to the national debt in the blink of an eye, by using the taxpayer dollars to underwrite the debts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Ever since I came to Congress in 2003, I have been a vocal critic of the implied backing that the federal government grants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I introduced my own GSE reform bill as an alternative to this Housing bill that contains extraneous components that are simply a misuse of taxpayer
dollars.

Maybe you happened to read some of the articles that talked about the fight my colleagues and I waged against this egregious Housing bill. I’ve included a few media clips below for you to review. I will continue to speak out against legislation that jeopardizes the family budget. Please be assured that I will persist in my advocacy against wasteful spending.

Speaking out and getting results are two different things, but that's what I talked about earlier.

If you are interested in seeing the clips, you can click over to his website for the links.

The Garrett that Cried Debt

In his column on Sunday, Herb Jackson made an interesting point about Representative Scott Garrett:
IF A HOUSING BILL to prop up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ends up being a massive drain on the public treasury, then Rep. Scott Garrett has every right to say, "I told you so."

Garrett's concern that the bail out bill could put taxpayers on the hook is well founded. Some will point to the fact the CBO said we have a better than 50% chance of not owing anything. The companies even have said they don't need the money. But Garrett is still on to something.

The problem is the GSEs are publicly traded and have shareholders. If taking advantage of the taxpayers increases the value of those shares, the GSEs are obligated to take advantage of us. The prospect of owing more money when the Administration has already had to revise the projected deficit next year to an eye popping $482 billion is nothing to be taken lightly.

The problem is, "I told you so" won't help the situation. What we needed was a Representative whose opinion carried enough weight for people to think about this stuff objectively. Unfortunately for us as a District, and potentially America as a whole, we don't have that type of Representative.

There's a pretty good track record of how this happened. Garrett's misleading and patently false assertions on issues like SCHIP and PEPFAR; Garrett's rigid partisanship; as well as ostracizing moderate Republicans on Capitol Hill seems to be coming back to haunt him.

Garrett hasn't released much in the way of misleading information since his new press secretary took over, and I see that as a very good thing (the energy thing is a carry over). Now we have to hope Garrett will realize the cost of what he had been doing.

When we needed him to deliver most, he was at his least effective.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Star Ledger Highlights 5th District

Jim Lockwood of the Star Ledger did a nice write-up on the race between Representative Scott Garrett and Dennis Shulman. You can read it here.

Chuck Todd On Fifth District Race

I was alerted to this by one of my readers (thanks Andrew). Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, was over on Newsvine leading a Q&A and two Fifth District residents joined in.

Here are Todd's thoughts, and the comments that prompted the responses, on the race between Representative Scott Garrett and Dennis Shulman.

hpeterson: My district, NJ 5th, is finally on the radar!

Todd: Well, NJ 05 may be on the radar, but it's still a ways away from being in the target zone... I've heard about NJ 05 targeting for years and it never comes to pass but this appears to be another wave election and weird things happen in wave elections...

hpeterson: Hey now! I have dreams of a liberal, blind, psychologist, rabbi as my next congressman...please don't end that dream before Labor Day!! (No kidding, that is our candidate!) Scott Garrett is very conservative for NJ... but you're right I have gotten my hopes up before...but you never know!

[snip]

Andrew: Yeah, Todd, if you could give us a little side tangent: who do you think will win, the ultraconservative Garrett or the blind rabbi who has the story but nothing else?

Todd: Incumbent NJ Congressman rarely lose without a scandalous reason. It's just too hard and expensive for challengers to get known. While Garrett may be too conservative for the district, I'm not sure the voters are angry enough at him to toss him out.

If Todd's looking for a spot to follow the race, might I recommend (ehem) Blog the Fifth.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

PEPFAR to President

President Bush took today's radio address to talk about passage of PEPFAR this week:
I thank members of Congress from both sides of the aisle for working with my administration to pass this important bill, and I will be honored to sign it into law next week," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

The program is dedicated to fighting AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria around the globe, helping more than 33 million people to date since Bush expanded it the first time.

Back in February, Representative Scott Garrett had this to say about the bill expanding the program to $48 billion:
I hope the Democrats are happy with themselves, because this is just down-right disgusting.

Notice, Garrett only blames Democrats for what the President said was a bi-partisan effort? Granted, his piece was written back in February, but Republicans were working on it then as well.

Garrett's opposition was grounded in opposition to the mythical availability of abortions through the program; as well as his opposition to the very real need to include the availability of condoms as another tool to stem the spread of AIDS. The current version of the bill also requires reports to Congress if spending on abstinence and fidelity education fall beyond certain levels.

I said then this would become a campaign issue, and those running Dennis Shulman's new blog didn't miss Garrett's vote against the program:
However, when it comes to worthwhile Bush Administration initiatives to combat fatal diseases in Third-World countries, he takes a heartless and short-sighted approach.

I'm not sure Shulman's intern even knew the extent of Garrett's opposition.

I've got to believe there will be a 527 somewhere that comes out with something targeting the 115 members of the House that don't understand the practical, moral, and soft power implications of this program on the future. Who knows, maybe the Shulman campaign can get Bono or Matt Damon to do an ad explaining why Garrett's stand is as horrendous as it is.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Garrett and Alternative Energy

Newsday ran a story today about how off-shore drilling is becoming an issue in NJ this year. The campaign thoughts from both the campaigns of Dennis Shulman and Representative Scott Garrett were shared:
Garrett campaign manager Amanda Gasperino declined to comment on the congressman's recent vote, but said he supports "deep-sea exploration" along with other sources such as solar, wind and biofuel to meet the nation's energy needs.

Garrett's Democratic challenger, Dennis Shulman, wants scientists to assess where drilling would be most useful, said his campaign manager, Jeff Hauser. However, "We don't want someone drilling right off the New Jersey shore and harming our beaches," Hauser said.

Shulman's website gives a firmer answer than let the scientists decide. On the flip side, Gasperino's statement on Garrett's stand is missing a huge chunk of reality.

Garrett holds the distinction of being the only Representative from New Jersey to oppose every effort to expand tax credits and funding for alternative energy for the last two years.

Garrett's been getting a free pass from the media on this point, as he refers to alternatives, conservation, and increased supply as a three legged stool to deal with gas prices. It sounds great, and it really is how we're going to get to a better place.

The massive problem is that Garrett hasn't put his votes where his mouth is. Not even close. The traditional media hasn't been doing their job of pointing that out. He did back some provisions when Republicans were in control, but his partisanship seems to be getting in the way of his "dedication" to alternatives.

Our energy crisis isn't a partisan issue, and Garrett's campaign is being disingenuous by painting him as being anything but partisan when it comes to his "support" of solutions.

NORPAC/HUVPAC backing Garrett?

It seems that in order to drain it's bank account to facilitate it's merger with NORPAC (one of the more powerful pro-Israel lobby groups out there), the Hudson Valley Political Action Committee (HUVPAC) is going to be throwing an event for Representative Scott Garrett.

From the Jewish Standard:
The group hopes to hold an event for Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) and may hold others for Reps. Elliott Engel (D-N.Y.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

And then, he said, "We hope to be an active part of NORPAC, a thriving, very successful, wonderful PAC…. We are hoping to be known as the HUVPAC division of NORPAC.
I can't imagine that it would be a positive for Rabbi Dennis Shulman to have such an influential group say Garrett would be better for Israel than he would.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shulman Hits Smith Again (Yawn)

Another bad financial report from a bank has drawn another press release from the campaign of Dennis Shulman attacking Representative Scott Garrett and his Chief of Staff Amy Smith.

Anybody else getting bored with this?

The campaign was handed a couple of very positive high profile pieces done about Shulman lately. Curious readers may go to his site to get to know him better, see where he stands, etc. However, when they get to his site they have yet another one of these press releases. It just seems counterproductive.

I guess my biggest issue with this series is the moral relativism between the type of lobbying Ms. Smith did and that of Shulman's campaign manager, Jeff Hauser. Back when they first started down this road, Shulman was quoted by PolitickerNJ saying the following:


"Garrett puts a high paid lobbyist for the most disgraced special interest in the country in charge of his office, paid for by your taxes and mine, and then he has the gall to attack my campaign manager for working with groups such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United Methodist Church?”

Voters are going to see Garrett hired a lobbyist and either care or not. It has very little to do with the type of lobbyist or who was footing the bill. If they care, chances are they hate lobbyists in general.

Should voters follow the logic above, there's no question when looking at the profile for Bartlett & Bendall that many really are at the center of the housing crisis. However, during Ms. Smith's time there, they also dealt with the film industry (to which I'm partial), Lincoln Center and the Human Rights Campaign (equal rights for gays & lesbians).

One of the things in 2006 that Paul Aronsohn was most criticized for was the fact he told the world how horrible Garrett was, but rarely gave voters a reason to vote for him. This was captured in the NJ Herald, where one voter said something to the effect of "We know he's bad, but tell us why you're good." He never framed himself.

It's early yet, but Shulman's camp seems to be falling into the same trap. Granted, they're saying Shulman won't take special interest dollars from groups in front of his committee; but that leaves everything else on the table. It's just not enough of a difference to make people stand up and say "Hell yeah, I'm voting for that guy."

If Shulman is going to win, he needs to get focused on what he wants to do with the job if he gets it. Otherwise, it's another year; another Garrett victory.

Garrett Goes International

Representative Scott Garrett was part of a BBC interview discussing the Housing Bill that passed yesterday. You can listen to the piece, posted on Garrett's website, here.

Garrett vs. Standing Bridges

Well, Representative Scott Garrett certainly does make it easy on those being paid to write the ads that are going to be run against him (no, I'm not one of them).

I'm not actually talking about the Housing bill that Garrett voted against yesterday. Sure, he's going to get beat up on some of the stuff in there. But, if any of us are truly honest, his opposition to yet another bail out bill probably works in his favor.

No, I'm talking about this:


See, that is the fatal I-35 bridge collapse, and Garrett was one of 37 Members of the House to vote against restoring money to the Highway Trust Fund yesterday.

In the event, with everything else going on you forgot in what dire shape our roads are in, you can get a refresher here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Birds of a Feather...

Well, Politicker is reporting that our Representative Scott Garrett is scheduled to attend a "South Carolina-style" fundraiser for Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. Garrett is one of seven Representatives scheduled to attend.

For those that don't know DeMint, he has consistently ranked as the most conservative Senator since being elected.

One of DeMint's more controversial beliefs, stated in his first campaign, is that openly gay individuals and single mothers shouldn't be allowed to teach in public schools.

DeMint has also held up several pieces of legislation, including the aid for Hurricane Katrina victims that Garrett voted against. Also, both DeMint and Garrett voted against the Energy Act of 2007, which increased our efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

That's not to say they're clones. For example, DeMint did not join Garrett in voting against reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.

Project Vote Smart has pages for both Garrett and DeMint where people can compare their voting records by issue and judge for themself.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shulman Gets His Own Press

Although not nearly as widespread as Representative Scott Garrett in the last week, Dennis Shulman got two very high profile profiles in both Time Magazine and The New Yorker. My personal favorite quote came from the New Yorker:
Yet getting attention from the New York media for a corner of New Jersey is difficult. “The people in my district know what Mike Bloomberg eats for breakfast, but they don’t know Garrett’s voting record,” Shulman said.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2,490 Garrett Mentions

When I said he seems to be everywhere, if you Google News search "Scott Garrett", you get 2,490 mentions of our Representative as of this post. Between his oil drilling and stances on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Garrett really is getting himself out there.

Garrett & A Fishy Donation

In a press release today, the Shulman campaign called on Representative Scott Garrett to return the funds he'd received from Countrywide since hiring their former lobbyist, Amy Smith, as his Chief of Staff.

The press release, although not stating this, begged the question whether there was anything about these donations that was unusual. The fact is, according to FEC records, there seems to be:

Countrywide Financial's PAC had never donated to Garrett before March 3, 2008.

The reason this is odd is because of Garrett's committee assignments. You'd expect him to have received donations from Countrywide before now; it's the way Washington usually works. However, there wasn't a dime that went Garrett's way until the Smith hire.

I'm not sure when the official date of hire for Ms. Smith was, but the initial donation was $1,000. Since Herb Jackson announced the hire, they've given an additional $6,500.

Back when the Shulman campaign first raised the issue of Smith, I chose not to write about it. There were two reasons for this: first, I don't like going after staff (nor am I about to); second, it was a moot point as Shulman's campaign manager was also a lobbyist.

However, after seeing this, I decided to bring it up because it points once again to what is so wrong with Washington and our current pay-to-play campaign financing at all levels. It's politics as usual, and it needs to change.

Garrett for VP?

In the second section of his segment on Fox Business this morning, Representative Scott Garrett offered himself for Vice President.



I'm pretty sure he had his tongue firmly in his cheek. But, considering he's significantly raised his name recognition nationally with the entire Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac debacle, you never know...

Update: You can actually watch the first segment here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Garrett's Everywhere

In case you're keeping tabs, it seems Representative Scott Garrett has been on news programs more in the last two weeks than he's been in his entire career.

Tomorrow, the trend will continue with him going on Fox Business between 7-9am to discuss a bill he'll be introducing with regard to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform.

In his little dust up with Barney Frank over on PBS; Garrett said he wanted a clean regulation bill without the Affordable Housing Trust. So, Garrett's introducing one today.

Must Read: Melli on BCDO

Juan Melli, founder of Blue Jersey, announced in no uncertain terms he's arrived at Politicker with a great piece breaking down Joe Ferriero's grip on power in Bergen County.

Here's the juiciest morsel:
It's easiest to understand the starkness of the situation in terms of the raw numbers. While only 0.4 percent of the approximately 900,000 Bergen County residents work for the county government, a preliminary analysis shows that over 40 percent of the Democratic municipal chairs and legislative district leaders in the county hold government jobs. And for many, there is an unambiguous understanding that their job is contingent on Ferriero retaining power.

Good stuff...

Garrett on the Veto Override

Here's Representative Scott Garrett's statement on overriding the President's veto yesterday:

I have consistently supported legislation to prevent cuts to the physician payment schedule, popularly known as the "doc fix." But the legislation that Congress considered this year to temporarily preventthese physician payment cuts, also contained permanent, significant changes to a popular Medicare program. I remain concerned that these changes will adversely affect senior citizens, both in New Jersey and across the country.

For this reason, I voted against the passage ofH.R. 6331. At the time of H.R. 6331's consideration, it was widely reported in the House that a Senate compromise had been reached that did not include the changes to Medicare Advantage. This would have provided a favorable option, yet no such compromise was reached.

H.R. 6331 was passed by veto-proof majorities, and it is clear that this legislationis the only opportunity Congress will have to address the physician payment cut. While I remained concerned about the provisions related toMedicare Advantage in this bill, allowing the 10% physician payment cutto take effect would be disastrous. Because of the consequences ofinaction, I will vote to override the President's veto.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garrett Overrides Bush

Well, who says you don't get a second chance in life to do the right thing?

Whether it was actually realizing Medicare Advantage was bankrupting Medicare; or dealing with the political reality that he'd get hammered by this vote in November, Representative Scott Garrett voted to override the President's veto of the Medicare reform bill.

I've been a constant critic of Garrett's repeated votes against securing Medicare's future. Garrett stood with the President initially, but this time around he was with the people. As a District, we're not on the wrong side of an issue for once.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Garrett Chatting GSEs on PBS

Representative Scott Garrett was on The NewsHour tonight with Representative Barney Frank talking about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issue. You can read the transcript here or download the MP3 podcast here.

As I mentioned he'd be likely and able to do, Garrett established his long opposition to the GSEs:
Well, times certainly have changed, but the systemic problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not changed.

And that's why, ever since I came to Congress five years ago, I said we have created an institution here that basically has no limits, but has the implicit guarantee of the federal government.

And now we see it has come to pass that it has grown beyond any one's imagination when it was first created and has grown without any regulatory oversight and placed enough, sufficient enough to get the job done.

This may be the first time since I've been following Garrett that you've openly seen him call for more government regulation of anything.

In a statement released by Garrett's office, there's a certain jarring juxtaposition of this reality:
Excessive government intervention helped create the problems we now face with GSEs, we need to try something different. We need to immediately pass strong GSE reform legislation and create a world-class regulator that can restore confidence in the financial markets and has the capability to ensure that the American taxpayers are not left paying the check for Fannie and Freddie.

It lets you know how serious the problem is when Garrett, as one of the most anti-regulation members of Congress, is calling for regulation. However, as Rep. Frank points out, Garrett will probably vote against the bill again due to the inclusion of the Affordable Housing Trust fund.

The Money Chase

PolitickerNJ has the figures:

Dennis Shulman:

3rd Quarter - $270,000
Cash On Hand - $258,000

Representative Scott Garrett:

3rd Quarter - $294,000
Cash On Hand - $649,000

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Grow a Sack

One of the things I think people hate most about politics is that, by and large, Congress is so often a lethargic oedipal organization.

If you think of all of the problems we as a nation face (from the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgage issue; to gas prices; to the fact the dollar is so weak Anheuser Busch is no longer an American company) you might believe Congress should be doing SOMETHING about anything.

If the latest National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll is any indication, we shouldn't hold our breath:

Q: Would it be politically smart for your party to act on only a limited legislative agenda before the November election?

Democrats (39 votes)

Yes 67 percent
No 31 percent
Depends (volunteered) 3 percent

[snip]

Republicans (36 votes)

Yes 53 percent
No 44 percent
No difference (volunteered) 3 percent


That's right, for political purposes, the majority of each party on Capitol Hill feel it would be best to sit on their laurels until after the November Election.

This is part of the reason people get so frustrated with politics, because so often it's a politician's career placed above politician's constituents. They're both more interested in being able to blame the other party for failure than actually doing anything. Too bad it would take a Constitutional Amendment to make term limits a reality, which needs to be approved by Congress, because this is the greatest argument for them.

Unfortunately, too few of us take advantage of the tool the Founding Fathers gave us to limit the terms of the ineffective: Voting. This is a system we as voters have allowed to develop. Until we step up to the plate and hold politicians accountable at the polls, they won't change.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Garrett vs. the GSEs

By now, everybody has heard about the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs). Probably most have just heard about the outright failure of IndyMac. We're really in it now.

Here's how the typical story reports the problem with the GSEs (from Fortune):

They own or guarantee $5 trillion worth of mortgages­ - nearly half of all the country's outstanding home loan debt-and they're crashing. Big time.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are struggling with an investor loss of confidence so great that, while they're unlikely to go under, they could conceivably see their ability to function impaired. That would wreak yet more havoc on an already wrecked housing market- making loans tougher to come by and possibly pushing hundreds of billions of dollars in cost onto U.S. taxpayers.


This whole situation is going to be a major campaign issue. Our Representative Scott Garrett is going to be able to claim he knew it was coming and fought to fix it, which he did. At the same time, Garrett is likely to get hammered for voting against reforming the GSEs twice, which he did.

Back in 2005, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act was passed by the House. Garrett took to the floor a few times, but two are of note. Here's a soundbite from his floor debate speech:
Mr. Chairman, if there was ever a need of entities that need additional regulation, it is Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If there are ever two entities that need to be limited in their size, it is these two entities. If there were every two entities that need not grow, it is these two entities. I applaud the chairmen for their work to regulate them.

Despite his vocal support during floor debate, in an after hours speech laying out the nightmare scenario we're facing today, Garrett announced he would not support the reform bill:
I believe that stronger language is definitely necessary. I worry that a new regulator, without specific congressional direction to reduce the size of portfolios of the GSEs, will face constant political pressures from the GSEs, thus putting the possible problems that result on the backs of American taxpayers.

[snip]

So in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, legislation that is coming before the House next week dealing with GSE, Fannie and Freddie reform is a good first step, but is not in the current format something that we should support.

True to his word, Garrett was one of only 90 to vote against the bill, which later died in the Republican controlled Senate.

Garrett's never lost the desire to limit the size of the GSE's portfolios. Most recently, Garrett was one of 104 to vote against first time home buyers in our District being able to get conforming loans through the GSEs as part of another GSE reform bill. This would have expanded the portfolio.

I was critical of his vote then, in terms of the benefits it could bring to our District, but the man's been consistent. He won't vote for reforms if they don't go as far as he thinks they should. Granted, as Dave Matthews sings, to change the world you start with one step.

It should be interesting to see how this plays out with the campaign. A lot is going to depend on how the situation is resolved outside of politics in the real world. Either way, Garrett will rightly be able to champion his reform stance, and Dennis Shulman will rightly be able to attack his votes against reform.

Ain't politics great...

Garrett on NJ Now

Representative Scott Garrett will be on My9's New Jersey Now on Sunday to discuss the Republican energy plan, and likely the DCCC attack ad against him.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where's Garrett's Jersey Love?

One of the many things 4th grade history class taught most of us in New Jersey was what an important role our State played in winning the Revolutionary War. It's basic. It's one of the many things we have to be proud of in our State that so few other States can claim a role in.

However, today Representative Scott Garrett was one of only 69 Representatives, and the only Representative from New Jersey to vote against including George Washington's historic march to Yorktown through our State as a National Historical Trail.

If I had to guess, Garrett would be concerned with the cost of finally placing the Historic Trail without which no other would be possible into the system. The CBO estimates the cost for the program is about $500,000 a year. That works out to one tenth of a penny per citizen to properly recognize our history.

If Garrett said anything as to why he voted this way, or releases a statement, I'll post it.

Garrett vs. Medicare - Again

Back when I was busy pointing out the misleading and patently false arguments being made by Representative Scott Garrett with regard to SCHIP, one of his more cynical defenses was that seniors would lose coverage if the bill was passed.

Garrett was laying the foundation of the argument currently being used in defense of Medicare Advantage, one of Garrett's favorite taxpayer fleecing programs. Garrett argued against reforming the program then, and was one of 59 Representatives to vote against fixing it last week.

The bill he voted against also prevented doctors treating the elderly from having to take a 10% pay cut for their services, which would have creating fewer choices for seniors. However, as commonsense and fiscally sound as this bill is, the President is threatening a veto. Here's how Herb Jackson summed up the President's stance on the bill:
The White House complained in a statement this week that the bill pays for restoring the doctors' fees by reducing subsidies for Medicare Advantage, an experimental privately managed insurance program for about 2.3 million elderly residents nationwide.

Here's what the CBO said about Medicare Advantage in April 2007:
Such growth, under current payment policies, increases net costs to Medicare because payments made to Medicare Advantage plans exceed costs under the traditional fee-for-service program.

Defending a program that sucks more money out of the trust than is needed to deliver care, to guarantee a profit margin to vendors regardless of their performance, is an absolutely ridiculous position. Part of me kind of hopes that AARP will put Garrett and the other 58 folks in their magazine and explain to people how they were defending bankrupting Medicare.

Garrett may someday realize that consistently voting to have taxpayers pay more for services than things cost is not being a fiscal conservative. $900 hammer anyone?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

AUFC Attacking Garrett from Afar

As first reported by Herb Jackson over on his blog, Americans United for Change are coming to New Jersey with their Bush Legacy Tour bus tomorrow.

Their target is our very own Representative Scott Garrett, who has voted with President Bush 86% of the time. They are also going after Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.

Their chosen location: Newark? At the Newark Bears Stadium? After Newark, they're taking the bus down to Trenton. Who gave them a map of New Jersey's Congressional Districts? This is the bus no one in the District will actually see.

I realize the idea is to get the bus into the papers, and get people like me to write about it, but that would happen regardless of where they chose to park it. Why not put it in Sparta or Bloomingdale, where Garrett and Frelinghuysen split the town? Or maybe in Paramus next to his office and a mall where people can park and look at the thing? Or any of the District's colleges, park and rides, train stations, etc.?

If their goal is to go into the towns and Districts of Bush's most ardent supporters, they really dropped the ball on this one. They have a button on their website for people to click if they want the bus in their town. They really need to add another one for the Congressional Districts they're supposedly targeting.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vote Wright

I don't know how he could have been left off the team, but vote David Wright onto the All-Star Squad.

Shulman's $215K 2nd Quarter

While I haven't received any official numbers to date, it seems Rabbi Dennis Shulman had a rather impressive second quarter of fundraising. The Express-Times ran this in a story on Saturday:
Of the approximately $565,000 Democrat Dennis Shulman's campaign has raised to date, $119,000 came from online donations, campaign manager Jeff Hauser said. Shulman is challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Warren.

If that total amount holds, with total donations of $349,969 listed on their last filing, that means Shulman may have raised roughly $215,000 last quarter.

For some perspective, Paul Aronsohn raised $74,421.65 over the same time period in 2006. It also would mean that by the end of July, Shulman's campaign is within roughly $12,000 of what Aronsohn raised throughout the last campaign.

Once I have official numbers I'll post them.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Seeing Garrett on Independence Day

This is Representative Scott Garrett's public schedule for Independence Day.

Go up and say hello.

FRIDAY, JULY 4, 2008

WHAT: Paramus Independence Day ParadeAppearance
WHERE: Paramus Parade Route goes from Fairview Avenue and CenturyRoad to Midland Avenue - ends at Memorial School
WHEN: 8:30am - 9am

WHAT: Ridgewood Independence Day Parade
WHERE: Ridgewood Parade Route goes from Monroe Street and GodwinAvenue, to East Ridgwood Avenue and ends at the Graydon parking lot.
WHEN: 10:00am-11:30

WHAT: River Edge Independence Day Activities Appearance
WHERE: River Edge - Veteran's Memorial Park
WHEN: 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Garrett's campaign website also lists the Warren County Chamber of Commerce's "Spirit of Americana" in Blairstown.

Congrats Sen. O'Toole

PolitickerNJ reports that State Senator Kevin O'Toole has been tapped to lead the NJ Republican County Chairs. Maybe he'll be able to help out new BCRO Chair Bob Yudin finally break the lock of Joe Ferriero.

No one doubts it's an uphill battle. Ferriero used his pay-to-play mastery to raise over $300K to squash the challenge of the Real Bergen Democrats this spring.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To Get You In the Mood...



Still my favorite version.

Video of Garrett on Fox



This is exactly what I was talking about in this piece from yesterday discussing why I thought the DCCC ad missed the mark. I have to give credit to Representative Scott Garrett where credit is due. He may have an energy voting record that would infuriate his constituents, but his response to this ad was perfect.

Garrett has gotten better over the last two years at giving these matter of fact interviews; and now he gets to portray himself and those attacked as the victims of an unfair assault in the absence of results by Democrats. And you know what; people will eat that up.

As the "most trusted" news channel in America, it's probably too much to ask the Fox News anchor not to lead Garrett; or maybe she could have pointed out that 85% of our natural resources are not locked up.

While 85% of our coastline may be off-limits to drilling, according to the EIA, there is a little under 25% of our proven reserves that are non-producing in total (whether by corporate choice or regulation). Of that, 9.1% are in Federal waters off shore.

If we were to start producing a million barrels a day from the non-producing Federal area, it would last us five years and off-set imports by less than 10%. Oh, and it will take 8 to 10 years to get there.

However, this info which took about 15 minutes to find, likely won't ever make it in front of as many eyes as Garrett did playing the victim card over the last 48 hours. It's the sad reality of today's politics, and it's part of what needs to change. However, it's the game we play these days and Garrett has gotten very good at it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Must See Film: Election Day

PBS did the broadcast premier of Election Day, a documentary by Katy Chevigny. I originally saw the film as part of the Stranger Than Fiction series a while back, and it instantly became one of my favorite films of all time.

The film takes an amazing look at our electoral process by observing 11 different stories all shot on Election Day 2004. The good, the bad and the ugly are shown as they happen.

The film covers important aspects regarding registration, voting rights, and ballot verification. It also has very touching scenes, including those covering individuals voting for the first time.

PBS will be streaming the entire film on-line for the month of July, and I can't recommend it strongly enough. Anybody that wants to help organize a screening let me know.

DCCC Overplay

As a rule of thumb, I pretty much hate cookie cutter political attack ads. Having listened to it, I can say such is the case with the DCCC's Big Oil attack against Representative Scott Garrett. Now I don't have access to the focus groups that said this ad was a good idea, but here's why I think it could backfire.

First, Garrett's become a media darling. He's getting to go on with Blitzer and Cavuto and who knows who else by the end of the week, and talk about how he's being attacked because the Democrats don't have a plan. Here's Garrett's usual comment about the Democrats and energy:
You may recall that when Democrats were campaigning for the 110th Congress, they said that they had a commonsense solution to lower the price of gasoline and energy for the American public. And we are now 18 months , I think, into the 110th Congress. And, well, there is absolutely nothing in the Democrat's plan.

He said that as part of an after hours speech at 9:15 PM on June 11. I don't even know if C-SPAN still covers floor speeches that are unrelated to legislative action, and I'm a political junkie to some degree. Would the average voter have heard it? Unlikely. Among other things Garrett was up against a great episode of Deal or No Deal. However now, Garrett gets to repeat his stance unchecked (because they've already attacked him) and have it rebroadcast to a substantially larger audience at all hours of the day.

Second, they bought ad time on WABC (as well as two stations in Sussex). I'm sure those listening to Limbaugh, Hannity, and Levin are the supply/demand disciples who already see Garrett as a hero and his fight to open drilling off the Jersey Shore as a noble cause. 1010 WINS or 880 WCBS could work, but WABC? I guess since Garrett's told his regular core donors he's worried about Dennis Shulman, the DCCC wanted to put those who might donate to Garrett on notice that he needs their cash.

Third, it reeks of the stereotypical political attack that the average voter doesn't want to see this Election cycle. In a year where change and a new kind of politics are in order, we're listening to an ad that simply offers a generalized attack. We're burned out from this junk. People want solutions.
There's more, but I have to head out. I've written a bunch of times (scroll down) about Garrett's poor stand on energy. However, instead of taking the time to really educate voters about Garrett's record the DCCC went the easy, boring, and unproductive politics as usual way.

Garrett's a Media Darling

I'll have more on this thought later, but Representative Scott Garrett will be on Fox News Channel's Your World with Neil Cavuto at approximately 4:10 to discuss the DCCC Attack Ad. As always, if I find a video or transcript I'll post it.

Garrett on DCCC Attack Ad

I couldn't find a video of The Situation Room, but did find a transcript.
The White House has no response. Republicans, including a New Jersey congressman who's among those targeted, have less of a problem with the impersonator and more with the Democrats who control Congress saying Republicans are at fault for failing to help American drivers.

REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R), NEW JERSEY: What do we get out of the Democrats. Well, we get Nancy Pelosi flying her private jumbo jet back to -- back to California, and putting Congress on recess with no resolution to the energy crisis. And now we get attack ads.

For the record, Garrett takes Amtrak back and forth to DC. Garrett takes the regular regional train, as opposed to Acela. I make the same choice when going back and forth to DC, largely because Acela's price vs. time saved isn't worth it.