Author Archive: Wyka press office

Better bailout plan for Detroit and America

A  Better Bailout Plan

For years now, the Big Three automakers have been unable to produce cars competitively, largely because they have to buy their employees’ and retiree’s healthcare through private insurance whereas workers in all other industrialized nations are covered by cost-effective national healthcare plans. Even the foreign manufacturers who produce here undercut Detroit by recruiting a younger, healthier workforce.

Now that the bottom has dropped out of the market, the Big Three are facing certain bankruptcy and need a bailout, possibly for loans to fund the $51 billion they owe to the VEBAs they promised to set up for their retiree’s healthcare. However, the VEBAs will purchase health insurance through private, for-profit, higher cost providers as compared to Medicare, with only a 3% overhead.

Before dumping billions of taxpayer dollars onto Management and stockholders, wouldn’t it far better to nullify the VEBA’s and to allow the UAW workers and retirees to be the first to enroll in a program based on the Conyers-Kucinich Bill (H.R. 676), an expanded Medicare with no premiums, no deductibles, no co-pays, and no hassles. Like Social Security, the H.R. 676 program would be funded by a payroll tax of 4.5% from employers and 3.3% from employees.

Will this save money for Detroit? You bet. It will immediately cut thousands per car and truck off unit costs while requiring only incremental and smaller taxpayer assistance.  If we’re going to bail out the Big Three, let’s do it in a way that solves a real problem that is strangling U.S. manufacturing; the burden of private health insurance.  

Wyka Outshines Frelinghuysen on Internet

Parsippany, October 29–Even though Frelinghuysen has raised far more money than Wyka in this election cycle, Wyka has by far the stronger presence on the video-hosting Web sites such as, largely because of videos produced by volunteers and by members of the public with no connection to his campaign.

Wyka says, “Frelinghuysen’s campaign is money-powered, mine is people-powered. His supporters tend to be corporate interests who cut big checks. My supporters are middle-class people who make smaller donations but roll up their sleeves and work for the campaign. They’ve been making phone calls and knocking on doors. Some of them have made videos.”

The following link shows videos related to the search term “Wyka” on Youtube:…

Some of the videos on YouTube were produced for the 2006 campaign but are still timely. Others were produced for this election. Still others are clips from public forums and debates.

An independent journalist with no connection to the Wyka campaign made a videorecording of the entire October 26 debate and made it available via the Internet ( A videorecording of part of a debate from 2006 is also available via the Internet (

In the videos, Wyka speaks about issues such as campaign finance reform, healthcare reform, support for U.S. troops and veterans, and support for the middle class. Other videos cover Frelinghuysen’s record on veterans and the environment, among other issues.

Wyka says, “I have always believed in what Thomas Jefferson said, that an informed democracy will behave responsibly. So it’s good that private citizens are videotaping public debates and making them available to everyone with Internet access. It’s what the First Amendment is all about.”


Wyka “Whistle Stop Tour” on Morris & Essex Train Line

Tom Wyka took the 6:33 a.m. Morris & Essex Train from Dover to Summit on Tuesday to talk to voters about public transit and a green economy. Wyka for Congress volunteers were at the stations to hand out literature to commuters who were waiting for the train. Wyka, a Democrat from Parsippany, is challenging 7-term incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen for New Jersey’s 11th district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Diane Burns, of Hanover Township, wore a full-size Wyka for Congress lawn sign hung on a cord around her neck “which caught people’s eye. I just said, ‘Here is information about Tom Wyka, who is running for Congress in our district. He will be riding on your train this morning introducing himself to people, and answering any questions you may have.’ All but one person took the flyer.”

Geoffrey Thomas of Madison was handing out literature at the Madison train station. “You can’t really expect to have a political discussion with many people before 7 in the morning, especially on a cold rainy day like today, but most people accepted the literature to read on the train. Several people said that they knew about Wyka and are going to vote for him.”

Eric Carlson, a Wyka for Congress volunteer from Harding Township who rode the train with Wyka, said, “A few commuters huddled together waiting for the train to New York in the dark, on the cold and rainy morning were asked by Wyka what their biggest worry was, and they answered in chorus ‘MONEY!’ Tom Wyka cheered some folks up, and received a few smiles, after explaining that they had a choice for a change come November. For some, it was an easy sell once they realized that Tom Wyka was running on the same ticket as Obama.”

Public transit development is an important part of the new “green” economy that Wyka advocates. Wyka says, “When it comes to energy efficiency, nothing beats electrified rail transit. This year, a lot more people have wanted to ride the train. But New Jersey Transit has actually been cutting service, because of budget problems. When we can’t afford to do the single most effective thing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and avoid global climate change, it shows that our government hasn’t been spending our money on the right kinds of things. So far, the taxpayers in this district are stuck with a bill of $3.2 billion for the Iraq War. Just think of what we could have done locally to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil for that amount!” According to recent estimates from the National Priorities Project (, taxpayers in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District will pay $3.2 billion for total Iraq war spending approved to date.



Veterans to Rally at Fort Nonsense to Protest Frelinghuysen’s “Nonsense”

Parsippany, October 22-Veterans of the U.S. armed forces will be rallying at Fort Nonsense, in Morristown, New Jersey, on Saturday, October 25, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. to protest the voting record of Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R, NJ-11) in the United States House of Representatives.

According to a recent scorecard issued by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Frelinghuysen scored only 10 out of a possible 15 points, whereas most of New Jersey’s Representatives scored 14 or 15. Frelinghuysen lost crucial points when he voted against healthcare funding and educational benefits for the veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to Ed McLaughlin, 59, a Vietnam Veteran from Butler, “Frelinghuysen slaps the troops on the back and says ‘I’m right behind you guys.’ Then he votes against us every chance he gets. The only time he votes for veterans is when it’s practically unanimous.” McLaughlin served with the First Marines from 1967 to 1969 and has a 100% service-connected disability.

Tom Wyka, D-Parsippany, who is challenging Frelinghuysen for his Congressional seat, says, “If you look at Frelinghuysen’s voting record, you find a disturbing pattern. He voted against most of the items on the Disabled American Veterans’ agenda. The things he voted for passed unanimously, or nearly so. But when disabled veterans needed him to stand up for them, when the vote was close, he voted the wrong way. You see a similar pattern in the IAVA scorecard. So when he says that he supports veterans, that’s nonsense!”

Votes in Congress can have serious consequences. Wyka says, “In 2005, Frelinghuysen voted against the Melancon of Louisiana Amendment. Melancon’s amendment would have increased funding for various veterans’ health care and other benefits programs by $53 million. The additional $53 million would have been used to speed up processing of claims for veterans’ healthcare and other benefits. Unfortunately, the amendment failed by one vote. It’s not unusual for a soldier coming home from Iraq to wait 6 to 9 months to have a claim processed. Maybe this is why.”

“Local veterans are also angry over Frelinghuysen’s position on the New GI Bill. Not only did Frelinghuysen fail to cosponsor this bill (thus missing the opportunity to add 2 points to his IAVA score), he voted against it, and instead voted for an inferior bill that the IAVA called ‘A Second-Rate GI Bill.’ When the better bill passed, Frelinghuysen praised it in his newsletter, claiming that it was a great victory for military families. Yet he failed to mention that he neither cosponsored it nor voted for it.”


Disabled American Veterans’ scorecard:…

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Action Fund Report Card:

New GI Bill:

House vote on New GI Bill:…

Wyka for Congress:


VETPAC Veterans Group Endorses Wyka

Parsippany, October 21-The Council for a Livable World’s Veterans’ Alliance for Security and Democracy (“CLW-VETPAC”) has endorsed Tom Wyka (D, Parsippany) to represent New Jersey’s 11th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

From VETPAC’s Web site: “VETPAC is a political action committee formed by American Veterans to promote the principles and values for which members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserved Forces have served our country, fought and died. Working together with the American People, through VETPAC we are embarked on a new operation, a ‘search and rescue’ mission. We are searching for national leadership that will help us rescue America’s future from policies that threaten our national security, our civil liberties, and our country’s economy. We are committed to working for a better future for our Nation and its citizens.”

As of October 21, Wyka was one of six non-veterans endorsed by the group for the 2008 election cycle. “We owe our military veterans a debt of service, and my opponent has been trying to renege on that debt,” says Wyka. “My opponent got a low score, only 10 out of 15 points, from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Congressional Report Card in 2008. Nobody in the New Jersey delegation scored lower. He scored far lower than the average Democrat and even worse than the average Republican. He scored low because he voted against healthcare and educational benefits for veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In particular, he voted against the New GI Bill.”

Wyka said, “Frelinghuysen’s performance on the Disabled American Veterans’ agenda was particularly bad. If you look at his voting record, he voted against everything that didn’t pass unanimously or nearly so. Our veterans don’t need someone who will stand up for them only when everyone else does. They need someone who will stand up when it counts!”

“I’m honored and grateful that VETPAC has endorsed me. When I look at their Web site, I see that we are concerned about the same issues, such as the great strain on our National Guard. VETPAC argues that ‘the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans’ planning for the care of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has been as poor as the planning and execution of the wars themselves.’ VETPAC feels that services to veterans have been unfairly delayed or denied as a result. This has to change. If I am elected, I will work hard to solve these problems.”


VetPac Web site listing of Wyka endorsement:…

VETPAC issues:…

Disabled American Veterans’ scorecard (notice that the items for which Frelinghuysen voted correctly passed unanimously, or nearly so):…

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Action Fund 2008 Congressional Report Card:…

Web site about the New GI Bill:…


Poll Says Wyka Can Win

Parsippany, October 21-Although New Jersey’s 11th Congressional district has long been considered a Republican stronghold, unaffiliated voters will determine the outcome of the 2008 race, and those who are aware of Democratic challenger Tom Wyka strongly support him.

The 11th Congressional district consists of all of Morris County, plus parts of Somerset, Essex, Sussex and Passaic Counties. Although the 11th is believed to be a Republican majority district, the largest group of registered voters within the district are “unaffiliated,” and the percentage of registered Democrats is growing, particularly in the eastern portion of the district. As of September 2008, there were 150,000 unaffiliated voters, 135,000 Republicans, and 95,000 Democrats.

“We calculate that Tom needs 65% of the unaffiliated vote in order to win the seat,” says Milin Shah, Campaign Coordinator of Wyka for Congress. “Our current polling indicates that 26% of the unaffiliated voters are undecided, with 49% leaning Democratic and 25% leaning Republican. If we can get our message out to those undecided unaffiliated voters, we will win.”

“Both candidates had surprisingly low name recognition among unaffiliated voters. Only 9% of the unaffiliated voters could name their current Congressman, as opposed to 2% who could name Wyka. But only 11% of the unaffiliateds who could name Frelinghuysen supported him. That’s compared to 100% support for Wyka among the unaffiliated voters who could name him,” said Shah.

Wyka’s campaign message focuses heavily on the incumbent’s voting record. Shah said, “Since 2006, more and more people have been paying attention to how Frelinghuysen has been voting. For years, he’s sent out newsletters that talk about how he ‘works with’ various groups and ‘supports’ their causes. So people are really stunned to discover that he doesn’t necessarily vote for the things he claims to work for and support. Voters deserve to know that their Congressman has voted against the best interest of homeowners, women, children, vets, and seniors. Rodney has voted against equal pay for men and women, voted against reforming the mortgage industry and against consumer protection in the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights; voted against children’s healthcare, voted against expanding Medicare. Environment New Jersey says that Frelinghuysen’s environmental voting record is ‘dismal.’ Frelinghuysen is one of the lowest-rated members of Congress in the entire country in the eyes of Disabled Veterans of America and continues to vote in lockstep with the Bush administration on the war in Iraq but often failed to vote to support the troops when they come home. In contrast, Tom Wyka has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women, the New Jersey Education Association, and the Council for a Livable World’s Veterans’ Alliance for Security and Democracy. Our campaign will continue to inform the electorate about Rodney’s voting record, and we are optimistic that on election day New Jersey’s District 11 will send Tom Wyka to Congress.”




Wyka: Frelinghuysen No Champion of Iraq/Afghanistan Vets


October 7, 2008


Wyka for Congress

P.O. Box 350

Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034


Frelinghuysen No Champion of Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans

Parsippany, October 7-Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, R-Harding, and Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, were tied for the lowest score in the New Jersey Congressional delegation in a scorecard issued by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Action Fund, an organization representing veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

In the 2008 IAVA Congressional scorecard, four of New Jersey’s members of the House of Representatives scored an A+ (a perfect score of 15): Bill Pascrell, (D-8) Steve Rothman (D-9), Rush Holt (D-12), and Albio Sires (D-13). Six others scored an A, which represented a score of 13 or 14: Robert Andrews (D-1), Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Chris Smith (R-4), Frank Pallone (D-6), Michael Ferguson (R-7), and Donald Payne (D-10). Jim Saxton (R-3) got a B for scoring 11 out of 15, and Scott Garrett (R-5) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) each got a B for scoring only 10 out of 15.

Tom Wyka (D, Parsippany), who is running against Rodney Frelinghuysen in the 11th district, explains:

“You might think that a B is good, but it means that Frelinghuysen voted against healthcare and education for veterans.”

“The IAVA’s grades are generous. Ron Paul got the only F. Only four members got a D, and only 34 members got a C. All of those who got a C, D, or F were Republicans. In contrast, all of the 122 members who got an A+ were Democrats.”

“Only one Democrat in the entire House of Representatives scored as low as Frelinghuysen did, but it was because of absences, not hostile votes. In contrast, 100 Republicans scored better than Frelinghuysen did.”

“Frelinghuysen and Garrett’s scores of 10 out of 15 are an embarrassment for the New Jersey delegation, most of whom got A+ or A. Both Frelinghuysen and Garrett have provided poor support to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The same can be said of the Republican Party as a whole.”

“Not only does Frelinghuysen have a poor voting record on veterans’ issues, he seldom introduces or cosponsors legislation endorsed by major veterans organizations.”

“The IAVA is a nonpartisan organization, so we had to put the scores into a spreadsheet and add the data on party affiliation,” explains Wyka.

According to the IAVA Action Fund’s report, the scorecard for the House of Representatives is based on 13 key votes on veterans’ issues. Each of these votes was an opportunity for the Representative to take a stand on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The Representative got one point for each vote that was in line with IAVA Action Fund’s position. The Representative didn’t get a point if he or she voted against the IAVA position or failed to vote on the issue. Because the fight for the new GI Bill was considered to be so important, Representatives who cosponsored the bill (H.B. 5740) got two additional points in the scorecard. The scorecard included a score for all of the Representatives except those who did not serve a complete term, such as Tom Lantos, who died in office. Nancy Pelosi was also excluded from the scoring, because as Speaker of the House, she votes only in the case of a tie.


Cosponsorship of H.B. 5740

Frelinghuysen lost 2 points because he was not among the 302 cosponsors of this bill.

Funding Veterans’ Health Care, 2007

January 31, 2007; Roll Call Vote No. 72

IAVA Action supported this legislation, which passed 286 to 140; Frelinghuysen voted against it.

The IAVA scorecard says, “More than five million American veterans rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs for their health care. Although veterans’ hospitals provide some of the best health care in the country, the VA has been underfunded for years; for FY2007, the Bush Administration requested almost $4 billion less in VA funding than the amount suggested by major veterans’ organizations. In early 2007, Congress made veterans’ health care a priority, increasing the funding for veterans’ health care by $3.6 billion. The budget passed by a vote of 286-140.”

The Post-9/11 GI Bill: Fair Education Benefits for Veterans (first vote)

May 15, 2008: Roll Call Vote No. 330

IAVA Action Fund supported this legislation, which passed 256 to 166; Frelinghuysen voted against it.

The IAVA scorecard says, “For the 1.7 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the transition to civilian life can be challenging. Veterans of World War II were aided in their reintegration by the “GI Bill,” which paid for the education of eight million combat veterans. The GI Bill changed the lives of millions of American veterans and their families. Sadly, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, still covered by the peacetime Montgomery GI Bill from 1984, received a far smaller benefit. Many new combat veterans were struggling with student loans or dropping out of school altogether. A new GI Bill was the number one priority for IAVA and IAVA Action in 2008.

“The popular and bipartisan ‘Post- 9/11 GI Bill,’ introduced on the House side by Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ-5), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3), Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL-5), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY-3), offered a new future to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The new GI Bill dramatically increases education benefits by providing tuition payments up to the cost of the most expensive public university in the state, a monthly living allowance, and a book stipend. It also creates a new ‘Yellow Ribbon’ program that matches any scholarship given to a veteran by a school more expensive than the tuition cap. In spring 2008, the new GI Bill was included as part of the domestic spending amendment to the Iraq war funding bill. Because of the concerns of some fiscally conservative ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats in the House, the cost of the GI Bill was given a budget offset (although the cost of the war funding as a whole was not). The offset chosen was a tax increase on individuals making over $500,000 a year, or couples making over $1 million annually. The offset lead many Republicans to vote against the measure despite their support for the GI Bill. ”  

A Second-Rate GI Bill

May 23, 2008; Roll Call Vote No. 364

IAVA Action opposed this legislation, which failed 186 to 223; Frelinghuysen voted for it.

The IAVA Scorecard says, “For over 18 months, IAVA and IAVA Action worked closely with a bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives on a new Post-9/11 GI Bill that would make college affordable to veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The model for the new legislation was the World War II GI Bill that paid for the education of eight million combat veterans, and helped rebuild America after a half-decade of war. The Post-9/11 GI Bill quickly gained the support of 300 cosponsors in the House, almost 60 cosponsors in the Senate, and all the leading Veterans Service Organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and of course IAVA.

“A small but vocal opposition in Congress argued that the benefit was too generous. In an effort to derail the popular and bipartisan Post-9/11 GI Bill already a part of the war supplemental funding, a motion was made to advance a meager and ill-conceived ‘alternate’ GI Bill before the Post-9/11 GI Bill had the opportunity to be passed and signed into law. This alternative GI Bill did not meet any of IAVA’s requirements for a new GI Bill; it did not cover the cost of college, it did not create fairness for National Guardsmen and Reservists, and because it was not linked to the cost of college, it would lose value every year. It did include a ‘transferability’ benefit, which offered current service members who agree to remain in the military for ten years the opportunity to transfer their GI Bill benefit to their spouse or children. However, because 75% of those serving in the military get out after their first term of service, this benefit will apply to relatively few Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Moreover, transferability was already possible at the discretion of the Department of Defense service secretaries. The weak ‘alternative’ GI Bill received the support of no major veterans’ service organizations.”


The IAVA Action Fund is not the first organization to point out Frelinghuysen’s poor voting record with regard to veterans’ issues:

Disabled American Veterans

Frelinghuysen voted against everything on the Disabled American Veterans’ agenda, except for items that passed unanimously or nearly so.…

American Legion

Frelinghuysen seldom introduces or cosponsors legislation endorsed by the American Legion:…

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Frelinghuysen seldom introduces or cosponsors legislation endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.…

Vietnam Veterans of America

Frelinghuysen seldom introduces or cosponsors legislation endorsed by the Vietnam Veterans of America.…


Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America 2008 Congressional Report Card: http://www.veteranreportcard.o…

List of party affiliations from the Clerk of the House of Representatives:…


Wyka: “Click and Read Before You Support Drilling”

“McCain supporters are chanting ‘Drill, baby, drill,’ but their support is based on misinformation from the McCain campaign and in the national news media,” says Tom Wyka, D-Parsippany, Congressional candidate in New Jersey’s 11th district. Wyka explains, “McCain hit a gusher of campaign contributions from the oil business when he abandoned his opposition to offshore drilling. He and the oil executives hope that voters don’t find out, until it’s too late, that drilling offshore and in ANWR [the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge] will do nothing to solve our current problems with gasoline prices. Fortunately, many voters can go on the Internet and get the facts for themselves, straight from the Energy Information Administration. So click and read before you think about supporting drilling.”

At issue is a moratorium on offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico. President George H.W. Bush, the current president’s father, established an executive ban on drilling in these areas. This moratorium reinforced a Congressional ban that had existed since the early 1980s. On Monday, July 14, President George W. Bush lifted the presidential moratorium, saying “Now the ball is squarely in Congress’s Court.” However, the U.S. Energy Information Administration had recently published a report concluding that the proposed drilling “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.” The report goes on to explain that if the drilling were to proceed on the Outer Continental Shelf, it could increase domestic oil production by 7 percent, relative to the amount that would be produced without offshore drilling. However, it would not have a significant impact on prices: “Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead price is expected to be insignificant.” ( forecasting0383(2007).pdf)

According to the Washington Post, John McCain’s announcement on June 16 that he was abandoning his opposition to offshore drilling was followed by a dramatic rise in campaign contributions from oil executives. Donations from oil and gas industry executives and employees to the McCain campaign in June totaled $1.1 million. Three quarters of this total came after the June 16 speech. In comparison, donations from the oil industry totaled $116,000 in March, $283,000 in April and $208,000 in May.

Public support for offshore drilling is growing, but the support is evidently based on faulty information and poor reporting on this issue in the national media. In August, an article in Extra!Update, published by the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), complained that the national media were “failing to do the math on oil” and that “support for offshore drilling increases following media misinformation.” The article noted that pundits and newscasters are framing offshore drilling as a way to return to $2 per gallon gasoline. Journalists who included the EIA study in their reports tended to ignore its conclusion that lifting the ban on offshore drilling would have no immediate impact on gasoline prices, and the impact on prices in 2030 would be insignificant. The article says, “With media coverage like this-suggesting that offshore drilling could cut gas prices in half rather than knocking off a few cents a couple of decades from now-it’s no wonder 64 percent of voters reportedly believe that gas prices would decrease as a result of the proposed drilling.”

Wyka says, “Although the McCain supporters are calling for an end to the moratorium on drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, the oil companies already have 68 million acres of federal land, both onshore and offshore, where they have leases but are not drilling. That’s why Nick Rahall introduced the Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act of 2008 (H.R. 6251). This bill would have forced oil and gas companies to either produce or give up federal onshore and offshore leases they are stockpiling by barring the companies from obtaining any more leases unless they can demonstrate that they are producing oil and gas, or are diligently developing the leases they already hold, during the initial term of the leases. Unfortunately, this bill required a two-thirds majority and did not pass. Of course, my opponent voted against it.”

“If something sounds too good to be true, it’s usually false,” Wyka explains. “Our energy problems are not due to the ban on drilling in environmentally sensitive areas. Simply lifting those bans will not magically make gasoline prices go back down. We are facing a serious problem with oil depletion, exacerbated by the market disruptions caused by the continuing war in Iraq, and a serious problem with global climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why I advocate a comprehensive approach, including conservation and the development of alternative energy sources. We can build a green economy. We should have started doing it years ago. There’s not a minute to lose.”… cle/2008/07/14/AR2008071401049.html……  

Wyka Renews Call to Fix Earmarks

Parsippany, September 2, 2008-Tom Wyka is asking the New Jersey Congressional delegation to support a moratorium on “earmark” spending. “Earmarking has become an industry, with campaign contributions being viewed as ‘investments.’ Last March, the Senate failed to pass an amendment banning earmark spending for a year. I suggest that the New Jersey Congressional delegation support a moratorium on earmarks. Dick Zimmer, John McCain, and Barack Obama have already expressed support.”

An “earmark” is a provision in legislation that directs funds to be spent on specific projects. Typically, legislators use it to direct a specified amount of money to a particular organization or project in their home state or district. Earmarking is different from the appropriation of money to a particular government agency, because the appropriate executive department can exercise discretion as to where and how those funds are spent. The use of earmarks in the House of Representatives and the Senate has has expanded significantly over the past few decades, but it is becoming increasingly controversial. Some nonprofit organizations, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the nation’s top universities, refuse to accept grants and contracts funded by earmarks.

“I’m all for getting funding for worthy projects in your district. But what bothers me is the process,” explained Wyka. “Earmarks undergo little or no debate in Congress, they are not subject to competitive bidding or administrative review, and they are seldom reported on by the press. Earmarks are usually added at a late phase to large bills that fund the federal government. If you are a Congressperson or a Senator, you then can’t oppose the earmark without voting against the whole bill. So there’s no easy way to stop it. Then there’s log-rolling, which means that members support bills with another member’s earmarks, in hope that the other member will support theirs. It gets out of control quickly. It’s also unfair, because it doesn’t direct funds to the most-deserving projects. Whether an earmark makes its way into a bill depends on the seniority and power of the member supporting it, not on the worthiness of the cause.”

According to Wyka, “Not only is the earmark process often unfair, but it often leads to corruption. Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham of California pled guilty to taking bribes in exchange for earmarks and was sent to prison. That was an extreme case, but it is also common for earmarks to go to a member’s campaign contributors. For example, according the Seattle Times’ report titled ‘The Favor Factory,’ my opponent Rodney Frelinghuysen had $83 million in defense earmarks in 2007. From 2001 to 2007, he had received $327,100 in contributions from the earmark recipients. It doesn’t look good.”

Wyka explains, “We will eventually solve part of this problem by public funding for national political campaigns. Americans for Campaign Reform estimate that we could publicly fund all races for national office-that’s House of Representatives, Senate, and President-for just $6 per person. We would save far more than that per person in pork-barrel spending alone, because members of Congress would no longer have to reward their big fundraisers. In 2007, we had a successful pilot project for public funding of campaigns in three legislative districts in New Jersey. It worked. And it’s the future. In the meantime, we need to think about how to deal with earmark spending. We need to stop the ‘quid pro quo’ one way or another.”

Jeff Flake, a Republican of Arizona, gave the following speech before the House of Representatives on September 26, 2007: “Among the many downsides to earmarking, and one that we rarely talk about on the House floor, is the practice of ‘circular fund-raising.’ Campaign donations are given to members, members secure earmarks benefiting their contributors, and contributors in turn are able to give members more donations. This cycle is repeated over and over and over. Unfortunately, this is a bipartisan practice. The media has reported on many such arrangements for members on both sides of the aisle. Legal issues aside, circular fund-raising does not pass the smell test. Whether it’s fair or not, the crimes of a few of our former colleagues have cast suspicion over us all. Continued rampant fund-raising is simply not worth the trust it costs us with our constituents. I think that most of us had higher aspirations when we came here, than groveling for crumbs that fall from appropriators’ tables. I hope that we, as members of Congress, will finally decide that enough is enough.”  



Frelinghuysen environmental record “dismal”

August 19, 2008-Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen’s (R-11) record for votes on environmental issues is the second worst in New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, according to a scorecard by Environment New Jersey. He scored only 54%, compared with 83% for the New Jersey Congressional delegation as a whole and 58% for the entire Congress. According to the summary on the scorecard, “While he [Frelinghuysen] often espouses the rhetoric of environmental protection, his voting record has been dismal, specifically on the Arctic Refuge drilling and toxic waste cleanup funding. However, he did support measures to increase fuel efficiency this session.” Only Scott Garrett (R-5), who voted for only 8% of the items on Environment New Jersey’s scorecard, had a lower score.

Environmental issues got bipartisan support from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation. Both of New Jersey’s Senators, Robert Menendez (D) and Frank Lautenberg (D), had perfect scores, voting for all of the key environmental votes identified by Environment New Jersey. So did eight of the New Jersey members of the House of Representatives, including Republicans as well as Democrats: Rob Andrews (D-1), Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Chris Smith (R-4), Frank Pallone (D-6), Bill Pascrell (D-8), Steve Rothman (D-9), Rush Holt (D-12), and Albio Sires (D-13). The scores were from a tally of votes on key environmental issues tracked by Environment New Jersey between January 18, 2007 and February 27, 2008. According to Environment New Jersey, “This scorecard is one tool used by Environment New Jersey to hold our government accountable to the public. Among Environment New Jersey’s federal priorities: curbing global warming and promoting clean energy; defending and strengthening clean air and water protections; saving our national forests and other environmentally sensitive areas; cutting government handouts to polluters; and keeping people safe from toxic chemicals.”

Frelinghuysen is being challenged again in this election year by Democrat Tom Wyka. According to Wyka, “When I was in school, 54% was a failing grade. The Environment New Jersey scorecard tells us that my opponent is below average, not only for New Jersey, but for the nation as a whole.  They describe his performance as ‘dismal.’ The people in the 11th district care about the environment. Most of the voters I meet think that Frelinghuysen cares about the environment, because of what they read in the newsletters that he sends out at taxpayers’ expense. So people are really stunned when they see how he rates in scorecards from nonpartisan organizations like Environment New Jersey or the League of Conservation Voters. Frelinghuysen has been in Congress a long time, and his father was a Congressman before him, so he knows how to ‘talk the talk’ to voters. But when you look at his voting record, you see that he’s not willing to ‘walk the walk’ by voting the way his constituents want him to vote. He probably hopes that they just don’t notice. Lots of people have voted for Rodney in the past because they were misled into thinking that he cared about the environment. But for a Congressman, ‘support’ isn’t about showing up for photo ops at Superfund sites, it’s about voting the right way down in Washington. It’s high time that he was held accountable for his votes.”

Wyka was particularly concerned by Frelinghuysen’s votes against ending subsidies for big oil companies. “Big oil is making record profits, while consumers are paying record high prices for gasoline. The big oil companies don’t need these subsidies. We should be using that money to fund clean energy initiatives instead.”

He was also concerned by Frelinghuysen’s vote against preserving funding for global warming research. “The overwhelming majority of the climate scientists worldwide say that we have a real problem. Why is Frelinghuysen voting against funding for research to help solve it?”

Wyka argues that Frelinghuysen’s energy policy is to support subsidies for big oil while spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the occupation of Iraq, with its large oil reserves. “Even if American oil companies were to get a piece of the action in the Iraqi oil fields, that doesn’t mean that American consumers will pay one penny less per gallon of gasoline.” Wyka adds that “As a member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, our Congressman has a lot of responsibility for the fact that Congress has allocated over $540 billion dollars on the war in Iraq so far. That comes out to $3.2 billion from the taxpayers in this Congressional district alone.  And there is no end in sight. Just imagine what we could have accomplished if even a fraction of this amount of money had been spent on developing green energy instead.”