Friday, February 27, 2009

Frank LoBiondo: It's common sense that many Americans must go without health care

Today's Sunbeam talked to Rob Andrews and a spokeman for Frank LoBiondo to get their takes on Barack Obama's health care efforts. Andrews was supportive -- pointing out that voters endorsed reform by voting for Obama -- but LoBiondo opposes the entire idea. After some standard Republican lines about small business taxes that is misleading at best, LoBiondo's spokesman got to the point:

Still, LoBiondo supports health care reform, but he thinks the problem should be addressed in pieces. For example, Galanes said, LoBiondo's recent support of the expansion of a key children's health insurance program was one such piece.

"There needs to be a consensus approach to this and common-sense solutions," Galanes said. "...There isn't one avenue. You have to look at the entire situation by pieces."

I've certainly praised LoBiondo for supporting the SCHIP children's program, but this statement tells us that LoBiondo believes that universal coverage is not important. But is it "common sense" to work on reducing those without insurance from 46 million to 40 million, but not work to get the number close to zero? I don't think so. There are already 83 million people with government coverage, so there can be no "common sense" objections against government involvement in health care. It's just that the so-called moderates can't look around and see that we are trapped in their "common sense" non-solutions because of accidents of history. Meanwhile, the giant car companies teeter on the edge of bankruptcy while small businesses leave their employees uncovered. And if you're laid off due to the uncontrollable forces of the recession, you're out of luck.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Frank LoBiondo on the President's Joint Address to Congress

I did not find Frank LoBiondo's statement on his website, but it was reprodced by the The Daily Journal:

“This evening, the President gave an honest, sober assessment of our nation’s economy. Our nation faces significant economic challenges that are severe and likely to grow worse. But, as the President rightly pointed out; ‘The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.’ I strongly agree with his assessment.

“To reach the solutions to our economic challenges, President Obama renewed his call for Congress and the Administration to work together for our families and small businesses. I believe the President’s interests in building a common ground and intention to forge consensus solutions are genuine. It now falls on Congress to honestly do the same on behalf of the American people.

“As I have throughout my career, I will support bipartisan initiatives that truly strengthen our economy and create new jobs for struggling South Jersey families. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for consensus solutions to the critical issues facing the nation: achieving affordable health care, keeping hard-working families in their homes, becoming energy independent, reigning in wasteful spending and strengthening homeland security. And I will stand strong in support of our servicemen and women, ensuring they have all the resources they need to be successful in their mission.”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Salem County Stimulus Projects

Frank LoBiondo's opposition to federal spending to revive the economy has not prevented towns in Salem County, New Jersey from planning to use the opportunity. Today's Sunbeam has the county requests:

About 75 unique projects were produced by Salem County entities and the municipalities of Alloway, Carneys Point, Elmer, Elsinboro, Mannington, Oldmans, Penns Grove and Pittsgrove.

"Salem County has maintained a proactive and cooperative approach in submitting our projects for consideration of economic stimulus dollars," said Freeholder Deputy Director Beth Timberman. "We are very pleased that our towns and institutions have responded to our call for projects and we have submitted them all for consideration."

Roads, schools, energy-efficiency upgrades, solar panels, and many other projects were on thelist. Here's one that struck me:

Penns Grove Borough asked for $720,000 to replace three obsolete water pump stations that are at risk of failing. According to Penns Grove Engineer Mark Brunermer, the sites do not even have auxiliary power, something fairly common by today's standards.

Today's Sunbeam makes a point that both Republicans and Democrats have submitted requests. However, I can't help but notice that Woodstown and Pilesgrove are absent, despite the fact that residents know that major projects are needed (hint: the schools.) Both are Republican-controlled. Maybe LoBiondo can give them a call to wake them up.

Friday, February 20, 2009

LoBiondo and the Stimulus revisited

Blogger bytheshore73 observes a curious problem with Frank LoBiondo's objections to the stimulus: By voting against the stimulus, he voted against the federal grants to firefighters than he loves to take credit for:

So the basic timeline is: Lobiondo votes against stimulus, Lobiondo announces federal grants, Lobiondo votes against stimulus. There's only one problem with this: every grant he announced in between attacking President Obama's plan to create jobs was provided by a program that benefited significantly from the stimulus.

Those fire grants? From the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, which received $210 million in additional funds from the stimulus. Airport Construction? From the Airport Improvement Program, which received a $1.1 billion boost in the stimulus. And the SAFER fire funding? Well, the federal stimulus bill included a provision to waive the requirement that grant recipients must provide local matching funds, greatly expanding the reach and benefit of the SAFER program.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Frank LoBiondo and the PMA scandal.

Thurman Hart at the Star-Ledger has pointed out that a new federal lobbying scandal has New Jersey connections. Here's how Congressional Quarterly describes the problem:

More than 100 House members secured earmarks in a major spending bill for clients of a single lobbying firm — The PMA Group — known for its close ties to John P. Murtha, the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations.

“It shows you how good they were,” said Keith Ashdown, chief investigator at the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The sheer coordination of that would take an army to finish.”

PMA’s offices have been raided, and the firm closed its political action committee last week amid reports that the FBI is investigating possibly illegal campaign contributions to Murtha and other lawmakers.

And here are the names of active New Jersey politicians, via Mr. Hart, who received money from this lobbying company:

Leading the way is Rodney Frelinghuysen, who received some $16,000 between 1997 and last 2007. Bill Pascrell was given $9,500 between 2002 and last year. Rob Andrews received $8,500 between 1997 and 2004. Frank Lautenberg received $3,500 between 2002 and 2007. Steve Rothman received $3000 in 2007 and 2008. Rush Holt received $2,500 between 2000 and 2007. Bob Menendez has received only $2000, entirely in 2006. Frank LoBiondo received $1,500 in 2003 and 2004. Even Scott Garrett received $500 in 2004.

Thurman Hart is a great blogger/columnist because he says it much better than me:

Here's some things you can bank on. PMA didn't run its scam on only one defense appropriations bill. Something doesn't get this big, or this crooked, overnight. So anyone who ever received money from them is potentially implicated in trading earmarks for campaign donations. Having said that, it would be incredibly stupid for someone to trade their Congressional powers for as little as five hundred or a thousand dollars. But scandals of former years have taught us that such stupid things happen.

I emphasize that there is no evidence that Frank LoBiondo did anything illegal, and accepting (or making) donations is usually perfectly legal. But the Congressional Quarterly is listing LoBiondo as being responsible "with others" for $1,500,000 in earmarks. They don't even say what the earmark is. This could be a coincidence. Both parties are involved. I'll even say that probably this will amount to nothing. But the bottom line is that because this firm has been raided by the FBI, LoBiondo should make a statement explaining the situation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Frank LoBiondo votes for the week of February 8-14, 2009

This is, I believe, a complete record of Frank LoBiondo's votes last week in the House of Representatives. It does not include any votes in committee.

Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Frank LoBiondo's opposition to the stimulus bill (H.R. 1)was expressed in five party-line votes (70, 69, 68, 67, 66), plus another vote against a rule change that I believe is also related to passing the stimulus bill (63.) This has gotten a lot of attention here and everywhere else.

Elder Abuse Victims Act

I have neglected to praise Representative LoBiondo for joining an overwhelming bipartisan majority to vote for the Elder Abuse Victims Act:

To protect seniors in the United States from elder abuse by establishing specialized elder abuse prosecution and research programs and activities to aid victims of elder abuse, to provide training to prosecutors and other law enforcement related to elder abuse prevention and protection, to establish programs that provide for emergency crisis response teams to combat elder abuse, and for other purposes

Only an extreme right-winger would vote against it -- yes, New Jersey's own Scott Garrett.

Silly Procedural Stuff

LoBiondo went with the Republican line on a procedural vote on adjourning (60) that seems pretty meaningless. He also supported a bizarre attempt by Republicans to remove Charlie Rangel from his committee chairmanship -- strictly speaking, he voted against tabling the it (57.) Well, if Rangel's ethics problems become worse I suppose he will be proud of this, otherwise it seems like a waste of time.

Commemorative votes

Frank LoBiondo voted to honor or support Abraham Lincoln, the NAACP, National Engineers Week, Democratic Congressman John Dingell, the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King's visit to India, Miami University, Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, and National Girls and Women in Sports Day. All of these are worthy causes, and making these sorts of proclamation is part of Congress's job.

Blue Jersey: "Frank Lobiondo must be getting dizzy"

My colleague Jason Springer at Blue Jersey examines Frank LoBiondo's changing justifications for his stimulus vote. The conclusion:

That's right, it's Congress who failed, not Frank LoBiondo. Because they were so successful when his party was running the show of course. Either way, for Frank LoBiondo to try and act like all Congress had to do was put the House bill, which he already opposed, up for another vote and it would receive his support is laughable. Beware of Republicans trying to take credit for legislation they opposed.

7,900 Jobs

The White House has estimated the impact of the stimulus bill on New Jersey. The economists believe Frank LoBiondo's district will benefit to the tune of 7,900 jobs. The estimate is 100,000 jobs for the whole state of New Jersey.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Holt and LoBiondo on the value of science

Which party stands for progress? How will we make the discoveries that improve the economy, our health and safety, and national security? The dispute over the economic recovery plan has plainly revealed the differences between the political philosophy of the two parties.

Rush Holt led the fight to invest in science in the stimulus bill. Here's his speech on the floor of the House of Representatives

Holt today called science funding the "ideal investment" today:

"The key to American economic prosperity is an entrepreneurial spirit and an openness to innovation, constantly nourished by scientific research,? Holt said. ?Research funded by the federal government provided entrepreneurs with the discoveries they needed to found Google and create the iPod. These case studies show that a historic investment in science will have a lasting positive impact beyond the immediate job creation."

Meanwhile, the Republicans continue to embrace an anti-science and anti-progress philosophy. Last month, Frank LoBiondo devoted three fifths of his complaints to denouncing scientific research. Today, he continues to oppose science, lashing out at "$600 million on science research, including new types of measurement devices, and fellowship grants, and $400 million for NASA to conduct research on space exploration and landing a man on Mars." It's astonishing that LoBiondo is not aware that "building measurements devices" employs workers and is central to the scientific method. As for space exploration, I'd point that space exploration has led to numerous practical applications such as weather forecasting, except LoBiondo went out of his way to attack attempts to "improve weather forecasts" too.

Cross-Posted at Blue Jersey

LoBiondo votes against economic recovery package again

Despite appeals from local officials in his district, Frank LoBiondo proves he is a Republican first and "moderate" second as he votes against the final compromise package, which includes one of the largest tax cuts in history. Evidently tax cuts are only good when they mostly go to the rich.

Republicans are hypocrites on the stimulus

Andrew Sullivan has an important post on Frank LoBiondo and his fellow Republicans' hypocrisy on the stimulus:

Here's why they are not being intellectually honest, and Manzi's post includes the relevant facts. The GOP has passed what amounts to a spending and tax-cutting and borrowing stimulus package every year since George W. Bush came to office. They have added tens of trillions to future liabilities and they turned a surplus into a trillion dollar deficit - all in a time of growth. They then pick the one moment when demand is collapsing in an alarming spiral to argue that fiscal conservatism is non-negotiable. I mean: seriously.

The bad faith and refusal to be accountable for their own conduct for the last eight years is simply inescapable. There is no reason for the GOP to have done what they have done for the last eight years and to say what they are saying now except pure, cynical partisanship, and a desire to wound and damage the new presidency. The rest is transparent cant.

This is the Manzi post in question: It's a critique from the conservatives, by the way.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

LoBiondo outraged

Here's a good story. The Press of AC tells us about how the FAA allowed a hacker to steal personal information for thousands of employees in Atlantic City. Our congressman is rightly outraged and put out this statement:

“I am angered and outraged that an extensive security breach of the FAA computers and its employees and retirees’ personal information could be successfully executed – have we not learned anything from the security breaches at other agencies of the federal government?” said LoBiondo. “I will seek answers from the FAA at tomorrow’s hearing about the agency’s response to this discovery, how it will adequately protect the FAA Tech Center and ACY Tower employees’ information from being improperly used, and how they will prevent a similar breach from happening again.”

I am pleased by Frank LoBiondo's strong response here.

Though I do notice that the newspaper says this is not the first problem:

The union complained a few years ago that workers received anti-union mailings using names and addresses that appeared to have been generated from FAA files, Waters said. AFSCME complained to the FAA and the Transportation Department, but no action resulted, he said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Magazzu calls on LoBiondo to vote for stimulus

The Daily Journal is reporting that Democrat Louis Magazzu is asking Frank LoBiondo to vote for the stimulus. We know it has the votes to pass regardlesss, but Magazzu says:

“It will be a lot easier for the officials of Cumberland County to advocate for our fair share of the stimulus funds if our congressman was a partner in developing the program than if he was an opponent"

I agree 100% with Magazzu.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Yes on basketball, no on actual votes

Though Frank LoBiondo is still only one-for-seven in key votes, I see he interested in playing basketball with Obama. As the Gloucester County Times

But when the president visited Capitol Hill to discuss the economic stimulus package with House Republicans, LoBiondo briefly mentioned to Obama that they share a passion for basketball, a hint that could lay the groundwork for a pickup game, said LoBiondo's spokesman, Jason Galanes.

I wonder if our Congressman mentioned that he and his colleagues would all vote against the stimulus.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Will LoBiondo support Obama with his vote?

Last month, Dan Walsh of the Press of Atlantic City noted LoBiondo's record of voting against George W. Bush (though my sense is that he was always there for the key close votes) and the interesting question of what LoBiondo will do during the Obama administration: Will he support Obama with his vote? Will he join with Obama to undermine liberals? Will he be forgotten as conservative Republicans take the lead?

Here's the case that LoBiondo will support Obama from his spokesman:

But once President-elect Barack Obama takes office this year, LoBiondo could find himself among Republicans voting most often with the president.

"I think you'll see President-elect Obama reaching across to moderate members of the House, and I think Congressman LoBiondo certainly fits that bill," LoBiondo spokesman Jason Galanes said.

But in the next breath, you get the opposite message:

Galanes said[:] "Of course, you also have a Congress that's being run by (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid.

Notice that everyone else is responsible for reaching out to LoBiondo? So far, LoBiondo is one for seven in key votes. I'd bet LoBiondo is a big disappointment to Obama, but the record will show the truth.

First Post

It seems to me that each member of Congress deserves to have a blog following his votes and statements. So, this will be my effort for Frank LoBiondo of NJ2. There's not much here yet. For now, I highly recommend Blue Jersey for the progressive viewpoint, where I am a Staff Writer. The best papers in the district are Press of Atlantic City and Today's Sunbeam. The best statewide news sites for New Jersey are and PolitickerNJ.