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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Garrett Fails Purity Test

The announcement of the Republican Purity Test is further proof of how far from an inclusive party the Republicans have gone, and how far the authoritarians written about by John Dean have come. Instead of allowing people to choose their own Representatives, the powerful few want to dictate to the masses from their pirch in Washinton.

How'd that work out for you kids up in NY 23?

If this goes through, gone will be the future Tom Keans. Gone will be the Marge Roukemas and Leonard Lances and Frank LoBiondos. Gone will be the Teddy Roosevelts and the Abraham Lincolns.

Depending on how seriously they took this rule, gone would be Representative Scott Garrett.

While I doubt Garrett would fall from favor with this crowd, let's look at the pledge line by line to see where he gets tripped up, through a strict constructionist view (8 of 10 to pass):
(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

Garrett, and every other Republican that voted for a Bush Budget fails on multiple fronts on this one. They exploded the deficit and the national debt. Many also voted against PAYGO, which would make new spending deficit neutral, and in many cases voted against tax cuts for actual small business owners (the non-publicly traded type).

Epic fail.

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;
(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;
(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

Garrett's been clear on all of these, so that's a pass.

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

This one is a mixed bag. They supported going to war with less than what the military wanted, but voted for the surge. I suppose, they could say, they'll only listen to the military after the civilians like Rumsfeld mess things up. I suppose Garrett passes.

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

In order to contain Iran and North Korea effectively, we need to engage them as Reagan engaged the Soviet Union. While the Republicans interpreting this little test probably won't see it this way, Garrett and many others have been on record against engagement, and therefore should fail this one.

That's two fails.

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

Republicans used to stand for all men and women being treated equal, however that's no longer the case. Special interest fundraising based discrimination has turned into party dogma. Garrett's on board with this.

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

By arguing the status quo, as they do in point 2, Garrett and the rest of those that would profess these ideals are actively supporting corporate America dictating who gets what care. On top of that, they also fail point one yet again with point two, because it protects taxpayer rip off programs like Medicare Advantage.

The third fail.

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

Really? With a blanket statement like that Republicans seem to want to arm every convicted violent criminal on parole? Wow. Since I don't know if Garrett would back that, we'll leave this one as an uncertain.

As I said, those who would dictate from the top what the party means instead of leaving it to their members, are unlikely to boot Garrett. That said, it's also important to look at this pledge with what it's missing:

  • No commitment to a balanced budget;
  • No commitment to eliminating waste;
  • No commitment to veterans;
  • No commitment to innovation;
  • No commitment to education;
  • No commitment to the environment;
  • No commitment to a brighter future, only opposition.

This little Purity Test simply reinforces the image of Republicans as the party of No.

It also is a dangerous development. More on this topic to come soon...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Garrett a Birther? Nah.

Representative Scott Garrett seems to have been backed into a corner by Birthers. During the health care "house calls", Garrett managed to get badgered by a couple of birthers (those that refuse to believe the evidence President Obama was born here).

After a few minutes of his health care discussion being hijacked by these two nuts, one of whom fancies himself a blogger (sans spelling and grammer I suppose), he gave a very tacit "I agree" that has been picked up by the Washington Independent and Daily Kos.

While the Kos article has prompted a ton of comments based on the video, I think this one is closest to the truth:
I can't fault Garrett for pretending to agree with a group of mentally challenged Pbaggers. If a bunch of looneyloons approached me about Obama's birth I'd pretend to agree with them too just to get them off my back.
While I wish Garrett had had the fortitude to squash this whole thing, he's in a very precarious spot, as is the Republican Party. From the description of the video (spelling/grammar theirs):
NJ Lawyer confronts NJ Congressman Scott Garrett at 11/5/09 Washington DC House call on the Obama Presidential qualifications requirement of US Constitution under Article II Section 1. Repblicans and all Congressman do not realize the tens of millions of voting Americans wanting this issue resolved. Although considered a minority, the numbers are large enough to impact primaries especially for Republicans who seem to be skirting the issue.
That's right, these fringe folks just threatened Garrett and every other Republican who doesn't agree with them. As the Republican Party has embraced the Tea Party people and their organizing skills, including our local Bergen County Republican Organization, they've opened themselves up to further purity tests. This is reminiscent of when the Christian Coalition started their purge.

I've seen enough of Garrett over the years, both in person and video, to have seen him be serious and passionate about a belief of his. This isn't one of those times. The thing is, I'm pretty sure the Birthers know that, too.

An article a long time ago said Garrett would only have to fear a Republican primary challenge from someone on the Right, which I had a hard time believing was possible, but I suppose now we all know it is. As participation in primaries dwindles, these small groups of fanatics wield more and more power because they actually show up to vote.

This will likely be a non-issue for Garrett in the long run, but when Garrett gets attacked for not being Conservative enough, you know the Republican Party is in for a rough time ahead.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Garrett vs. 1.4 million Home Buyers

Representative Scott Garrett finally explained why he voted against extending unemployment benefits and the first time home buyer tax credit:

So, in sum, we have a program rampant with fraud, which gives taxpayer dollars to people who don’t legitimately qualify, and fails to appropriately credit the individuals that do qualify. It’s clear that employees of the IRS were aware of the problems with claims process for this program, as the inspector general found 53 cases of IRS employees filing "illegal or inappropriate" claims for the credit. In its current form, this program costs taxpayer about $1 billion a month and is expected to cost $15 billion for the year. Rather than terminate this program, Congress voted on November 5 to expand the program to homeowners looking to buy a replacement principle residence. How many more four-year olds will fraudulently receive taxpayer money under this program before Congress realizes this is a terrible idea?

Voting to expand this program would have been irresponsible of me, and an abdication of my responsibility as a guardian of taxpayer dollars. The Homebuyer Tax Credit Program was a poison pill to otherwise well-intended legislation.

It bears repeating that Garrett was one of 2.7% of the House to vote no on this bill, so it hardly was a poison pill.

It also bears repeating that Garrett has never stood up with the same conviction regarding funds going to fraud in Iraq, which has funded those who kill our troops.

Garrett gave a number of stats that, while far from ideal, pale in comparison to the good the program has done. From the Gazette, here are the numbers that were largely reported (bolding Garrett):

19,300 electronically filed 2008 tax returns where people claimed the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, yet had not purchased a house, claiming that they intended to do so in the future. Cost to the taxpayer: $139 million.

74,000 credit claims by filers who it was later determined weren’t first-time homebuyers. Cost to the taxpayer: $500 million.

580 taxpayers younger than 18 years of age who claimed First-Time Homebuyer Credits; the youngest of whom was a four-year old. Cost to the taxpayer: $4 million.

3,200 individuals claiming credits thought to be alien residents, which are prohibited from receiving most Federal public benefits. Cost to the taxpayer: $20.8 million.

It's unfortunate to see that if you add all the numbers together that roughly 6.5% of claims were fraudulent. However, the IRS is pursuing criminal investigations and suspending rebates, so those folks will be dealt with in time.

In the meantime, it also means that 93.5% of the submissions appear to be valid, which means roughly 1.4 million new homeowners have been helped by the program.

Garrett's statement explaining his vote against the bill is nothing more than a spotty claim to righteousness that makes the perfect the enemy of the good. Garrett seems to want to poison the discussion by ignoring the good the program has done, as well as the measures being taken to correct the program. That's a disservice to constituents and all of the home buyers and sellers within the district who benefit from the program.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Garrett Talks Health Care

Representative Scott Garrett chats with Fox 5 about his vote against the health care bill. Garrett talks almost exclusively about Medicare Advantage as his reason, which as I've written before can currently charge taxpayers up to a 40% mark up on services.

It's good to see Garrett using the full term, as opposed to earlier, but I still can't understand how someone who claims he is a fiscal conservative can defend taxpayers paying up to 40% more than something actually costs for anything.

Although the House bill is dead in the Senate, taking the 40% mark up will be out no matter what bill comes back to the House for reconciliation.

While Garrett claims the program will be taken from those enrolled, nothing in the bill eliminates the program. What it eliminates is the 40% mark up. Now should insurance companies only participate due to their ability to gouge taxpayers, one could see them cease to offer the program, as the Chief Actuary for Medicare and Medicaid noted.

That aside, Garrett's interview is interesting in that it shows his true feeling on the Bill and overhaul in general.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Live Stream Of Garrett's Town Hall

Update: It was less of a town hall and more of a sales pitch for why Representative Scott Garrett was going to vote against the bill. He didn't read one question in support of the plan. He only spoke for 50 minutes. It's unfortunate he'd take that route.

One clear thing, he continued defending his support of Medicare Advantage, which allows insurance companies to charge a mark up of up to 40% over what things actually cost. It rips off the taxpayer and drains the trust fund, and yet he still defends it. Unbelievable.

Free video streaming by Ustream

Garrett vs. Unemployment Extension

Representative Scott Garrett was one of 12 Representatives to vote against extending unemployment benefits to the unemployed. If Garrett ever releases a statement on his reasoning I'll post it.

Garrett Health Care Townhall

Representative Scott Garrett is hosting a virtual Town Hall meeting on the Health Care Bill tonight at 7PM. Here's the info:

RSVP by clicking here:

Email your questions in advance or during the town hall to

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Congratulations Governor Christie

When I voted this morning, and saw that many many more people than usual had voted before me, there was definitely a sense Christie may have done it.

Now, being the eternal optimist, I'm hopeful for this new chapter in our state's governance. Not only was Christie able to ride his corruption convictions to Trenton; his substantial county and local level coattails swept aside the first of Papa Joe Ferriero's hand picked Freeholders here in Bergen.

Regardless of who won the election, we were in for a few tough years ahead while trying to climb out of the mess we're in. Voters clearly wanted a change of direction at the top. Our state simply can't afford for partisanship to get in the way of progress. As Democrats control both Chambers in Trenton, compromise is going to be key if we're to rebound from this mess.

Voters have spoken, now we have to see if politicians will listen. I'm optimistic they will, even if cautiously.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Garrett's Election Thoughts

Those interested will be able to see Representative Scott Garrett weigh in on the Election over on Fox Business Channel tomorrow night.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Garrett's $339 Billion Distortion

It's been a while since we've needed a piece like this, but as the Health Insurance debate heats up, one had to guess at some point Representative Scott Garrett was going to start spinning like a top again.

At issue is a floor speech made yesterday, that will also likely be included in this week's Garrett Gazette to mislead constituents. The focus of the speech is a report by HHS Chief Actuary Richard Foster. It has become a rallying cry to those opposed to the health insurance overhaul.

Might as well get into the speech:
According to that chief actuary whom I just mentioned, total spending on health care would actually increase by $750 billion more than if we did nothing at all.
This is the second to last true statement in the speech, an average of $75 billion a year for 10 years.

From Garrett:
You see, the real overall cost of this bill would be $1.2 trillion.
From the Actuary:
We estimate that Federal expenditures would increase by a net total of $861 billion.
That's the $339 billion distortion. Not only is Garrett's gross cost more than $100 billion higher than the Actuary's gross ($1,035 billion), he doesn't mention the savings. It's wholly dishonest of Garrett not to mention the savings.

From Garrett:
After all of this spending, there would still be around 20-some-odd million uninsured Americans. So, for those folks who are trying to keep score of all of this, that comes out to be about $35,000 per uninsured person out there.
First off, the "20-some-odd million" includes illegal immigrants, per the Actuary, so I guess it's nice Garrett's calling them Americans.

Second, based on the above correction in numbers saying that all of the money spent is only to insure the uninsured (which it's not), the cost OVER TEN YEARS is roughly $25,000 per person, or an average of $2,500 per year per newly insured person. Garrett seems back to making up five figure distortions again.

From Garrett:
Now, another promise that the President made was that he said, ‘‘if you like your current coverage, you keep it.’’ Well, again, look back to that government actuary whom we talked about before. According to that chief actuary, that’s not true if you’re a senior on Medicare, because 8.5 million seniors on Medicare today would lose their current coverage, and they would be forced into some different coverage.
This is Garrett scaring seniors again. Readers may remember Medicare Advantage is one of Garrett's favorite taxpayer fleecing programs. He conveniently left out Advantage, from Medicare Advantage, when saying these words.

The reason is because it's inconvenient for him to acknowledge that, according to the Actuary, once insurance companies can't charge the government up to a 40% mark up on the same services provided as Medicare they're likely to reduce their available plans.

Seniors will be able to get the same services, it's just that Medicare won't be billed 40% extra for the same services, thus saving taxpayers money. The Actuary and the CBO see this as a good thing. And Garrett claims to be a fiscal conservative?

From Garrett:
The chief actuary says the cuts could force such organizations, such as nursing homes and home health agencies, to leave the Medicare program and, thus, ‘‘possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.’’
Readers have to remember that if Garrett had his way, nursing care could be dropped by insurers anyway. Kind of a tough call, but as the Actuary actually said that we'll give this one to Garrett.

I've written before how this speech structure is an effective way to misrepresent the truth: book-ending the misrepresentations with facts to give credibility to the misrepresentations. The added twist here is that Garrett's talking about a report based on a bill that does not exist anymore, and won't be voted on.

And the spin goes on...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Garrett and Consumer Protection

Representative Scott Garrett voted against creation of the Consumer Protection agency yesterday. He discusses his stance and reasoning over on MSNBC, opposite Barry Ritholtz. Ritholtz takes Garrett to task for his characterization of the bill, as well as his belief we already do enough, and Garrett even seems to back off his stance when faced with the practical implications of the agency:

No Bidding Bergen: Ferriero Goes Down

This is long overdue. Papa Joe Ferriero has been convicted.

While I've written a couple dozen times about Papa Joe, and could only hope they throw the 40 year/$500,000 book at him to send a message; the Record Editorial about the conviction makes me less enthused than I thought I would be. Here's the important part:

However, it is too early to break out the champagne. New Jersey’s culture of corruption has not been dismantled. It has been slowed down, nothing more. The steady stream of public officials hauled before judges and juries has not been diminished by high-profile arrests.

In Bergen County, the Democratic Party has operated with barely a blip since Ferriero’s arrest. The same candidates are seeking office; the same county committee people control the process. Removing the king, while the rest of the kingdom remains firmly in place, is more show than substance. What happens next is what is important.

Democrats in Bergen have a choice to make, keep doing things the same corrupted way or follow the path of State Senator Loretta Weinberg and win based on principle. They only have to look at the BCRO to see how quickly things can fall apart following a corruption bust. Unfortunately, as the Record pointed out, they haven't even attempted to reform themselves.

The no-bid contracts associated with corruption cost all of us money. And although people barely list corruption as one of their concerns when voting, they're fooling themselves if they think high property taxes and high corruption are unrelated. When the public finally puts two and two together, if the BCDO hasn't changed their ways, they won't be able to win an election for dog catcher.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caroline Kennedy's Speech

This was quite the surprise, to have Caroline Kennedy speak yesterday before Governor Corzine and President Obama.

Obama's Entire Speech

It was quite the event. Here is Obama's speech for Governor Corzine:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Updates

Obama: One voice can change a room...

Obama: Tells the story about Fired Up; Ready to Go. Pretty amazing.

Obama: The outcome of this race isn't up to Jon, it's up to you.

Obama is on absolute fire. Super aggressive.

Obama "there seems to be some selective memory on how we got in this fix"

Obama is on the stage. He has given his shout outs.

We need to cover the facts: Jon is running for re-election during challenging times.

Corzine: Over next 13 days I ask you to stand strong with me; and I'll stand with you for four more years.

Scrolling down has become onerous.

Obama visiting NJ

Update: Corzine is hammering education and health. He's slamming mandate free policies.

Corzine: I believe we have a moral obligation to provide a world class education.

Update: Corzine is thanking everyone. This crowd is loving him. "Yes we can". "We are all in this together"

Update: Kennedy- Corzine introduced after she says he's never forgotten the value of a good education.

Update: This is a good speech. Real meat and potatoes, and now we get Caroline Kennedy.

Update: Oh, the "Jewish Grandmother" as hatchet woman is interesting to see in person. She's tearing Christie apart, but seems like she's about to offer the audience milk and cookies.

Update: Senator Loretta Weinberg is speaking now. She's highlighting NJ's diversity. She just used "Strength in Diversity"

Update: Just a reminder, you can watch live at

Update: We're in the holding pattern dance party now. Nothing to do with politics, but watching senior citizens jam to "Sexy Back" is always fun.

Update: The obligatory Bon Jovi. Still can't believe they're having him open Giants Stadium.

Update: We're at the strategic placing stage, with people being lined up behind the podium.

Update: Rothman is tying his support of Obama into Corzine. He mention's Sarah Palin's name and the crowd boos loudly.

Rothman is claiming Corzine will go down in history as one of our greatest Governors ever.

"Let's get the job done" is his ending.

Update: Rep. Steve Rothman. Obama's first backer. They're rolling out the big guns in order.

Update: Huttle- "Chris Christie is wrong when it matters most"

Update: Valerie Huttle up there. Talking about stimulus money. "Jon Corzine knows what matters" seems to be the developing theme.

Update: Vernon Walton is getting the crowd chatting yes we can.

Update: Dennis McNerney is on the stage.

Update: 3,500 folks are going to be here.

Update: And here we go.

Update: The campaign is running live video on their website:

Update: Ah. I doubt the music selection is as interesting at most political functions.

Update: Heard the Joe Ferriero verdict may come today. Would provide for an interesting contrast if he came back guilty the same day Loretta is on with the President.

Update: Best sticker so far: Mammos Matter. Cozine/Weinberg also have a ton of pink signs in the crowd.

Update: I'm actually hoping to hear State Senator Loretta Weinberg speak. She has been at the forefront of cleaning up politics in the Democratic Party and the state. After her battles, and more important victories against Papa Joe and the BCDO, her ending up NJ's Lt. Governor has great potential.

Update: All the regular press are starting to fill into our area. Very good to see some familiar faces.

Update: This venue is much more intimate than PNC, and has the temperature of the ice rink VP Biden visited so many months ago.

One thing that seems to be a common visit during the events this week is voter turnout. Less than 50 percent of people vote, and therefore 25.1 percent can decide who will be our Governor.

I wrote a rather long piece on this a few years back. Above all, people need to participate to gain accountability of their government.

President Obama has returned to NJ in support of Governor Corzine and I'm here. The crowd is starting to be let in and the music is starting to play. Frequent updates to come...

Garrett Talking Down Payments

Here's Representative Scott Garrett discussing his plan to increase the down payment on FHA loans to 5%.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Christie Just Keeps Burying Himself

One has to wonder if Chris Christie is purposely trying to lose, or if his recent issues are reflective of what his management of the state would be like. We're in rough enough shape as it is, this kind of mismanagement won't help us get better.

In case you missed it, there are two issues that he just keeps making worse for himself.

First, Christie just keeps getting deeper in the scandal with Michelle Brown, his former assistant/travel buddy. The NY Times ran a scathing piece, highlighting her alleged interference at the US Attorney's office. Christie's surrogates then tried to deflect the criticism. However, they can't avoid the issue and the more they try and say he didn't do anything wrong the worse they're sounding.

Second, and this really should be first, on whether or not he's going to be a fiscal conservative, Christie himself has been quoted as saying he would allow cabinet officials to put themselves up at expensive hotels. The story was picked up by News 12:

And by WPIX:

You simply can't claim to be a fiscal conservative and then propose to govern like this. As Christie has started to attack Chris Daggett to stop from taking fiscal conservatives, one has to realize it's because Christie himself is not a fiscal conservative. No way, no how.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Daggett Supporter Drops By

As a former Independent candidate myself, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chris Daggett and what his campaign has been able to accomplish to date.

He's earned the endorsement of the Star Ledger, seeks the council of solid centrists like Governor Angus King (quoted under my picture to the right), receives full write-ups in the New York Times, and is currently polling at 16%. Pretty remarkable.

So, as I have spoken about the other two candidates, I figure it only fair to let one of Daggett's folks have a voice here. Here's a comment left on my post yesterday (I took the liberty of connecting the hyperlinks):
Unfortunately politicians in both parties do this. We need to shake up the system by electing Chris Daggett.

That's why The Star Ledger’s endorsement of Chris Daggett is great news. I wish the Republicans would stop the Bush/Rove Fear mongering. There is obviously a consensus that a vote for Daggett is not a vote for Corzine.

Daggett is a viable candidate and there are many of this who are voting for him because we know he can win and is the only candidate who can change this state. The Star Ledger’s endorsement echoes and re-affirms that opinion.

We need people to get involved and spread the word about Chris Daggett.

Learn 15 ways to help and get started now.

Even if your not from NJ you can still cyber volunteer. Go here to get Html and Text code to post on the web or in an email!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Christie's Room(s) at the Inn

Update: Hotwire lays out the trips; Blue Jersey promoted a thoughtful comparison between Christie and Sharpe James.

I'm going to flat out say it, Chris Christie is not the sharpest politician in the world.

From the AP:

On trips in 2007 and 2008, his top deputy, Michele Brown, also exceeded the guidelines after Christie approved her requests for rooms in the same five-star hotels where he was booked.

The vouchers show Christie and Brown stayed at the NineZero Hotel in Boston on Oct. 16, 2007 and each billed taxpayers $449 plus taxes and fees for their rooms, more than double the government allowance for a Boston hotel room at the time, according to a General Services Administration travel reimbursement table.

You can't claim to be fiscally conservative, and then act like it only applies to everyone else. To make matters worse, in addition to Christie taking taxpayers for a ride, Christie approved his assistant doing it, too.

In fairness to Christie, he's said he couldn't find a room. Although the Red Sox were playing in the playoffs that night (was he there?) and Tori Amos was in town (or there?), it's unlikely every affordable hotel in Boston was booked on a Tuesday night. In fact, Christie has a demonstrated history of this sort of blatant waste, exceeding federal limits on 87.5% of his trips.

Then, going back to things you should think about, the AP article points out some interesting timing:
Christie made a mortgage loan to Brown five days after they returned from Boston, on Oct. 22, 2007. He failed to report the loan on federal ethics forms and on his 2007 federal income tax returns, omissions he later described as a mistake. Brown has since resigned and joined a private law firm.
While no one is saying that Christie and Brown have had an affair, he should have realized at some point in time, such a coincidence in timing would sow seeds of doubt in the public's mind.

So not only does he abuse taxpayer dollars, he doesn't think.

New Jersey has a long and sorry history of politicians who don't think, which is part of the reason we're in the mess we're in. While people are already seem burned out over the campaign, it will be interesting to see how the public reacts.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Garrett Talking Health Care

Representative Scott Garrett was on CNBC chatting about President Obama's health care reform plan.

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?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Garrett Talking Health Care Pt. 2

It must be nice for Representative Scott Garrett to represent the District right next to New York and Secaucus. Being opposed to everything, he's likely getting a lot of phone calls for in studio time.

Here, he's on Squawk Box with Rep. Allyson Shwartz.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nearly 10% of NJ's Lost Jobs Are Back

Correction: It was pointed out that the 150,000 jobs lost was total, not simply private sector. Therefore, with the public sector losses, the overall gains are actually about 5%.

In a conference call that just finished up a little bit ago, Governor Jon Corzine touched on something that probably is getting lost in all of the press about Chris Christie's apparent violation of the Hatch Act and the overall politicization of our Justice Department under Karl Rove and George Bush.

We here in NJ gained 13,000 private sector jobs last month. Since 2007, we've lost about 150,000, so we've gained 8.6% back. It's still a long way to go, but 9% in a month is progress.
Since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, New Jersey has lost 150,100 jobs (-3.7%). Nationally, employment has declined by 6.7 million jobs (-4.8 %).

Considerable over-the-month job gains occurred in the leisure and hospitality (+6,200), construction (+3,400), professional and business services (+3,200), and manufacturing (+3,100) supersectors. Hiring in the arts, entertainment and recreation component (+5,300) was responsible for the gain in leisure and hospitality, while most of the growth in professional and business services employment was due to gains in the administrative support/waste management/remediation segment (+2,900). In construction, the job gains were mainly due to hiring by specialty trade contractors.
So not only did we add jobs, we've lost fewer jobs as a percentage than the nation. As someone who regularly reads the reports, and chastised those who ignore them, the fact we actually added manufacturing jobs is, well, shocking. When you consider that since the recession began in 2007 as a nation we've lost 2 million, and in New Jersey we've been losing them for months, the gain is definitely a positive sign.

With Christie's ethics armor getting dented (daily at this point), if New Jersey can get a few months like this before the Election, Corzine will definitely be in a stronger position.

It's good to have some good news for a change.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Garrett Talking Health Care

Representative Scott Garrett and Representative Anthony Weiner sat down on Fox 5's morning show to discuss the health care debate. One of the important things they discussed was whether or not Congress actually will read all 1,000 of the bill.

Garrett, for his part, has put his money where his mouth is on this one, signing up to co-sponsor H. Res. 554. I've written before about the "Read the Bill" campaign, and I'm really happy to see Garrett on board.

The discussion on health care is an interesting watch:

Also, Garrett and Weiner participated in a chat room together after the on-air interview. Nothing earth shattering in there, both stayed on their message.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Morons At The Gate

If significant health care reform is defeated, and people's bills continue to rise with more and more of the GDP being eaten without improved outcomes, idiotic mentality will be a leading cause. As promised, the NJ Tea Party folks visited the town hall meetings of Rep. Steve Rothman yesterday, and as The Record reports, it got a bit rowdy.

However, the lack of commonsense in those protesting could not be overlooked:

When a supporter of universal coverage declared “all Americans are entitled to health care,” he was greeted with a chorus of boos.

“Everybody does have health care,” someone shouted from the audience. “Go to the hospital and get it!”

PricewaterhouseCoopers just released a study estimating that logic costs those of us with insurance an extra $14 billion a year.

"This is an inappropriate use of the ER," said Dee Swanson, president of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. "You don't go to the ER for strep throat."

Since emergency rooms are legally obligated to treat all patients, Swanson said providers ultimately find ways to pass on the cost for treating the uninsured to other patients, such as to those who pay out-of-pocket for their medical care.


"Going to the doctor for strep throat would cost $65-$70. In the ER, it's $600 to $800," he said.

So, the Tea Party folks seem to advocate wasting money. To be fair, I suppose it's one, but based on the previous e-mail I was forwarded, it's fair to wonder how widespread the lack of sense is.

In all, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates we waste $1.2 trillion of our $2.2 trillion spend on health care. Around 20% of this waste has been directly created by the very private insurance companies the Tea Party people are defending:

"Every insurance company has its own forms," McGenney said. "Some practices spend 40% of their revenue filling out paperwork that has nothing to do with patient care. So much of this could be automated."

Dr. Jason Dees, a family doctor in a private practice based in New Albany, Miss., said his office often resubmits claims that have been "magically denied."

"That adds to our administrative fees, extends the payment cycle and hurts our cash flow," he said.

Dees also spends a lot of time getting "pre-certification" from insurers to approve higher-priced procedures such as MRIs. "We're already operating on paper-thin margins and this takes times away from our patients," he said.

There's that private rationing again. In all the rhetoric the Tea Party people throw out about the bureaucrat rationing care, there's no mention in their talking points about the corporate bureaucrat rationing care. They have no solution for it, because there's no accountability required by health insurance companies other than to their shareholders.

When there are problems with Medicare (ex. The Donut Hole), Congress is forced to deal with it or face the ire of their constituents. One would think the very Tea Party slamming the health care bill at town hall after town hall would prefer to have someone they could directly deal with as opposed to a faceless claims processor at an insurance company.

The problem with that statement is that it makes sense. As so much of the debate has proven so far, making sense is less important than scoring points for the press and donors. Obviously, there are legitimate concerns and questions about the proposed overhaul, but when people are circulating memos on how disrupt instead of engage in the conversation, we're not going to get anywhere.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Spinning Tea

While our Representative Scott Garrett distorted numbers recently to scare people about health care reform, the Tea Party people are going from distortion to flat out lies. This is a long post, but if the mainstream media isn't going to do this, someone has to.

It's been well publicized at this point that those who are part of the Tea Party movement are packing town hall meetings to disrupt instead of discuss health care reform. There are legitimate concerns about the proposal, but the tactics being used by these folks not only drowns out those with legitimate concerns, but also discredits the very views they're supposed to be standing for and makes their opposition seem baseless.

As Blue Jersey predicted, the NJ Tea Party group is attempting to get members to Representative Steve Rothman's recess town hall meetings. To encourage members, and fire them up, they sent out an e-mail recently. With the miracle of the searchable PDF, anyone willing to ask "is that true" can go through the e-mail and shred it.

(A note, I've cut and pasted straight from the e-mail, grammatical and spelling errors are strictly the tea party people's fault)
You know the provisions of the public healthcare plan contain concerning features including the following:

You will not be able to keep your private plan (no matter what they say, it’s in the bill).
Where, exactly? That's the question that any thinking person should ask. People point to Section 102, because it prevents new enrollments in plans that don't meet the minimum requirements of coverage. This has no impact on people's current insurance.

In fact, had the Tea Party people scrolled down they would have seen Section 112, where insurance companies are required to renew grandfathered plans. Your coverage is protected as long as you pay for it. But obviously, that reality doesn't help the opposition's fund raising, so I'm sure the oversight was intentional.
Seniors will be compelled to attend counseling every five years to receive information on how to end one’s life with dignity --- this is code for you’re not going to get the surgery or drugs you need, so end your life sooner ---this is the culture of death.
It's amazing the Tea Party people would rather have seniors be uninformed and not know what their options are. Section 1233 absolutely wants people to know about living wills and medical proxies, options and resources regarding palliative care and hospice, and resources available in the state in which the patient lives.
Health care costs will be passed along to you in the form of increased taxes, or loss of jobs due to small employers having to eliminate jobs to pay the additional 8% on their payroll….think of it 20 employees making an average of 50,000 annual salary = $80,000 to that small employer in tax……that employer has to eliminate two jobs for every 20 people to stay even.
What they leave out in this section is that the tax only applies if the small business does not already provide benefits. If benefits are provided, there's no tax. So no one working a job at a small company that provides benefits has anything to worry about in terms of taxes costing them their job.
You will pay for all families – illegal aliens too.
This is the only true statement in the whole thing. Yes, everybody else will be paying for you.

Also, where people get the delusional thought that we don't already pay for illegal aliens is beyond me. This is true, and it will always be true whether we have private or public care. When people show up to an emergency room or the equivalent they are going to get treated and then we bill whatever national plan they're under.
You will also have your tax dollars funded toward abortions even if you are opposed to that form of birth control. That means also late term abortions…up to the day before birth!
Partial birth abortions are illegal, and whoever wrote this e-mail is intentionally misleading people. It also ignores the fact that the committee votes prevent any abortion funding.

I haven't written a post this long in a long time, but the health care debate is too important to let small groups of people using misrepresentation and intimidation to disrupt what is a vital discussion. I realize there's not a lot of money to be raised by the special interests by being truthful and having a meaningful conversation, but that's what we need right now.

There's a lot of good in this bill, but it could be a bit better. There are also good ideas that have come out of the Republican party, like allowing churches and industry groups pool together, that get drowned out by the Tea Party people.

Whether you're for or against the health care reform as presented, arguing your points needs to be based in fact. Otherwise, what may be a very good idea will either be dismissed or missed because someone decided to be disruptive instead of constructive.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Garrett's Big Day

Representative Scott Garrett is going to have a big day today. H.R. 3269 is on the floor, which is going to give shareholders a greater say in compensation packages and disclose their incentives. As by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, Garrett is on a mission to stop this from happening.

Garrett has introduced an amendment that's now being debated to basically re-write the entire bill. You can watch the proceedings on CSPAN.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

250K Cars Sold

The news tonight that the fabled Cash for Clunkers program is out of money, less than a month after being passed and three days after applications began being accepted, is a good thing.

From the New York Times:
About a quarter-million vehicles were sold under the program, which offered payments of $3,500 to $4,500 for people who traded in old cars for new ones that had higher fuel economy. The average payment worked out to about $4,000, and the total payout, about $1 billion, the amount allocated by Congress under the program, formally called the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS.

Republicans like our Representative Scott Garrett who voted against the program the first and second time should take heart: A tax incentive for real people actually worked.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garrett's Hiring

For those looking to work for Representative Scott Garrett, or a Conservative in Washington in general, this could be your chance:
Legislative Assistant - Congressman Scott Garrett has an opening for a Legislative Assistant handling a variety of issues including Foreign Affairs, Environment and Energy. A successful candidate will have a strong conservative philosophy, be a self-starter, able to manage multiple projects at the same time and perform well under tight deadlines. Strong writing and analytical skills are a must. Please email a cover letter, writing sample and resume to

Monday, July 27, 2009

Garrett helps Corzine

Representative Scott Garrett and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (a Republican) are not the closest of friends, at least in the media. I had written about one dust up two years ago between Garrett and the unapologetic moderate. Recently, they revisited their "good will" toward each other. From The Hill:
LaHood got into a heated argument over the $787 economic stimulus package Friday with Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.) while offering testimony to the House Budget Committee.

The debate was related to attempts by some Republican governors to refuse stimulus money, and ended up with LaHood offering praise to New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Jon Corzine, who faces an uphill reelection battle this year.


"Sen. Kyl is not in charge of the money, congressman," LaHood told Garrett. "The governor is. I wanted to be sure that the governor was not in the same line of thinking."

When Garrett wondered whether his state would receive a similar letter, LaHood backed Corzine, the embattled New Jersey governor, noting that he had secured millions in stimulus funding from Congress. Corzine this year is facing a tough re-election race against Republican Chris Christie.

"Your governor has been a real leader in this, by the way," LaHood said during an exchange in which the two former GOP conference members talked over one another.
Garrett and his people were so pleased by the exchange, they made a video of it and put the testimony up on Garrett's YouTube Page:

By Garrett persisting as he did, and feeling it was worth posting, Governor Corzine was able to get this nice little web video made:

Nothing like a respected moderate Republican sitting and giving sworn testimony that a Democratic Governor has created jobs during an election year. Corzine should probably call and thank Garrett.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Our Unbelievable State

We should all be embarrassed about the corruption busts yesterday.

Jason Springer of Blue Jersey did a nice job rounding up all of the video clips he could in this post.

Google has about 1,700 stories up about the busts. They also seemed to make the front page of every newspaper in the region and those with national distribution.

Garrett and the Tea Baggers

The Ridgewood Blog put up a video of Representative Scott Garrett addressing the Tea Party folks before the Fourth of July parade in Ridgewood. It was a nice chance for him to talk about his Constitutional Caucus:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Garrett's Health Care Funny Numbers

Here we go again.

Representative Scott Garrett's streak of not misrepresenting numbers has officially come to an end. In this week's Garrett Gazette, the full court press to scare people out of us becoming more competitive with the world by implementing a better health insurance system stepped it up a notch on the spin cycle.
The health care plan proposed by the Democrats will cost American families more than $1,000,000,000,000, and yet will cause as many as 114 million individuals to lose their current coverage under the bill, according to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group.
Sounds scary. Not only does Garrett fail to acknowledge much of the $1 trillion is already in the system, and would be shifted as opposed to being new costs; by Garrett's statement our number of uninsured would climb to 162 million. There would be no debating that would be awful, if that's actually what Lewin said.

However, if you look at the testimony, this is what they said:
Beginning in the third year, the newly established “Health Choices Commissioner” would be permitted to extend eligibility to include all employers. If the plan is opened to individuals and all employers, the number of people in the public plan would rise to 122.9 million people. Private coverage would decline by about 113.5 million people.
That's right. If the public option was made available to all individuals and employers 113.5 million would shift the way they're covered, not lose it. Why would so many people shift? Because they're choosing the lower cost option.

By entering a larger insurance pool without a profit motive, costs would drop for those who choose it. It's how insurance plans are supposed to work.

If people wanted Cadillac plans they could still get them. The thought of people actually having the freedom to choose to not to get ripped off is why former insurance lawyer Garrett and others who back the industry are fighting so hard to scare the hell out of people, and spending over $1.4 million a day to lobby Congress. They're terrified because they know if people have an honest choice, they will in fact choose the lower cost.

It never ceases to disgust me to see how untruthful the politics of health reform gets. The status quo advocates have a simple playbook: Misrepresent as much as possible to scare the hell out of people.

The debate over costs is being worked out in a pretty transparent and straight forward way by the Blue Dogs. Unfortunately, Garrett's type of argument doesn't serve as a productive addition to the discussion. It just stirs up misinformed rage.

Garrett should stick with the Financial Services sub-committee and leave health care to those whose voice can actually be heard and genuinely want us to stop having a competitive disadvantage to other nations.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Discharge H. Res. 554

With the health care debate raging, now is the time for Congress to implement the rules change being pushed by the good people at the Sunlight Foundation via

H. Res. 554 was reported to committee on June 17th, with no action since. Here's what the Resolution does:
Amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to require that legislation
and conference reports be available on the Internet for 72 hours
before consideration by the House, and for other purposes.
As crucial as it is that we pass health care reform, it is equally crucial that we do it right. And even if it's employed by the Blue Dog Democrats and the Republicans as a delay tactic, a discharge petition for H. Res 554 may be in order.

The discharge petition would get the bill out of the rules committee and on to the floor for a vote. I'd fully support Representative Scott Garrett if they got the petition voted on and passed, because that's how important it is that the health bill is done right and in full view of the public.

It's been clear for some time when bills are rushed is when lobbyist and special interest provisions are inserted. While the perfect can't be the enemy of the good, if we're not careful, the largest reform in many of our lifetimes could turn into something much less than good.

Although this bill seems to reverse many examples of recent history of rushed bills gone wrong (ex. Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Donut Hole), when bills come out of committee without review there's no way to guess what other things may have been inserted.

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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Garrett Backer Busted

Since coming to Congress, Representative Scott Garrett has been the darling of the American Conservative Union, receiving a 100 percent rating from the group for the duration of his career. Garrett even acknowledges their stance on issues when explaining his own, most recently with regard to the Cap and Trade Bill. As it turns out, they're simply a corrupt money making proposition.

Politico delivered the bombshell:
The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s support in a bitter legislative dispute, then the group’s chairman flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.
To make it even better, Politico posted the letter on-line. Here's a part of the letter from the ACU:
Through our projects and activities, we support and defend the doctrine of original intent of the framers of the Constitution, and we support America’s businesses and entrepreneurs. We are proud to promote the principles of capitalism and the pursuit of the American dream.


For the activist contact portion of the plan we will contact over 150,000 people per state multiple times at a cost of $1.39 per name or $2,147,550 to implement the entire program.


If we incorporate the targeted, Senator-personalized radio effort into the plan, you can figure an additional $125,000 on average, per state.
Adding the radio, ACU was basically shaking down Fed Ex for $3.4 million. When they didn't pony up, they went with UPS. Of course they deny that now.

One would like to believe after Conservatives got burned by Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff, when they turned out Christians against gambling while being funded by competing casinos, they wouldn't be duped by such systematic fraud. However, the ACU seemed confident they could do this.

That said, the folks over at Sean Hannity's forum are talking about this:
Yes, but the services offered actually took the price tag up to 3.5 million (charges such as $1.39 per name email contacts). The fact that a supposed advocacy group was basically selling their endorsement of a specific issue is ridiculous. What next? Another million if they keyvoted it?


They are (were) a pretty damned big deal as far as congressional rankings went especially. If the ACU keyvotes a subject, a lot of people jump.
Key votes are the ones that Garrett's reputation as a 100% voter are based on. As mentioned earlier, Garrett mentions them in his official communications. He also mentions them in his fund raising appeals. If it ever comes to light they've been selling key vote status, there will be even more hell to pay for Garrett and the others that place this organization so highly in their own communications.

If Garrett releases a statement on any of this I'll post it in full.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Full Text of Obama's Speech

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. It is good to see you. Hello, New Jersey! (Applause.) All right, everybody have a seat. Everybody have a seat. I want to begin by just making a few acknowledgements. First of all, I'm going to have a lot to say about this guy, but I just want everybody to know that one of my earliest supporters, somebody who had faith and confidence in me before I was a United States senator was the man standing next to me right here -- Jon Corzine. (Applause.) And so it is a special honor to be with him.

I've got a couple other friends I want to quickly acknowledge. Larry Cohen is around here somewhere. CWA -- right here. We appreciate you, Larry. (Applause.) President of the Communication Workers. We've got a couple of outstanding mayors -- the Pride of Newark, Cory Booker is here. (Applause.) There's Cory in the back. And we've also got the Pride of Jersey City, Jeremiah Healy. (Applause.)

I want to just say a little something at the top. As many of you may have heard, five officers were shot in the line of duty in Jersey City. Jeremiah -- I just saw him; we just discussed it. He may already be on his way back. Obviously we are watching this closely. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all the officers who have been hurt. And we are confident they are going to end up coming back strong as ever. But it's a reminder for all of us of the incredible sacrifice that our law enforcement officials engage in, and their families are part of, each and every day. So I hope everybody keeps them in their thoughts and prayers in the days to come. (Applause.)

It is great to be back in New Jersey. I'm proud to stand with a man who wakes up every single day thinking about your future and the future of this state -- and that's your governor, Jon Corzine. (Applause.)

Like many of us in public life today, Jon is a leader who's been called to govern at some extraordinary times. He's been tested by the worst recession in half a century -- a recession that was caused by years of recklessness and irresponsibility, and obviously had a disproportionate impact here in New Jersey, given the closeness of the financial sector to the state.

Part of the crisis was caused by the same small thinking that's plagued our politics for decades -- the kind of thinking that says we can afford to tinker around with big problems, put off tough decisions, defer the big challenges, tell people only what they want to hear.

That's not the kind of leader Jon Corzine is. He didn't run for this office on the promise that change would be easy, and he certainly has not avoided what is hard. This isn't somebody who's here because of some special interest or political machine -- he's here because he cares about what happens to the people of New Jersey.

This is a man who has provided more property tax relief than any other governor in New Jersey's history. (Applause.) This is the first governor in 60 years who has reduced the size of government. At the same time, this is also a leader who has stood up against those who wanted to cut what matters, like education. Jon Corzine has not only protected funding for New Jersey's schools, he's reformed them with higher standards, and now students in this state rank at the top of the country in reading and math. That's a testimony to Jon Corzine's leadership. (Applause.)

Since Jon Corzine became governor, the Children's Health Insurance Program has been expanded to reach 80,000 more children -- 80,000 who got health insurance who did not have it before. New Jersey has become a leader in clean energy. And Jon Corzine wasn't just the first governor to pass an economic recovery plan for his state; he was an ally in helping the federal government, my administration, develop the national recovery plan.

And because of these recovery plans, jobs have been saved and created throughout the state of New Jersey -- jobs of cops and teachers; jobs in small businesses and clean energy companies. Unemployment insurance and health insurance has been extended to those who have felt the brunt of this recession, who lost their jobs. Tax relief has been delivered to families and small businesses. Ninety-five percent of working families have already received tax relief as a consequence of our recovery plan. And I can promise you that more help is on the way in the weeks and months to come.

Now, I realize this is little comfort to those who have lost a job in this recession. Some of you know people who've lost jobs, or maybe you're -- worried about losing their home or can't afford their health insurance anymore. I realize that some of the progress that's been made doesn't help some folks who need to pay their bills and have fallen deeply behind. And I'll be honest with you -- even though jobs have always been one of the last things that come back in a recession, some of the jobs that have been lost may not come back.

The fact is, even before this crisis hit, we had an economy that was creating a good deal of wealth for the folks at the very top, but not a lot of good-paying jobs for the rest of America. It's an economy that wasn't built to compete in the 21st century. It was one where we spend more on health care than any other nation but aren't any healthier; where we've been slow to invest in clean energy technologies that have created new jobs and new industries in other countries because we've been slow to take up the call of clean energy. We had an economy where we've watched our graduation rates lag behind too much of the world. We used to be at the very top, number one, in college graduation rates. We aren't anymore; we're in the middle of the pack.

But that was the America of yesterday. That doesn't have to be the America of tomorrow. That must not be the America our children inherit. (Applause.) You see, what we're facing right now is more than a passing crisis. It's a transformative moment that's led this nation to an unmistakable crossroads. We've got some choices and decisions we've got to make -- right here in Washington -- in Washington and right here in Trenton.

Now, there are some in New Jersey, some in Washington, some all across the country, who want us to go down the path we've already traveled for most of the last decade -- the path where we just throw up our hands and say, "We can't do anything about health care. It's too tough. We can't do anything about energy -- too hard" -- where we do nothing but hand out more tax breaks to the wealthiest few that make the rich richer and the deficit even larger, and leave ordinary people in the lurch. That's one path. It's a path where our health care costs keep rising and our oil dependency keeps on growing, where our financial markets remain an unregulated crapshoot, and our workers lose out on the jobs of tomorrow.

But that's not the future I accept for the United States of America. That's not the future that Jon Corzine accepts for the United States of America. That's not the future you accept for the United States of America. (Applause.) We are going to set a new course for this nation, and it's going to start right here in New Jersey. (Applause.)

We did not come as far as a country as we have because we've spent all our time looking backwards, or because we stood still in the face of great challenges and said "No, we can't." We didn't get here by lowering our sights or diminishing our dreams. We are a forward-looking people -- a people who have always faced the future not with fear, but with determination; not with doubt, but with hope. We've always taken great chances, and reached for new horizons, and remade the world around us.

And that's what we must do again. I am absolutely confident that we will weather this economic storm. But once we clear away the wreckage, the real question is: What are we going to build in its place?

Even as we rescue this economy from this crisis, I believe we have to rebuild an even better economy than we had before. We're going to have to lay a new foundation that will allow this country to thrive and compete in the global economy. And that means investing in the clean energy jobs of the future. That means educating and training our workers for those jobs. That means finally controlling the health care costs that are driving this nation into debt. (Applause.)

When it comes to these issues, the naysayers seem to think that we can somehow just keep on doing what we've been doing and expect a different outcome. We can't. And everywhere we go, I meet Americans who know that we can't. They know change isn't easy. They know there will be setbacks and false starts. And I love some of our opponents who stand up and say, "Look, it's been six months and you haven't solved the economy yet." (Laughter.) The American people know better than that.

Here is what they also know: We're at a rare moment where we've been given the opportunity to remake our world; a chance to seize our future. And as difficult as it sometimes is, what is inherent about the American spirit is the fact that we don't cling to the past in this country. We always move forward. And that movement doesn't begin in Washington -- it begins with you. It happens because the American people decide it's time to move forward; because you decide it's time for change; because you're willing to face the future without fear. And if you do that now, then we will not only reelect Jon Corzine so he can keep on fighting for families here in New Jersey, but we will do what earlier generations have done and build something better to leave to our children and secure our future in the 21st century.

We are counting on you. And I'm absolutely confident that the American people are going to meet the test.

Thank you, everybody. God bless you.