Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Garrett Against Tax Breaks

Representative Scott Garrett joined all but two Republicans in voting against extending $31 billion in tax breaks. Here's how the AP describes it:

The tax breaks include a sales tax deduction that mainly helps people in the nine states without local income taxes, a property tax deduction for people who don't itemize and lucrative credits that help businesses finance research and development.


The tax breaks are supported by Democrats and Republicans alike and are routinely extended each year, but there are big disagreements over the tax increases that would pay for them. The dispute, combined with the Senate's prolonged debate on health care, makes it unclear whether the tax package will be enacted this year.


Most Republicans argued that the tax increase would reach far beyond Wall Street, hitting real estate investment funds across the country. Instead, Republicans said, the tax breaks should be financed by federal borrowing, increasing the budget deficit.
The party that had one time introduced PAYGO has completely flipped to being the party of tax cut and borrow. They talk all the time about unfunded mandates, a favorite phrase of Garrett's is kicking the can down the road, but the fact is that when it comes to anything involving balancing the budget they wholeheartedly oppose the action.

It seems there are now a whopping two Republicans in the House who can claim to be fiscally conservative. This is an improvement, but the party has a long way to go to ever earn the right to recapture the purse strings of our nation's future.

If Garrett said anything during the debate or releases a statement I'll post it.

Garrett vs. Equal Rights

I wrote yesterday about my belief at this point that marriage equality was due. Herb Jackson posted a nice piece explaining that once again the rest of the nation is looking to New Jersey to lead. In the piece, he highlights Representative Scott Garrett and his standing opposition:
A bill pending in the House since May that would prevent the district (Washington, DC) from enacting a same-sex marriage law has 60 sponsors, including New Jersey Reps. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, and Christopher Smith, R-Robbinsville.
Garrett has not changed his tune much. Back in 2004 he took to the House Floor to deliver a speech slamming marriage equality:
If we redefine marriage, it will harm everyone, especially the children. It will legally repudiate the idea that marriage has anything to do with a family, and will legally embrace the idea that marriage is just an arrangement for the convenience of the grownups.

Now, I am here today to support what is best for the kids. The ideal situation for a child is to grow up with a mom and a dad in a loving, committed marriage . Mothers are better able to provide certain lessons than fathers can, and fathers in turn can provide role models in ways that moms simply cannot.

I think it is time that we rip away all the rhetoric that we have heard and know that this debate comes down to this: it is a choice of being what is in the best interests of our children over the choice of what is in the best interests of a select few adults. The choice is clear. I urge all Members to support our children by supporting the Marriage Protection Amendment.
How exactly does equality harm me? How exactly does equality harm Garrett, for that matter? Not one single opponent of equality has ever been able to explain that to me.

This is one of many sad examples of a publicly elected official assailing the dignity of individuals. The speech may be five years old, but there are countless examples that are similar.

History has never looked kindly on those who supported maintaining inequality, and this will be another example when the time comes. The Garretts of the world on this issue are probably okay with that. To some extent, you have to expect it, as unfortunate and misguided as it is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Legalize It

I've only written about marriage equality a couple of times, but as things have hit a fevered pitch around Trenton, I've been thinking a lot about it. I listened to the testimony given by both sides for hours yesterday. The more I hear, the more I keep going back to my classic conservative roots, which Barry Goldwater explained the best:
The conscience of the Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being.
The Conservative movement Goldwater helped start certainly has fallen very far from the tree when it comes to respecting the dignity of the individual human being. I have yet to see an argument from opponents that does not fall into the category of debasing the individuals I know who happen to be gay.

The more these new conservatives use the language of segregation, the stronger a supporter of equality I've become. A good example of what put me over the top was this misleading video from the Family Research Council, claiming equality means people are losing their right to be intolerant. That's simply not true, people will still have the right to be and teach their kids intolerance. It disturbs me that this has been deemed an effective message, but the FRC would not use it if they did not already know they'd make some money off of it.

Then there's the religious argument. I firmly believe in the First Amendment's protections to practice as denominations see fit. Catholics' right to not marry gays is no different than their right not to recognize divorce, even though divorce is legal. It also should in no way impede Episcopalians' right to allow equality. The law specifically protects the rights of each to practice as they see fit. It's a non-argument.

Fifteen years ago, Goldwater had a very quotable comment specifically to this issue:
"The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they're gay," Goldwater asserts. "You don't have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that's what brings me into it."
Classic conservatives, including President Reagan understood this when push came to shove. Those that make their profit off of these anti-equality campaigns will continue perverting what true conservatism is as long as there's a buck to be made. Anyone that's claiming to be a conservative by arguing against anything but all men and women being treated equal is anything but a true conservative.

It's time our legislature man and woman up and protect the rights of the individual, and the rights of religious institutions to practice as they see fit.