Why I voted against the debt bill

Thanks, Congressman. – promoted by Rosi

Washington has been consumed with a protracted and distracting debate that tied the need to raise the Nation’s debt limit to budget cuts. All reasonable people know that default was not an option. The failure of the country to pay its bills would have a catastrophic effect on the economy and on the lives of all Americans for years to come. This was a debate we shouldn’t have been having. Every day and every hour that was spent in this battle was time that wasn’t devoted to job creation or economic growth.

I voted against the deal that was made to end the crisis that paralyzed Congress and threatened the economy. A default had to be avoided, but this was not the best way to do it. First and foremost, the plan does nothing to create a single job and does nothing to aid the ailing economy. In fact, it could cause both immediate and long-term harm to the country’s economic well being and to our ability to pursue economic opportunities.

Negawatts save Megabucks

The Newark Star Ledger reported (here) that Public Service Electric and Gas, PSE&G is installing a the UMDNJ is installing a  2,700-ton chiller as part of an $11.4 million investment in negawatts. The Star Ledger reported that UMDNJ will save $1.3 million per year on energy costs.What’s the payback? An $11.4 million investment will save $1.3 million per year. That means the system will pay for itself in about 8 years 9 months, assuming the price of energy remains constant.  I think it’s a much more reasonable to assume that the price of energy will go up.

The system will work long after it is paid for. It will save at least $13 Million over the next 10 years and $26 Million over the next 20 years – assuming electricity costs are constant, assuming electricity costs are constant.  Assuming electricity costs increase an average of 5% per year, this will save $16.35 Million over the next 10 years, and $42.99 over the next 20 years.

  • Projected Savings of $11.4 Million investment.
  • After 1 Year: $1.3 Million. 11.4%
  • After 5 Years: $7.18 Million (63%) with a 5% annual increases in cost of energy.
  • After 10 Years: $16.35 M (143.4%).
  • After 15 Years: $28.05 M (246%)
  • After 20 Years: $42.99 M (377%).

We have Governor Corzine to thank. as well as Governors Whitman, McGreevey, Codey, and Christie.

NJ6 Poll: Pallone up seven with a week to go

The new Monmouth University poll of 647 likely voters from October 22 to 25, 2010 shows an even closer race in NJ6:

Incumbent Democrat Frank Pallone holds a 7 point lead over Tea Party-backed Republican Anna Little, 52% to 45%, according to the Monmouth University Poll.  A poll taken three weeks ago found the incumbent ahead by a 53% to 41% margin among likely voters in this district.

“Anna Little’s gains have come from a tremendous grassroots effort in her home region of Monmouth County.  Frank Pallone will need to bet on a strong turnout in more Democratic areas of this district to fend off this challenge,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Pallone has an identical 52-45 lead among the 7% who have already voted by mail. The President’s job approval rating is 45-48 among the NJ6 likely voters.  

As I understand the outcomes of polling, I can still safely predict Pallone will win since he is up by seven and above 50% with a week to go. But you’d be best off helping Pallone, Holt, Rothman, and our other Representatives than counting on probability. I think it’s safe to say we’ll get a close poll for Rush Holt later in the week. Sign up here to volunteer for Pallone.

Poll: Pallone (D) leads Little (R) by 12

Monmouth University polled New Jersey’s 6th district (PDF):

…incumbent Democrat Frank Pallone holds a 12 point lead over Tea Party-backed Republican Anna Little. The Monmouth University Poll finds Pallone leading Little by a 53% to 41% margin among likely voters in this district.

Patrick Murray points out Pallone normally wins by thirty so that’s not so impressive but it looks good enough. Pallone’s favorable-unfavorable is 48-32, job approval is 46-36. Among other interesting numbers that show how hard this district is for Little is that the Republican Party gets 57% unfavorable and the Tea Party 51% unfavorable.  FiveThirtyEight.com projected 59.3-37.3 before this poll was released, so again Pallone is doing worse than expected.

more below the fold

Rep. Frank Pallone doesn’t care about kids with brain injuries

I thought I should explain the title with some history/details and I would hope you would contact Rep. Pallone directly and ask him to stop blocking H. Con. Res. 198 which is the most broad-based, bi-partisan health care initiative during this entire Congress with over 110 Members as co-sponsors (here are the facts):

Every year millions of American children and young adults up to 25 years of age acquire a new brain injury which makes it the #1 leading cause of death and disability by far (i.e., the total cumulative cases of autism in the entire country is between 565,000 – 1.2 million).  Every time this happens to a family they are stuck having to reinvent the system of care for their child and family.  The system of care is arbitrary from state to state, random from school district to school district and a complete crapshoot from one doctor’s office to another.

The causes of Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury can be from trauma (such as motor-vehicle crashes, falls, sports-related concussions, child abuse/shaken baby syndrome, blast injury from war, etc…) as well as non-traumatic causes (such as strokes, meningitis, brain tumors, near-drownings, etc…).

The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation (SJBF) brought together more than 75 of the leading doctors, researchers and family advocates to New York City the first week of January 2009, to complete the first-ever National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan) which develops a seamless, standardized, evidence-based, system of care that is universally accessible for these PABI families.

In June 2009, SJBF announced the largest healthcare collaboration in U.S. history dealing with PABI by announcing one State Lead Center for every state plus D.C. and Puerto Rico to develop a Master PABI Plan for their respective state (since every state is different).  While expanding the International Advisory Board to over 200 experts worldwide, SJBF also received letters of support about the PABI Plan from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine and the American Academy of Neurology.

Having established a national professional and family consensus around the PABI Plan, the next step was creating a national political consensus around the PABI Plan.  SJBF had already begun receiving letters of support from US Senators (Cornyn, Kerry, McCain, Inhofe, Landrieu, Lieberman, etc…) and many US Representatives from across the country.

On October 13, 2009, H. Con. Res. 198 was introduced by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC1) along with 47 original co-sponsors.  H. Con. Res. 198 was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and SJBF was instructed we needed to secure 100 co-sponsors (20 of them from E/C Committee) in order for the measure to move through the E/C Committee and be afforded and up-or-down vote in the full House.

H. Con. Res. 198 states the following, “Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress –

1. Recognizes that Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury (PABI) is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States for children and young adults up to 25 years of age;

2. Endorses the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan as the method to prevent future PABIs and treat all children and young adults suffering from a PABI while supporting their families; and

3. Encourages all Federal, State and local governments to implement the PABI Plan.

As of March 4, 2010, H. Con. Res. 198 has over 100 bi-partisan co-sponsors from 40 different states (20 from the E/C Committee). Since then, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ6) and his staff member on the E/C Committee, Camille Sealy have been holding the measure up demanding that the wording be changed to completely gut the original intent of the measure: create a national political consensus around the PABI Plan!  Patrick Donohue has spoken with Rep. Pallone on three separate occasions since May 2010 about H. Con. Res. 198.

For greater details on H. Con. Res. 198, please visit www.TheBrainProject.org/lettertopallone.php

Rating How Competitive New Jersey Congressional Districts Are: Nate Silver’s PPI Index

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has just introduced his new “Partisan Propensity Index” (PPI). If you’ve been following elections closely, you’re probably already familiar with the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) from Cook, and similar statistics from Swing State Project. Cook’s idea is to look at how each Congressional District voted for President compared to the nationwide average. So, for example, the NJ5 district (Garrett’s) is rated R+7, meaning it voted 7 points more Republican than nationwide, while NJ13 (Sire’s) is rated D+21. You can see why Democrats had such a hard time even with a good candidate against Garrett, and why Republicans didn’t seriously contest NJ13 when Menendez left it. Unlike Congressional races, where often one candidate is hardly covered in the news and has hardly any campaign budget, the two party’s Presidential candidates are well known. The PVI index is widely used to identify competitive districts.  

Here’s Silver’s idea:

Are there any systematic differences in the ways that votes tend to fall for the Congress, as opposed to the Presidency? Are certain districts better or worse for Democrats, or Republicans, than PVI alone would suggest?

It turns out that there’s one other factor which is fairly useful to look at, which is socioeconomic status. Relative to how they do for the Presidency, Democrats are somewhat more likely to win races for Congress in poorer districts, and somewhat more likely to lose them in wealthier ones. Another way to put this is that a split ticket of Republican for President, Democrat for Congress is more likely to occur in a poor district, whereas a split ticket of Democrat for President, Republican for Congress is more likely to occur in a wealthy one.

Click through for the statistical analysis he uses. Silver expresses his PPI index as the chance for Democrats to win an open seat in an average election cycle, based solely on two factors: the recent Presidential Vote and the percentage of the population with incomes under $25,000/yr.  Here are the results for New Jersey:

District Name PVI PPI
NJ11 Frelinhguysen R+7 2.5%
NJ5 Garrett R+7 3.2%
NJ4 Smith R+6 10.9%
NJ7 Lance R+3 13.9%
NJ3 Adler R+1 27.9%
NJ12 Holt D+5 62.9%
NJ2 LoBiondo D+1 66.0%
NJ6 Pallone D+8 85.2%
NJ9 Rothman D+9 88.8%
NJ8 Pascrell D+10 96.6%
NJ1 Andrews D+12 97.0%
NJ13 Sires D+21 99.95%
NJ10 Payne D+33 99.998%

The main lesson, if you take this ratings seriously, is that New Jersey’s wealth makes the battleground Congressional districts lean Republican compared to how they vote at the Presidential level. In many states, the R+3 and even the R+7 districts have a great chance of going Democratic at the Congressional level, but here NJ5 and NJ7 are actually quite unfavorable, and should vote for the House like R+14 districts in the rest of the country. When we evaluate how our candidates did, it’s worth keeping this effect in mind.

Frank LoBiondo’s district is the poorest in New Jersey, and by this measure is slightly better for Democrats than Holt’s district, but we are stuck with the echo of 1994. In case it’s not obvious, being an incumbent matters, scandals matter, and cycles can be more or less Republican than the average cycle, and you should always remember that the most likely outcome doesn’t always happen. All of our 2010 races have incumbents so the percentages definitely do not apply. Also, this is the last election in the current districts.

Ask Congressman Pallone…..

When it comes to using online technology in communicating with constituents, (Blue Jersey community member) Congressman Pallone has never been shy about trying new things.

Previously, he held a Twitter Town Hall on health care reform, where there were some very good questions and active participation.

Now, the Congressman is trying something a bit different – using Google Moderator to solicit feedback and debate policy proposals.  According to the description the Congressman posted:

Going back to my time as a Long Branch City Councilman, I’ve always believed it was important to give my constituents a direct line to communicate their questions, concerns, and thoughts. Technology is revolutionizing how we interact, and as the Congressman for New Jersey’s 6th District, I want to use these new tools to hear directly from you.

The internet opens up new opportunities to solicit input, debate policy proposals, and raise new ideas. Using the Google Moderator application and YouTube, I want to hear directly from you, and at the end of each month I’ll make a web video directly answering your questions.

The issues will change from month-to-month. I might be seeking input on questions you want asked to a witness testifying in front of my Health Subcommittee. You could want updates on the financial regulation reform and what it will mean to consumers. Or what I know about the progress being made in Afghanistan. Some months I’ll ask specifically about your thoughts or questions on a certain topic; other months it will be open ended.

The end game to this new idea for interaction is to create a more open, transparent dialogue. As a Congressman I serve the people, and want to hear your input. My fight against the special interests and lobbyists is an everyday battle and I want to make sure my most ardent supporters – progressives – have a vehicle to give me their opinions and thoughts.

So…..what do you think?  Send the Congressman a question or comment – its just another way to communicate directly.

Frank Pallone on Health Care Reform

This morning Nancy Pelosi released the health care reform bill that the full House of Representatives will consider. Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ6) put out this statement:

“This is history in the making for health care in America,” said Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., a key author. “Once these reforms are enacted, every American will be able to take comfort in the knowledge they will have access to affordable health care and that insurance coverage  won’t be denied or taken away. Good health care is a basic need shared by all Americans, this will make it a basic right for everyone.”

I had the chance to join Pallone’s conference call for the media this afternoon. The messages I took away were:

Pallone is happy with this bill, says it refects for the most part the bil passed by his Energy and Commerce committee.  When asked what disappoints him, he says “nothing.”

He emphasizes that many aspects of reform will take effect immediately. In particular, rescissions, denial of pre-existing coonditions, and  lifetime limits on coverage will be banned. He raised the point that some (certainly not all) of the protections exist in New Jersey state law already, but insurers will find it harder to evade federal law as they now do state law.

Leading By Listening

I’m planning to be at both of these Town Halls. Tonight I’ll be there with nyceve who writes on health care for Daily Kos, and Jonathan Tasini. We’ll all be there on the reform side. I hope to see some of you from the Blue Jersey community, too. If you see us, please come by and let us know what’s on your mind. – – – promoted from the diaries by Rosi Efthim

Since I first went to Congress some 20 years ago, I’ve always made a point of coming home from Capitol Hill to listen to my constituents’ concerns and brief them on the work I’ve been doing on their behalf.  Despite the well-coordinated campaign by those obstructionists intent on derailing progressive change in Washington, this year will be no different.  So in case you haven’t heard, I’m hosting town meetings tonight and tomorrow here in my district.

Tonight, Monday, August 24 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Piscataway Municipal Building

455 Hoes Lane, Piscataway

Tuesday, August 25 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Red Bank Middle School

101 Harding Road, Red Bank

ACTION: “Whipping the public option” – Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-6)

Recently, I posted a diary that outlines an initiative we are undertaking here at Blue Jersey with respect to the upcoming health care legislation as it relates to the public option.  While most of the NJ Congressional delegation supports a public option, only Rush Holt and Donald Payne have committed to NOT SUPPORT a bill that did not have a public option.  And, as I said in that diary, as well as on Blue Jersey Radio last week, that is why we here at Blue Jersey are going to ask you – the Blue Jersey community – to help whip our fine Representatives into shape.

We will be focusing on each of the six other NJ House Democrats and then probably the three republicans (LoBiondo, Lance, Smith), and will go in order of District.  We did a diary on Rep. Rob Andrews (NJ-1) last week, and another yesterday focusing on Rep. John Adler (NJ-3) (if you missed them, please read them and take action there as well).  Today’s focus is on Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6).  

We are also coordinating this effort with DFA-NJ, and with your participation, this could be a great way to show how the progressive community in NJ can work together to accomplish great things.  Before I get into it though, I have one request:   Please go to this diary and read the “rules” in terms of some general requests for when you call the Representatives.

What we need you to do

Rep. Pallone’s contact information is below:

DC Phone:202-225-4671

DC Fax: 202-225-9665

Please call his office and thank him support for a strong public option and for “Standing with Dr. Dean” on health care reform.  Most importantly, since Rep. Pallone is a strong supporter of REAL heath care reform, and has more of a hand in crafting whatever bill gets passed in reconciliation than most, if not all of the other NJ Representatives, he understands what is at stake here.  Therefore, it is important to make sure that he would not only commit to vote against a watered down bill that may ultimately be produced in reconciliation that will either (1) not include a strong public option (as outlined in either HR 676 or the current House bill) or (2) will include a “trigger”, but also to do all that he can to make sure that the ultimate bill includes a strong public option.  A “strong public option” includes the following:

  • available nationwide;
  • on day one
  • and accountable to Congress and the voters

Please report your findings in the comments section below.  Additionally, FireDogLake has a “whip tool” that you can fill out with the applicable information, if you are able to get anything definitive (either good, bad or neutral).  Also, please get the name and title (and whatever other applicable information) from whomever you speak to.

A little bit about Representative Frank Pallone, Jr.

Rep. Pallone was elected to Congress in 1988 and is on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health. He also serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, and sits on a number of subcommittees for each of these Committees.  His House Committee is one of those responsible for the current House health care bill, and he, along with Rep. Andrews, is a cosponsor of the bill.

Rep. Pallone is a solid friend of and contributor to the Blue Jersey community, and just last month posted at Blue Jersey and Daily Kos about the importance of a public option.  He is also one of 13 members of the NJ Congressional delegation (everyone except for Rodney Frelinghuysen and Scott Garrett) who have expressed support for a public option, and is also noted as supporting a public option on the Stand With Dr. Dean website.


And while you are calling, if you could also call Representative Rob Andrews (DC Phone: 202-225-6501) and Representative John Adler (DC Phone:202-225-4765) if you missed the previous diaries, and report the responses at this link for Andrews and this link for Adler, that would be doubly great.

Thanks so much and we really appreciate your help and participation.  I am sure the hundreds of thousands of uninsured and underinsured New Jerseyans thank you even more.


Our next diary will focus on Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-8).