Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Are the Democrats Punting?

A comment over on Blue Jersey about the state of our Congressional District really raised an eyebrow and got me thinking. The comment was this:
I'll give you another example - I live in NJ-5, Scott Garrett is my congressman. It is looking more and more like the county parties aren't going to put ANYONE up - at a time where republican turnout will be higher and more motivated than the past 5+ years.
This is a sad statement on our politics in their current state. Gerrymandering has gotten to a point where folks like Garrett can serve until they are redistricted out or retire. His only threat real and perceived is in the primary, when the smallest fraction of the electorate makes all the decisions. Democrats won't run anyone because they don't want to spend the money. Politics is a business.

This reality undermines the entire intent of a Representative being accountable to their constituents. Forget the fact that the Democrats can't get someone who believes enough in their values to step up. With the Democrats punting, there's no one to bring up relevant questions for voters to ponder at the ballot box. Why vote against small business tax cuts repeatedly? Why vote against balancing the budget repeatedly? Why vote against extending unemployment benefits repeatedly? Why vote to hasten Medicare's insolvency?

Granted, Garrett is by all accounts safe in this seat. In fact it hasn't really been close on election day in a very long time. That said, Democrats failure to supply voters with any kind of alternative abdicates their fundamental responsibility in our already flawed two party system.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Garrett vs. Lowering the Deficit

What is the one plan that successfully lowered the federal deficit?


What does our Representative Scott Garrett consistently vote against?


I've written about this before, especially lamenting what happened to the Republican Party.

As the Tea Party people start their convention, if they really are mad as hell about the size of deficits, they need look no further than Garrett and his fellow Republicans that served from 2002-Present (including Dick Armey). They were the ones to abandon PAYGO, allowing the deficit to grow, and they are the ones who keep voting against it.

While Garrett has previously said PAYGO only justifies increasing taxes, history tells another tale. When instituted by REPUBLICANS, it took a few years, but in the late 1990's we actually started running surpluses and paying down our debt. Garrett's brand of Republicans decided in 2002 this wasn't a good idea.

Here's how Alan Greenspan explained it:
However, the brief emergence of surpluses in the late 1990s eroded the will to adhere to these rules, which were aimed specifically at promoting deficit reduction rather than at the broader goal of setting out a commonly agreed-upon standard for determining whether the nation was living within its fiscal means. Many of the provisions that helped restrain budgetary decision making in the 1990s--in particular, the limits on discretionary spending and the PAYGO requirements--were violated ever more frequently; finally, in 2002, they were allowed to expire.

Reinstating a structure like the one provided by the Budget Enforcement Act would signal a renewed commitment to fiscal restraint and help restore discipline to the annual budgeting process. Such a step would be even more meaningful if it were coupled with the adoption of a set of provisions for dealing with unanticipated budgetary outcomes over time.
As I've noted before, it was Garrett's freshman year in Congress that he went along with the Republicans and their "Deficits Don't Matter" mentality.

Now, Garrett and the others are trying to tap into the populist outrage against government debt, while continuing to vote against the only thing that really works to reduce the deficit. It is the height of hypocritical political opportunism, and if these Tea Party people actually care about facts, they need to call out all 179 Republicans that voted against PAYGO.

Unfortunately, I doubt that will ever happen, because the Tea Party's "esteemed" leader was the one running the show when PAYGO was canned to begin with. I don't doubt these Tea Party people really are outraged, what I doubt is that their leadership's intentions are more than simply lining their own pockets, like Ralph Reed opposing Indian casinos.