Sunday, May 24, 2009

SMART

I hadn't seen this before, but it seems Frank LoBiondo is part of a group (SMART) to advocate for Science and Technology funding to the Mid-Atlantic states.

The SMART regional S&T initiative is a Congressional initiative to regionalize S&T advocacy across all technology topics and disciplines within the Mid-Atlantic region.

The SMART mission is the integration of regional Science & Technology activities for issues, events & projects among the SMART Congressional Caucus (8 Senators and 41 Representatives), the Federal Executive Branch DC HQs, our International Allies, the four State governments (Executive & Legislative branches of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) and the regional technical community facilitated by SMART, a Not For Profit (NFP) company.


Here's the membership:

The Congressional Caucus support is lead by Congressman William Pascrell (D-NJ). Of special note, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was raised in Baltimore, MD. Other SMART Caucus Members of Italian ancestry are Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (D-NJ), Robert Brady (D-PA) and Mike Doyle (D-PA).


(Yes, the article/press release is posted at a Greek-American site but talks about Italian-Americans. Both groups have a strong and proud presence in the Mid-Atantic.)

Their website is smartstates.com.

Kurkowski on LoBiondo's Record: Seniority

Dave Kurkowksi's 2008 challenge to Frank LoBiondo was unsuccessful, but some of his criticisms were very important, so I think they are worth preserving. This is one of Kurkowski's press releases, in which he points out Lobiondo's claims of seniority are exaggerated at best.

THE TRUTH ABOUT FRANK LOBIONDO: BOGUS CLAIMS OF CONGRESSIONAL “SENIORITY,” A SYSTEM HE AND HIS PARTY ABOLISHED YEARS AGO; A DEAD-LAST RANKING AMONG ALL NEW JERSEY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS… AND THREE LAWS PASSED IN 14 YEARS

Democratic challenger Dave Kurkowski reacted with surprise to the statements of his opponent, Frank LoBiondo, in last Sunday’s Gloucester County Times, where LoBiondo and his supporters claimed he would be more effective than Kurkowski due to his “seniority.”

“At best this is pure bluster, at worst it is outright manipulation,” Kurkowski said. “My opponent has been ranked as the least effective member of Congress from the entire state of New Jersey1 and he appears to be trying to manipulate voters into thinking he is more effective simply because he’s been in Washington so long,” Kurkowski said. “The truth is that the seniority system was eliminated by his own Newt Gingrich Republicans years ago.”

The seniority system rewarded members of Congress with power and influence according to how long they had remained in Washington. Under the reform rules adopted by Newt Gingrich and the 1994 Republicans, including LoBiondo, party leaders choose who will receive important positions based on their effectiveness, regardless of seniority. And “effective” is not a word that can be used to describe Frank LoBiondo. “My opponent’s ineffectiveness is staggering,” Kurkowski said. “He can’t run on his record, because he does not have one. In 14 years he has succeeded in authoring only three pieces of legislation that became law.2 Fourteen years and three laws—it boggles the mind. What is he doing down there in Washington?”

“LoBiondo is talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to his status in Congress.” Kurkowski said. “On the one hand he points to ‘seniority’ as a bogus claim to his ‘effectiveness’…and on the other hand he hides behind anonymity as a way to avoid accepting accountability for his ineffectiveness.” LoBiondo recently told constituents on a telephone conference call that his excuse for being ineffective was that he was “just one of 435” members of Congress. “He wants it both ways, and after 14 years, enough is enough,” Kurkowski said. “This is political double-talk at its worst.”

The Democratic challenger also pointed to the fact that LoBiondo justified breaking his term limit pledge by saying he would be more effective if he stayed in Washington longer. “This is embarrassing,” Kurkowski said. “The people of South Jersey deserve better. In these difficult times, with a sinking economy, an energy crisis, and an unsafe world, we can’t depend on somebody who’s so completely ineffective.” LoBiondo was not only ranked last among New Jersey members of Congress—behind many other Representatives who have shorter tenures and lesser “seniority”— he also ranked a dismal 377th in the House of Representatives.3

“He can’t do much about jobs from 377th place,” Kurkowski said. “He can’t do much about gas prices from 377th place. He can’t do much about the threat of terrorism from 377th place. And he can’t do much for South Jersey from his spot dead last among our entire state Congressional delegation.”

In fact, LoBiondo was demoted on the Coast Guard subcommittee, which he chaired for years under Republican majorities. Rather than serving as the ranking minority member after his party lost control of Congress in 2006, he was bumped down to fifth place. HE WAS NOT REWARDED FOR HIS YEARS HEADING THE COAST GUARD COMMITTEE. IF ANYTHING, HE WAS PUNISHED. “As I will be making clear in the days to come, Kurkowski said, “this is probably due to the fact that during his time as Chairman he oversaw the ‘Deepwater’ fiasco that cost taxpayers over $20 billion.”

Kurkowski has challenged LoBiondo to a series of public debates in order to question him on his record, as well as his disastrous lack of oversight on the Deepwater program —which provoked national attention and an intensely critical investigation by the Government Accountability Office.4 Kurkowski is planning the first of a series of news conferences to reveal the truth about Frank LoBiondo’s failed political tenure. Details of time and place will be forthcoming.

A successful businessman and member of the Cape May City Council, Kurkowski is leading the first serious challenge to LoBiondo.

Here are the footnotes:

1 http://www.congress.org/congressorg/power_rankings/state.tt?state=NJ&submit.x=6&submit.y=8&submit=GO (accessed September 8, 2008). The Congressional Power Rankings are non-partisan measures that take into account a Politician’s standing in Congress; committee and subcommittee rankings; success with advancing legislation and amendments; indirect influence in caucuses and by other means; and other factors. For full details, see http://www.congress.org/congressorg/power_rankings/backgrounder.tt (accessed September 8, 2008).

2 H.R. 170, 106th Congress, “The Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act.” Signed by the President Dec. 12, 1999; became Public Law No. 106-168. The third bill is H.R. 171, 106th Congress, “To extend the authorization for the Coastal Heritage Trail in the State of New Jersey.” Signed by the President on April 8, 1999; became Public Law 110-18. Tally does not include symbolic resolutions or naming post offices.

3 http://www.congress.org/congressorg/power_rankings/overall.tt (accessed September 8, 2008).

4 “Challenges Affecting Deepwater Asset Deployment and Management Efforts to Address Them,” June 2007. GAO-07-874.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

LoBiondo and Christie

Frank LoBiondo joined Chris Christie for a radio interview. Unfortunately, WVLT hasn't put up a video or audio clip.

LoBiondo on gambling and Atlantic City:

The congressman criticized a proposal to put video lottery terminals at the Meadowlands complex in North Jersey, indicating it would injure the casino industry. He also panned the idea of putting the proposal on a statewide referendum.


He also complained that South Jersey is "forgotten" which is certainly a complaint I have too, but in truth Steve Sweeney and Jeff Van Drew have been playing major roles in the State Senate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Credit Card Vote

The big credit card vote yesterday saw Frank LoBiondo vote in favor of credit card reform, and also the "Coburn Amendment" which allows loaded guns in national parks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Frank LoBiondo and the future of moderates in the Republican Party

Today's Sunbeam has a good article interviewing Frank LoBiondo and others on the future of centrists in the Republican Party. First, I agree with Leonard Lance that talk of the demise of the Republican party is "absolute nonsense." But let's go to the quotes from LoBiondo. Unfortunately, the links will die after a few weeks because the publisher does not think it is worthwhile to keep an archive accessible.

"The pendulum swings," LoBiondo said. "The Democrats went over the line, as far as voters were concerned, in the 90s. Republicans lost focus over the years when they were in the majority, and the pendulum swung back.

"From my perspective, with my colleagues, we get it. We understand the public is not happy with the initiatives the party took, and we are attempting to regroup. We are attempting to offer solutions to problems that are presented to us."


This is obviously the right strategy for both Republicans and the country. I must say I haven't seen much of it, but it's early days.

More interesting is his gentle criticisms of his conservative colleagues, who he says used to listen to him and other moderates but don't anymore:

Gradually, he said, things have changed, and today it seems like some Republicans want ideologically pure policies.

"That's not the way anything works," LoBiondo said. "If somebody wants to be ideologically pure 100 percent, and is comfortable with not being able to get anything done in a very weak minority, that's going to be the consequence."


Again, this is obviously true. Still, I wonder what he expected when he voted for Clinton's impeachment -- after polls showed people didn't want it and his fellow Republicans lost seats. Plainly he was just empowering the extremist factions in his party. Indeed, it's almost certain that moderates were included in important discussions in the early years after 1994 because Democrat Bill Clinton was President, not because LoBiondo's views were valued. I wonder if he realizes he murdered his faction's influence with decisions like these over the years.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

LoBiondo opposes military reform

Everyone knows by now that Democrat President Obama and Republican Secretary of Defense Gates seek to reform the military by increasing military spending but changing the weapons orders to match the military's actual needs: unconventional wars like Iraq and Afghanistan, not a World War III fought in Central Europe. Naturally, New Jersey Congressman Frank LoBiondo objects:

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., said plans to stop building F-22 Raptors and cut back the planned F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet could jeopardize Air Force and Air Guard readiness.


It's an exercise for the reader to guess if this is because:

1. Lockheed is a major donor for LoBiondo
2. LoBiondo thinks the Cold War may turn hot at any moment.
3. LoBiondo doesn't care that the money is better spent on weapons that are actually used.
4. Something else?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A revealing story: What will LoBiondo do on health care?

It's a story that doesn't mention Frank LoBiondo, but since he has embraced the Republican "Party of No" strategy, this Time magazine story on health care reform is very important to understanding him:

When Barack Obama informed congressional Republicans last month that he would support a controversial parliamentary move to protect health-care reform from a filibuster in the Senate, they were furious. That meant the bill could pass with a simple majority of 51 votes, eliminating the need for any GOP support for the bill. Where, they demanded, was the bipartisanship the President had promised? So, right there in the Cabinet Room, the President put a proposal on the table, according to two people who were present. Obama said he was willing to curb malpractice awards, a move long sought by the Republicans and certain to bring strong opposition from the trial lawyers who fund the Democratic Party.

What, he wanted to know, did the Republicans have to offer in return?

Nothing, it turned out. Republicans were unprepared to make any concessions, if they had any to make.


Whether it's due to their political philosophy or political opportunism, Republicans have no interest in making government work. We saw this with Bush, and we see it again in their no votes. LoBiondo has been happily riding that train.

Will any Republicans pursue compromises? Where is LoBiondo on health care?