Author Archive: rmfretz

Garrett’s SCHIP Numbers

Is our Congressmen learning? Fretz gives Rep. Garrett a badly needed math lesson. Promoted from the diaries — Juan

Cross-posted at Blog the Fifth

In the latest edition of the Official What Squad, Representative Scott Garrett shed the usual lies and focused on income levels as a way to justify his stance against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. A look at the numbers catches Garrett once again showing a willingness to distort the truth. Fortunately, there’s this pesky thing called the Census Bureau that helps discredit yet another of Garrett’s arguments.

Our Tax Dollars Killing Our Troops

Cross-posted at Blog  the Fifth.

This may be one of the more explosive stories about Iraq I’ve read. It’s over the AP wire, but this is from The Seattle Times:

Iraq’s deadly insurgent groups have financed their war against U.S. troops in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds that they’ve extorted from Iraqi contractors in Anbar province.

[snip]

Providing that security is the source of the extortion, Iraqi contractors say. A U.S. company with a reconstruction contract hires an Iraqi subcontractor to haul supplies along insurgent-ridden roads. The Iraqi contractor sets his price at up to four times the going rate because he’ll be forced to give 50 percent or more to gun-toting insurgents who demand cash in exchange for the supply convoys’ safe passage

[snip]

“Every contractor in Anbar who works for the U.S. military and survives for more than a month is paying the insurgency,” the politician said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The contracts are inflated, all of them. The insurgents get half.”

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he was aware of the “insurgent tax” that U.S.-allied contractors are forced to pay in Anbar, though he said it wasn’t clear how much money was going to militant groups and how much to opportunistic tribesmen operating on their own.

[snip]

“If I do it in the Green Zone, it’s just putting gravel in … bags and it would be about $16,000,” the contractor said. “But they needed it for Ramadi and Fallujah. I submitted an invoice for $120,000 and I’d say about $100,000 of that went to the mujahedeen,” as Iraqis sometimes call Sunni insurgents.

As I noted a few months ago, this sort of insanity is allowed to go on because the Iraqi cabinet members have a Constitutional right to block corruption investigations. Unless something significant changes in a hurry, any member of Congress voting to continue funding the reconstruction efforts is literally handing 50 cents of every dollar they approve to kill our own troops.

Garrett full of SCHIP

Promoted from the diaries — njdem

It’s been a while.  Cross-posted at Blog the Fifth

Well, Representative Scott Garrett has posted again over at Townhall.com. This time he writes about his opposition to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. It’s an interesting read, and a prime example of rhetorical spin at it’s finest if you’re a fan; or worst if you just want politicians to tell it like it is. You can read the complete text here.

For those not having the time to read the whole thing, here are a few inaccuracies right off the bat:

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 2.1 million people who are currently covered by private health plans will be forced into this nationalized health care.

Nowhere in either the CBO report to the Committee on Ways and Means or to The Rules Committee is that said.

My TiVo’s Name Will be SCOTUS

Cross-posted at Blog the Fifth

For those that missed it, the Supreme Court dealt a blow yesterday to those of us who want to remove money from politics. At issue was whether or not a special interest group was allowed to run an “issue ad” within 60 days of an election without complying with federal election law reporting requirements. Finding that the election law was a hindrance of speech, special interest groups (corporations, unions, advocacy groups) joined hands with shareholders of DVR manufacturers in rejoicing the SCOTUS.

This decision has a number of negative consequences for the vast majority of Americans.

First and foremost is that a lobbyist will once again be able to walk in to a legislator's office with the unregulated expense report regarding how much their client spent to get the legislator in office. I work for one of the best television commercial production houses in the world, and people don't hire us because we're nice people (we're very nice). They hire us because we're damn good at what we do and they're expecting a return on their investment (a great ad to help them sell product). When it comes to election expenditures, special interests expect the same: votes for dollars spent. A few hundred thousand in exchange for a multi-million dollar earmark is a pretty good return on investment. A few hundred million for a multi-billion dollar no bid contract is even better.

Garrett Votes Against Police…Again

I haven’t done this in a while, cross-posted at Blog the Fifth

In yet another classic example of saying something during the campaign and voting differently once down in Washington, Representative Scott Garrett joined 33 other Representatives in opposing the “COPS Improvements Act of 2007.” The Bill restores many of the funds stripped from community policing programs over the last few years, and establishes new grants for anti-terrorism training for officers, training grants for veterans to join law enforcement, and technology upgrades.

Garrett and the Ghost of Nor’Easter Future

Cross-posted at Blog the Fifth.

With Representative Scott Garrett’s tour of some of the flood damaged towns in the Fifth, he reports he’s seen first hand how hard hit the area is and how extensive the damage has been. I have little doubt his staff is going to do everything they can to help residents get FEMA aid if the disaster area declaration comes down. His staff always receives high marks for fulfilling this aspect of their duty, it’s a shame Garrett cannot have the same said about him.

At issue is not this particular flood, there’s really nothing that could have changed the outcome of this particular storm. However, over a month ago Garrett voted against providing funding for projects to prevent the overwhelming damage suffered in our District, state and region. While a storm like we just had will cause flooding, the extent of the damage would be lessened with a modern sewer system. With his vote against Representative Bill Pascrell’s bill to provide funding to upgrade combined sewer systems, Garrett in essence was voting in favor of more extensive than necessary flood damage.

Good Votes, But We need a Source

This is cross posted at Blog the Fifth.  I’d like to read this study Garrett’s citing, but could use some help finding it

So far, it’s been a pretty good week for the Fifth. Representative Scott Garrett has voted pretty much the way I think most of the people in our District would have, with the exception of a vote against outlawing blades used to make cockfights more gruesome. Other than that, we’ve seen him vote for environmental protection, money for transit security (as a daily rider of NJ Transit, this is a big one for me), more money for disabled veterans, and probably most surprising, his vote for limiting the term of interim Federal prosecutor appointments.

As great as all this is, one thing about this week is more problematic than supporting the cockfighting blades. In both the Garrett Gazette and on the floor the other night, Garrett imparted this little bit of “wisdom.”

Let’s take a look at what the Democrat budget proposal would do to a family of four from Bergen County earning $70,000 per year. According to a study done by the New York Times, that family saw their tax bill slashed by 20% after the Republican congress passed tax relief measures between 2001 and 2003. To roll those tax cuts back now would take around $1,500 out of that family’s budget today.

The reason I used the quotes up top is because I can’t find the article. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, I just can’t find the article. I’ve searched the New York Times website using several keywords including “Democrats Budget”, “Bush Tax Cut”, “House Budget”, “Bergen Family of Four” and “$70,000”.

The search turned up a lot of recent stuff, including: The Garrett co-sponsored 2003 Bush Tax cuts are giving foreign businesses a competitive advantage over domestic ones; The Democrats balance the budget without providing AMT relief (same as Bush); The AMT now impacts 23.4 million of the nation’s 90 million taxpayers with help from the Bush tax cuts; and a story about how long term health insurers are denying care for thousands of senior citizen policyholders. With all of this and much more, I couldn’t find the study Garrett cited.

My hope is that this is not another example of Garrett misrepresenting the truth after having such a good start to the week. A link or where we could find the article in a hard copy would be helpful if somebody has one. With all sides firing up the spin machines over their budget proposals, I’ll have enough to write about without needing another example. However, if in fact the article doesn’t exist, that opens up a whole new can of worms.

Garrett’s grudge against drinking water

Update: This bill’s passage has major implications for North Jersey. Both The Record and The Herald News carried stories about Representative Bill Pascrell Jr.’s legislation, which was approved among the New Jersey House Delegation, 12 to Garrett.

Cross posted at Blog the Fifth

I’ve been working on another project this evening and decided to take a break to see what went on in the House today. One bill, and Garrett’s vote on it, stood out. He was the only NJ House member to vote against The Water Quality Investment Act of 2007. Basically, it provides grant money to states and towns to help clean up their water by avoiding sewer overrun into streams and such. This was a big problem where I lived in Michigan, where we’d have significant rain and the sewage treatment facilities would overrun and dump raw sewage in the rivers and lakes where people swam and would catch fish for dinner. Fun stuff, huh?

Anyway, Garrett voted against providing money to help fix problems like these, that usual have enormous costs that communities can’t afford to fix on their own. At first I was surprised, however, I should have seen this coming, as Garrett has a long running feud with working sanitation and clean water for people to drink and get food from.

Defending the Defenseless

As promised, cross-posted on Blog the Fifth

With it’s recent ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court took a major step forward in defending the defenseless. By striking down a number of eligibility restrictions that served as barriers for the developmentally disabled and their families to receive care, our fair state will take a major step forward to providing for those most in need of help. The question now becomes one of money, priorities and morals.

It’s the Principle

For those who don’t know me, I’m the Independent who ran against Aronsohn and Garrett in the Fifth.  I haven’t commented or put up a diary before, but thought it appropriate in light of DottieG’s diary and ensuing conversation deriding people like myself and those who vote for us.  This started out as a comment and turned into a “novel”, but if you have the time give it a read; I come in peace.