Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Her Party Now

With Republicans voting in Michael Steele as it's new chairman, somewhere Gov. Christie Whitman is smiling. Steele and Whitman worked together on the Repulican Leadership Council to give classic conservatives and moderates who were maginalized within the Republican Party a voice.

I've often written about how the moderates, like Senator Susan Collins, have been attacked from within. Now, with Steele on board, the hope has got to be Republicans will get back to basics. Steele's quote to those who want to continue trying to build the Republican brand through exclusion was perfect:

To those who don't want to be part of Mr. Steele's inclusive party, he warned: "Get ready to get knocked over."

The simple fact is, there are more moderates in this nation than there are liberals or conservatives. Sure, there are differences of opinion between the role of government that is the hallmark difference between the parties, but by and large most of us just want things to work.

While it's too early to tell if the tone will change, it's a good start. At the very least, Steele has a sense of humor. Steele had my favorite campaign ad of the 2006 cycle.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Feeling Stimulated?

As expected, Representative Scott Garrett voted against the stimulus package yesterday. What was surprising, at least to me, was that so did the entire Republican delegation. Maybe it was a case of being political sore losers; or maybe all of the Democrats touting the "we won" mentality hurt their feelings. Or maybe both.

Granted, this is only the first vote and we won't know what the actual stimulus package is going to look for a couple of weeks, but it's kind of a tragic statement on politics that they're all still acting like a bunch of seventh graders down there. Symbolic vote or not, it really was a bad example for all of those new to politics. More than anything else, America voted for not only a change in policies but a change in tone.

There's no proof the stimulus will work. We'd like to think it would, but there's no proof. People talk about the jobs it will create and the money that will flow back into the economy, but unless people spend their money on made in the USA products it's little more than a one off.

Then there's the matter of corruption and waste. Herb Jackson over at the Record did a great write-up on what New Jersey would be getting from the bailout. One giant red flag for all of us should be the $420 million that will go into the coffers of the at times corrupt and often wasteful New Jersey School Construction Corporation. That's just one example, but it's something we'll have to be vigilant over. Pouring money we're borrowing from ourselves into corrupted hands won't help recovery.

Granted, President Obama will attempt to use to help us see where the money is going, but as with the money we've poured into the quicksand in Iraq, knowing it's gone and getting it back are two different things. I don't know how many people they're going to staff it with, but our state alone will probably need a small army to watch over and report on the progress and use of our funds.

I hope the eventual package works, I really do. I just wish that the politics of it all could be put aside. Democrats being boastful and Republicans pouting isn't going to solve our economic crisis.

We need the best solutions, no matter where they come from.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Garrett Makes a Funny

Last night, Representative Scott Garrett took to the floor to explain all of the reasons he doesn't like the Democrats' Stimulus package. During the exchange with Rep. Gingrey, Garrett made a bit of a joke at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's expense:
We could have our new Treasury secretary, if he wanted to, he could go out and buy a TurboTax for every American in this country so those people would be able to figure out how their taxes are done and make sure that they pay their right taxes. That is what we basically granted when we passed last Wednesday an additional $350 billion, again, over my objection, and I believe over your objection as well, when that TARP bill went through.
For those that had missed it, one of Geithner's excuses for not paying his taxes was that he had used TurboTax.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Garrett and the Obama Summit

Depending on which press account you read, Representative Scott Garrett was either optimistic or dismissive of President Obama's visit with Republicans today regarding the stimulus package.

From CQ Politics:

Several participants, including Scott Garrett of New Jersey, reported that Obama said he would be open to a corporate tax rate cut if it was coupled with the elimination of tax loopholes. “It’s the beginning of a dialog,” Garrett said. “I was pleased to hear he would consider a corporate rate cut.”

Ah, closing loopholes. In the past Garrett and the Republican Caucus have opposed doing that, but maybe just maybe, this time will be different.

Less optimistic sounding, the accounts from Herb Jackson of the Record and Jessica Coomes of the Express Times. From Jackson:
He specifically cited $200 million to re-sod the National Mall in Washington, $600 million for federal vehicles and $1.3 billion to upgrade computer systems for state and federal agencies.

"Some of the projects listed in this bill are certainly worthy of government funding, but let's not masquerade these projects as a stimulus," Garrett, R-Wantage, said in a statement released after the meeting. "Stimulus is not an excuse to expand government programs. Stimulus means the economy will grow."
The shopping list isn't unique to Garrett, Rep. John Boehner pointed to the sod on Meet the Press on Sunday. Granted, there are a bunch of things in the proposal that should go into the regular appropriations process; but Republicans arguing that $600 million in auto production wouldn't help the economy is a bit disingenuous.

On the other hand, Democrats really need to prioritize these projects based on ROI in terms of jobs. There definitely seems to be a number of large ticket items that will only employ a handful of people relative to our need, and should go through appropriations (ex. NASA research). As Garrett noted, not that they're not important, just not "Emergency Stimulus" in my opinion.

Unfortunately, even though both sides are talking about bi-partisanship, it doesn't seem that they're working that well together at this point. We'll see, though, there's still time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Garrett Gets More Bailout Press

Representative Scott Garrett was quoted earlier today by the AP regarding the bailout bonanza down in Washington:
"It's not going to be the most efficient" institution that gets the rescue money, said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., a member of the House Financial Services Committee who voted against the bailout bill. "It's going to turn out to be whoever has the best lobbyists and the biggest clout."

Garrett Moves Office

Somehow I missed this, but Representative Scott Garrett has moved his office from Paramus to Glen Rock. Here's the current information:

266 Harristown Rd, Suite 104
Glen Rock, NJ 07452.
Phone: (201) 444-5454
Fax: (201) 444-5488

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Garrett on Abortion

Update: I've posted the Youtube Video prior to the text.

As has been his habit, Representative Scott Garrett took to the floor to talk about abortion as part of his observance/opposition to Roe v. Wade. If Garrett spoke at today's March for Life, I'll post whatever media is available.

In the meantime, here's Garrett's floor speech from last night:

And I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for your leadership on this issue today and in the past so much and in the future as well.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I also hail from the great State of New Jersey; and tonight I would like to begin tonight by talking about a women who lived there, who had lived there in Tenafly, a town in my congressional district. You may have heard her name before. In fact, she is commemorated in a sculpture located right here in the rotunda of this building.

I am talking about Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Ms. Stanton was a leading social activist of her time and a champion of the women's suffrage movement. As a proponent of women's rights, some might assume she supported a women's ability to have an abortion. No.

Ms. Stanton actually took the opposite view. In a letter in 1873 written to Julia Ward Howe, who was a prominent abolitionist, she wrote ``When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.''

She called abortion then what it was then and today as well, infanticide. Today, over 100 years later, women, of course, have won that battle of the women's suffrage movement and the right to vote, but we still allow some unborn infants to be classified as simply, with what she called it, unwanted nuisances and to be killed. You know, permitting this hypocrisy is really a promotion, you might say, of age-based discrimination, and I believe Ms. Stanton would be appalled to know that it continues today.

After all, murder is a direct violation of the very same rights that she was fighting for back then and as proposed by our Founding Fathers in original documents. You know, as the chairman of the Constitution Caucus, I have pledged to fight for the liberties recognized by our Founding Fathers. But I know, realistically, that we will have tough battles ahead in this term and years ahead on many different fronts.

The first skirmish will likely be waged in the executive branch. One of the executive orders that President Bush stated in his Mexico City Policy, and what it does is to ban U.S. funds from going to nongovernmental agencies that provide abortion services overseas. Now, just last week, I joined Representative Lamborn and other Members of Congress in sending a letter at that time to President-elect Obama urging him to uphold that policy when he comes into office.

Now, the second combat zone is right here in this U.S. Congress. Now, due to the successful efforts of past legislators, particularly former Congressman Henry Hyde, Federal funds could not be used to pay for abortions. However, Members who support abortions will likely, very likely, seek to erode these key restrictions

As bad as it is, fortunately, not all congressional clashes are on the offensive. So I applaud efforts of Members who have introduced legislation to protect the health of young mothers and restrict the number of abortions performed here in the United States.

Just today, I signed on, and I am proud to do so, of the original cosponsor of Mr. Jordan's bill, which is the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act; Ms. Ros-Lehtinen's Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act; and Mr. Pence's, who was just speaking, Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.

Thankfully, the battle for the unborn is not waged merely here in the Capitol, in the Congress, in the Executive, the walls of the White House, or the halls here of the Congress, or even at the desks across the street at the Supreme Court Justices. The main struggle is fought in the towns and suburbs and cities across this United States.

Many Americans strive to promote life by supporting young mothers who cannot afford to raise their child. They do this by adopting children who do not have a home or a parent. They counsel men and women who chose to abort and now experience the very deep depression and regret.

Just closing, just yesterday, I thought for a split second that our new President would seek to protect this innocent life as well. As I listened to his inaugural address, I heard him say, and I quote, ``All are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.'' It seems that President Obama really believes that some people are just too young or too small to deserve such rights or privileges.

Perhaps the new President should study the position of one of his predecessors, John Quincy Adams. Adams once wrote, ``Americans, ask the Declaration of Independence and it will tell you that its authors held for self-evident truth that the right to life is the first of the unalienable rights of man, and that to secure and not destroy that right, that is the reason the governments have been created.''

So, as I stand here as an elected official in this government, I pledge, along with my colleagues from New Jersey, and across this country, to follow John Adams' footsteps and uphold our basic fundamental right. For without this fundamental right, all other freedoms in this Nation shall perish.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Witnessing History

First things first, I need to thank Representative Scott Garrett and staff for even making this post possible. I honestly couldn't believe I ended up with a ticket for the Inauguration, but I did.

So here are a few pictures I took on this amazing day:
This is as I'm getting out of the Metro at about 5:15 AM.

The sun coming up by Blue Gate. At this point, I had no feeling in my toes. Other than that, things were great.

Getting ready to head in, wearing my newly minted hat.

Getting settled...

President Obama arriving...

The Oath and Address

You can see him, center of the picture.

The crowd as I'm heading out
President Bush flying away

Thursday, January 15, 2009

So, I've started a new website:

It's a Wiki intended to let people find products large and small that are Made in the USA.

The idea is that we need to get back to basics. People look back at the 80's as a glorious time economically. Republicans, particularly will point to Reagan's tax cuts as the cause. While that can be debated by economists, one thing was certain, there was a push for Made in the USA products. The demand created the jobs that fueled the economy.

So, this is my little effort to help a bit. We'll see if it catches on. Personally, I like how easy it is to use (especially on the Blackberry when standing in the store). Give it a spin and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Garrett Authors Alternative Stimulus

Representative Scott Garrett has answered the call of Representative Eric Cantor to introduce alternative economic stimulus packages. As with Garrett's previous piece, there is a 10% tax cut for corporations. However, this piece seems to be a vast improvement over his last set of proposals, including more tax cuts for families and individuals.

There's been a ton of press already, but The National Review lists off some of the things most people would agree are a good idea:
— An increase in the child tax credit from $1,000 to $5,000.
— An increase in the deduction for college expenses from $4,000 to $6,000,
and in the income threshold at which the deduction can be taken.
— An end to mandatory IRA withdrawals at age 70 1/2.
— The plan would also let people of any age draw down their IRA money
without taxes or penalties in calendar 2009.

The only big issue with this is what it does to the deficit. Garrett "pays" for the program with a 1% cut across the board on non-defense discretionary spending. Depending on whether or not War on Terror funds are included, this cut represents a savings between $4 to $6 billion. The corporate tax cut could reduce revenues upwards of $30 billion alone.

While the math may not add up now, Garrett adding more than simply corporate tax cuts to his proposal shows he's taken heed of the criticisms leveled at his last effort. It's a positive step forward for our Congressman, and I wouldn't be surprised to see several of these proposals included in President-Elect Obama's final proposal.

Will Garrett Be Full of SCHIP again?

Update: The SCHIP expansion was approved, and it was a 12 to Garrett vote among the New Jersey Delegation.

It sounds like the SCHIP expansion legislation may come to a vote today. The Courier Post gives a nice summary of the program:
It is meant to enroll children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor, but too little to afford private health insurance if employer-provided coverage is unavailable.

Those of you who have been reading for a while got to witness me shred Representative Scott Garrett for his misrepresentations of the truth and flat out lies about what the program does and who it serves.

Now, as expanding SCHIP will likely sail to passage yet again; we have to expect Garrett to vote no, again.

Garrett is philosophically opposed to SCHIP, which he has the right to be. Unfortunately, Garrett used falsehoods and fear to try and get people to see things his way. Basically, he and his colleagues attacked children using lies.

The question is what, if any, explanation or speech he will give when he votes no this time. Garrett has replaced key staff since 2007, and the hope is they won't stuff him full of bad information. The greater hope is that he won't regurgitate the bad information he received last time. We'll have to see, but for the quarter of a million families on SCHIP, it should be comforting that Garrett will once again be in the minority.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Garrett's Big Break

As those that follow the news know by now, Representative Scott Garrett has been named the Ranking Member (aka Vice Chairman) on the sub-committee that oversees the credit markets, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The official title of the Committee is the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises.

It seems that the political capital he got during the first bailout bill, and continued to build with the subsequent hand outs has paid off for him. It should be interesting to watch what Garrett does with this opportunity.

Garrett's made no secret of the fact he'd like to see the GSE's broken up, and more deregulation in the insurance and credit market sectors of our economy. Regardless of whether he can get any traction on these beliefs, being the Ranking Member will let him speak longer at hearings and likely get more invitations to speak with the press.

If nothing else, that will give me more source material.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Heal Thyself...

Happy New Year! To say I've been working so hard I didn't know what's going on is an understatement; my mother told me Eric Mangini was fired, and I'm fairly certain she didn't know who he was until he was fired.

However, now that I'm coming out of the blur, it's nice to know some things haven't changed. Representative Scott Garrett took to the House floor last night with several other Republicans to lay out their economic recovery plan.

Here it is: Heal Thyself.

Here's part of what Garrett said:
Finally, she made a good point as well, and I will close on this, market, heal thyself, is what she said. Likewise here, whether it's the credit market, the financial market or the unemployment market, we can allow the private sector, with the assist of the government getting out of the way for the market to heal thyself in those situations as well in the appropriate manner.

Now, I'm not in favor of forking over tons of taxpayer cash to CEOs who ran their companies into the ground; but doing nothing really can't be considered an option either.

The idea that the real economy functions in the ideological vacuum some seem to believe in is a bit dangerous. The government is going to have to address the lobbyist written tax policies that helped create this mess. The government is going to have to get it's own house in order in terms of waste and abuse of taxpayers. The government is going to have to figure out a way to undo the education, health care, and trade policies that have put us at a competitive disadvantage.

"Heal thyself" is a bit simplistic for what we face. My hope is that Garrett won't stick his head in the sand on this one, and actually play a constructive part. We'll have to see.

Bailouts, no. Smart, real world policy, yes.