Saturday, May 30, 2009

Retire Garrett Launches Newsletter

The folks over at Retire Garrett have launched a newsletter aimed at removing Representative Scott Garrett. Done in PDF, it's easy to e-mail to folks who don't tend to go to blogs. It introduces the organization to those unfamiliar with it:
We are constituents of the 5th Congressional District who are concerned about the extreme political stance of our congressman, Scott Garrett. We are people from all walks of life, people of all ages, people from all political parties, people without party affiliation, we are people who reject extremism, the watchword of Representative Garrett.
The group has already received some early press for their efforts. Another Retire Garrett event was promised some time in June or July, I'll keep everybody posted as to when it is.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Moron for Kansas 1

I realize I haven't been writing much of late, but this was just too much to pass on. Somehow I got on the mailing list for Rob Wasinger, who is running for the House in Kansas's 1st Congressional District.

One of the things that started my running and writing about our Representative Scott Garrett was his blatant misrepresentation of facts a few years back. To his credit, he and his new staff seem to have dropped the habit of late. However, that doesn't mean others won't mislead voters in order to win favor.

Such seems to be the case with Mr. Wasinger. In a roughly 500 word diatribe against Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Wasinger drops a few gems ignoring a fundamental fact: The House Doesn't Vote on Judges.

Here's what I mean:

I am running for Congress because of our shared conservative values,especailly our belief in a judiciary that upholds the Constitution and does not legislate from the bench.

I've been in the Court battles. As the former chief-of-staff to Senator Brownback, a member of the Judiciary Committee, I've seen first-hand the growing power of the judiciary and know how to stop it.

And I pledge to you: I'll always put principle above politics.

It'd be nice if one of his principles wasn't to misinform voters in the process.

My personal favorite is this one:
Let's weaken Obama in 2010 by taking back Congress to ensure we have enough votes to block liberal appointments to the federal judiciary.

Not only does the House not vote on Judicial appointments, but Kansas 1 hasn't had a Democrat holding the seat since 1955.

This is exactly the sort of partisan misinformation campaign that really destroys our ability to move forward. Who knows, Wasinger could be the next Representative from Kansas 1. But at some point, we as a people have to stop electing people who blatantly misrepresent the truth.

And Republicans, should they ever want to gain national trust again, have to stop accepting this kind of behavior.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Congressional Art Competition

This is one of the cool things that Representative Scott Garrett and other members of Congress get to do every year. From the Garrett Gazette:

Please join me for this year's Congressional Art Competition on Saturday, May 16 at Sussex County Community College, from 10:00am to noon.

I have been collecting submissions from fifth district high school students for the competition, and this Saturday, we will showcase all of their submissions and announce this year's winners.

The Congressional Art Competition showcases paintings, drawings, collages, and prints submitted by high school artists. A panel of local judges will determine the best artwork and I will announce the winners at an awards ceremony following the reception. This is a great opportunity to view the work of local students and support their creative efforts.

The first place winner will have his or her piece displayed for a year in the U.S. Capitol Complex, along with other winning pieces from around the country. The second place piece of artwork will be displayed for a year in my Washington, D.C. office and the third and fourth place pieces will be showcased in my district offices.

The response from area high school students has been simply outstanding. I am proud to have my office participate in this competition every year, and so pleased to recognize the efforts of student artists in our community.


Scott Garrett
Member of Congress

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Garrett's Statement On His Mortgage Vote

As noted earlier today, if Representative Scott Garrett decided to shed some light as to why he joined 14% of voting Members in opposing cracking down on predatory lending and fraud I'd post it. It's roughly the same "if we take the fraud and dishonesty out of the process, you the consumer will be hurt" line of logic he used justifying being opposed to credit card reform.

Here's his statement:

“At a time when millions of Americans are still feeling the pain from the credit crisis, this bill will further restrict credit options for consumers and decrease liquidity in our nation’s mortgage markets.

“Additionally, it’s unfortunate that this bill does not do anything to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As these two entities have been identified among the leading causes of the financial crisis, it should be a top priority to address the problems with them as soon as possible.

Garrett had issued this statement on an earlier version of the bill that I had missed:

“The intent of the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act is to improve mortgage lending regulation. Unfortunately, this legislation has the potential to limit the accessibility of home financing options for consumers, while increasing the cost of credit. Due to its breadth in scope, there is the potential for many unintended consequences in the marketplace, as the legislation affects everyone from the mortgage originators that make loans to the securitizers that package the loans in the secondary market.

“I do appreciate the intent of the bill, which is to increase underwriting standards and protect borrowers. In actuality, though, this bill is flawed in many ways, as it contains a weak safe harbor provision, increases the liability for assignees and securitizers and places a larger class of loans under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act’s (HOEPA) high-cost provisions.

“In addition, the risk retention requirements as structured will force lenders to markedly increase their capital, which will further narrow credit choices and increase the cost of borrowing for consumers. I applaud Chairman Frank for his efforts in trying to address the important issue of risk retention, however, I believe there are ways to construct this provision more effectively. I look forward to working with him to find solutions for this matter, possibly in the form of covered bonds, which have the potential to aid in returning liquidity to the mortgage market with their high underwriting standards and may also serve as an alternative to securitization.”

Garrett Hearts Predatory Lenders?

Well, Representative Scott Garrett was one of 59 Representatives to vote against providing the resources to crack down on predatory lenders. Garrett's vote really, to me at least, makes no sense.

I can understand him standing with the hedge funds, he always has. I can understand him standing with the credit card companies that double bill, his opinion is that those taking cards have the responsibility to know they're getting ripped off.

But not prosecuting fraud?

What's the logic causing one to vote against providing the money to investigate and prosecute those predatory lenders who assisted in the financial markets melting? If there aren't prosecutions, does that validate his perception it's the borrowers fault? I realize Garrett usually doesn't want to blame lenders, but he has to recognize predatory lenders exist.

And the bill deals with sniffing out fraud with TARP funds. For a guy that spends a lot of time talking about waste fraud and abuse, I would have thought when the opportunity to throw those folks in jail came along he would have been on board. Not providing funding to crack down on TARP fraud?

If Garrett posts a statement regarding this vote, I'll put it up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Garrett Shows Hedge Fund Love

Representative Scott Garrett released a statement criticizing President Obama for pointing out that it was hedge funds holding the debt of Chrysler who wouldn't budge enough to prevent bankruptcy. I've put the whole statement below, but here's the kicker of Garrett's statement:
Many of those invested in these funds were seniors, school teachers, and others whose pension funds are an important component in maintaining a healthy standard of living throughout their retirement.
The line, although nicely dressed up, is pretty much pulled straight from the statement the hedge funds put out to defend themselves:
We have a fiduciary responsibility to all those teachers, pensioners, retirees and others who have entrusted their money to us.
If hedge funds actually had to file who was investing in them, it might be possible to prove their statement, but alas they don't and we can't. One can have a healthy amount of skepticism though, as hedge funds are limited in size by both number of investors (100) and net worth requirements (typically at least $5 million).

So it's interesting to see them spin this like they're some kind of social safety net, when they were given their privileged status because their investors are at less risk than most folks. The funds themselves are so unregulated, and charge so much in fees, states like New Jersey either won't allow or severely limit the amount of public pension that can be invested in them (you know, for teachers, etc.).

However, as long as they have people in Congress like Garrett to turn to, they'll have their champions.

Those that pay the AMT have to remember folks like Garrett voted against taxing hedge fund managers like normal people to patch the AMT. As I noted at the time, doing that would have provided a blue print for permanent repeal. Garrett put 5,000 of these fund managers above the millions who are subjected to the AMT. At least he's consistently supportive of the funds.

Here's Garrett's full statement:

“I am troubled by President Obama’s statements that single out a certain class of Chrysler’s creditors. The president’s comments display complete disregard for the rule of law, as well as the practices which govern our bankruptcy code.

“The actions of the hedge fund managers in exercising their fiduciary responsibilities to their investors is not the reason why Chrysler is in jeopardy, and their acceptance of the government’s offer would not have guaranteed the company’s success. I think the president should think about who he's attacking when he makes these statements. Many of those invested in these funds were seniors, school teachers, and others whose pension funds are an important component in maintaining a healthy standard of living throughout their retirement.

“This demonization of investors comes at the same time when the administration’s Treasury Department is begging for participation from the private sector in its Public-Private Investment Program. The president’s comments beg the question: why would private investors enter into a partnership with the government when there is the future possibility of being publicly scolded for making business decisions the government dislikes?

“It’s time for the government to stop interfering in the marketplace. It simply creates greater uncertainty, facilitates the choosing of winners and losers, and prevents private capital from entering the marketplace.”

Garrett Explains Credit Card Vote

Representative Scott Garrett was on NPR to explain his being one of only 70 (and only from NJ) to vote against the Credit Card Holder's Bill of Rights. Garrett maintains that if the credit card companies can't do things like double billing, they'll stop issuing credit cards. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and the interviewer, take him to task.