Monday, September 28, 2009

Christie Vs. Christie on Mammograms

While I've written about whether or not Representative Scott Garrett supports the elimination of mammogram coverage for women before, the argument is getting a fresh look in our Governor's race.

Tom Moran of the Star Ledger has a must read piece on what Chris Christie is saying about mammogram coverage now, versus what he said in the primary:

"He’s saying under my plan women would not be able to get mammograms,” Christie says.

Really? Corzine’s television ads are careful on this point. They charge only that Christie would allow insurers to sell policies without mammogram coverage. That happens to be true.

And Christie could not point to even a campaign stop where Corzine went overboard and made a phony accusation.

There have been many times that I've argued that on paper, many conservative ideals are very appealing to many people. However, soundbites of the appealing nature generally have real world implications and many times cease to be practical. This happens to be one of those times.

This should be an interesting test case of the argument for whoever ends up running against Garrett next year. Take what he's said, and explain to people what it means in the real world.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Way to go, Garrett!

Back in July, I wrote that I would fully support Representative Scott Garrett getting involved with a discharge petition of H. Res. 554. For those that don't know, 554 would require all bills to be posted on-line for 72 hours before a vote.

This is what I wrote at the time, as 554 relates to health care reform:
Anyone who honestly cares about making sure this reform is done right should be supporting H. Res 554. It would provide the confidence going forward, or an opportunity see issues that need amending, or the silver bullet if it deserves to fail.

Whether for or against the bill, we need to know what's in the bill.
Garrett signed the discharge petition yesterday. Actually, the entire Republican portion of our delegation has also signed it at this point, so way to go to them as well.

The good people at the Sunlight Foundation say that we're 45 signatures from getting this done. I'm rather disappointed the Democratic members of our delegation haven't signed yet. I've heard it said that transparency is inherently progressive. It's time they get on the good government train.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Garrett for Wasting Tax Dollars

One of the perplexing things about Representative Scott Garrett is that he chooses to advocate for practices that waste taxpayer money, while slamming waste in other programs. I've written before about Garrett's affinity for Medicare Advantage, which has been documented to cost taxpayers more than it should. Yet Garrett gripes about Medicare costing too much.

Today, Garrett sent an e-mail defending his opposition to reforming Federal Student loans. Here's part of his logic:
On Thursday, the House passed a bill (H.R. 3221) that will, if signed into law, eliminate private loans with federal guarantees, replacing such loans entirely with the government’s Direct Loan program – in other words, removing the optionality of the public option – at a cost of $1 trillion over the next ten years.
What Garrett conveniently fails to mention is that enacting this policy is actually saving taxpayers billions. From the CBO:
H.R. 3221 would make several changes to the federal student loan programs, including the Federal Perkins Loan Program. As shown in Table 2, CBO estimates that, on net, those changes would reduce federal costs by $40.7 billion over five years and $74.8 billion over 10 years.
So once again, we have Garrett defending taxpayer money flowing into private hands at a higher cost than we should be paying for the service we're receiving.

Adding insult to the injury of honest debate, Garrett relates his argument to the health care debate and justifying his opposition to the public option.
The student loan public option should serve as a cautionary and instructional tale for Congress and the American people as we continue to discuss ways to reform the health care system.
Garrett's right, the cautionary tale here is that without reform, we're going to continue spending more than we should. That's fine with Garrett, the question should be put to his constituents, is that okay with you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Garrett Votes for Unemployment Extension

Well, this one happened after I did my little run down, and was a little surprising. Representative Scott Garrett joined the vast majority of the House in voting to extend unemployment benefits.

Readers may remember, Garrett was one of only four Representatives to vote against extension of benefits back in 2003.

With 83 Representatives voting against the extension this time around, I was certain Garrett would be one of them. I was pleasantly surprised he wasn't.

Garrett's Recent Votes

With the focus so much on health care these days, it's easy to forget that the House has other business. Representative Scott Garrett has had a number of votes recently that should interest folks here in the Fifth District. Here's a sampling:
H.R. 3221 Garrett and most Republicans voted no on fully funding Pell Grants.

H.R.3246 To provide for a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application in vehicle technologies at the Department of Energy. Only member of the NJ Delegation to vote no.

H.R. 22 To reduce the amount that the United States Postal Service is required to pay into the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund by the end of fiscal year 2009. This was approved, with Garrett's support, by a landslide.

H.R. 965 This one is aimed at providing funding to those preserving the Chesapeake Bay. Once again, Garrett was the only one from NJ to vote no.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Garrett Opposes Medicare

So, after taking a weeks vacation and working to get another project off the ground, I decided I should see what's been cooking in the health care debate with Representative Scott Garrett. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the two weeks of my hiatus.

His staff, apparently in response to pointed criticism from Representative Steve Rothman, decided to put the following statement on his website:

That's a pretty bold statement. As Medicare is government health care, I'm sure the seniors of the District would find that nugget slightly terrifying. One would have to think the sentiment could be fodder during the general next year if applied properly.

Garrett and Rothman faced off on CNN. Herb Jackson posted Rothman's critique:

You know, Scott, I looked on your website tonight. I saw that we share the same concerns and you were criticizing the Democrats' ideas, but you didn't offer one specific program on your website of how to address the problem of insurance companies dropping people with insurance when they get sick or providing competition so the insurance companies can't raise rates, double and triple, as we've seen them happen before.

Garrett does have the e-mail he's sent out before now posted, and although rather nice on platitudes, doesn't list any of the bills he claims he handed the President last week. It also, and I think this is disingenuous, links to Op-Ed pieces as "general news". Call it what it is, the opinions of people Garrett agrees with.

The bottom line is not much has changed during the health care debate. Even if everything Garrett says he supports were in the final bill, and what he isn't saying is that much of it was in the initial bill, he's going to vote against it. Garrett's not even taking the discussion or constituents' concerns seriously, as he was in Europe defending European hedge funds instead of holding town halls.

The sad thing is, Garrett isn't alone on this. Republicans are using this as a building block for 2010, at the expense of the American people and our economic recovery. Petty and partisan, my hope is that before November 2nd next year, people will start to realize that's exactly what's going on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Garrett Lectures EU on Hedge Funds

A hallmark of conservative principles used to be that we don't interfere with other nations, because we don't want them interfering with us. However, in this new world, our Representative Scott Garrett decided he should join in defense of hedge funds with Representative Paul Kanjorski in criticizing what is essentially a European Union decision. From Bloomberg:
Paul Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat, told EU lawmakers today that proposed EU rules “scared the living bejesus” out of the industry. (London Mayor) Johnson said that the proposals threaten London’s role as a leading financial center.

The rules under consideration would limit the amount of borrowing hedge funds can use and require the use of European- domiciled banks. The initiative was designed amid the fallout from the financial crisis, in which the decline of the U.S. housing market triggered bank losses and triggered the first worldwide recession since World War II.

“Your focus should be elsewhere,” Congressman Scott Garrett, a Republican from New Jersey, told members of the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee. He said hedge funds weren’t the cause of the global financial crisis.
While Garrett has a history of defending hedge funds, one has to hope the characterization of Garrett's comments weren't actually Garrett saying they played no part in the problem. It would be the height if irresponsibility for him to suggest hedge funds played no part in artificially inflating the bubble.

However, Garrett's "focus elsewhere" comment is very much in line with his thinking. Readers have to remember, he voted against having hedge fund managers taxed like normal people, which would lay the groundwork for a permanent AMT fix for the 20% of our District who have to pay it.

Yes, apparently the opposition to the proposals are bi-partisan, but why are our Congressmen over in Europe telling them how to run their markets? What jobs are they costing our financial sector, if in fact hedge funds would move, should the regulations go into place?