Sunday, March 28, 2010

Frank Lobiondo angry over F-35

I found this video at "War News Updates" of Frank LoBiondo getting angry over the F-35. [Actually, LoBiondo's staff posted the video.]



Look at the disaster NASA was lead into over years (and blaming Obama or Bush for NASA's manned space flight gap is missing the big picture.) While I'm not sure whether LoBiondo is blaming the right people, and I don't think the F-22 was successful, it's good he's complaining.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An opportunity for LoBiondo

There's a lot of perfectly legitimate opposition to the health care bill, embodied by Representative Frank LoBiondo himself -- his decision to vote no. That he and I disagree is something we can talk about. (He uses votes, speeches and press releases, and I have a blog.)

But there's a big difference in a republic between saying NO and calling for acts of violence. Cut gas lines, bricks thrown through windows, faxed nooses. An atmosphere of mob violence is being created as some right-wing extremisms follow their absurd accusations of socialism and fascism to the "logical" conclusion of revolution and violence. Some will become terrorists as they imagine they are facing a tyrannical government. It's not the vast majority I'm talking about, but a few. Not only Muslims suicidally ram planes into government buildings. And to a liberal, the mob violence of the 1870s-1960s used to oppress blacks suggests this not as foreign a desire as we'd like to think. (And no doubt a conservative will be quick to point to leftist violence here and around the world.)

Frank LoBiondo is not responsible for this -- I think he's more afraid of the Tea Party than aligned with them, and I haven't seen such extreme language from him -- but he has the opportunity to condemn anti-health care reform violence. Call for disappointed conservatives to express their unhappiness at the ballot box or peaceful demonstrations, not violence. Some thing very dangerous is being deliberately unleashed in America, and no moderate, "Main Street" Republican can be comfortable with it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LoBiondo and the benefits of health care reform he opposes

Frank LoBiondo has whole-heartedly opposed the Democrats' health care efforts and his final statement after his no vote is clear:

U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today issued the following statement prior to voting NO on the healthcare reform bill:

“Today’s vote is historic in that it is a missed opportunity to truly reign in health insurance costs, increase quality of care, and really improve the healthcare system for countless Americans.

“President Obama and the Congress could have and should have crafted bipartisan solutions to make healthcare more affordable and more accessible for everyone. We could have and should have already enacted common-sense policies such as allowing insurance to be bought across state lines, repealing the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies, medical malpractice reform, and removing restrictions on coverage for those with preexisting conditions. The Democrat leadership made the calculated decision against this approach and thus, we have now arrived at this severely-flawed healthcare bill before us today...


Yes, I love the use of the bold, ALL-CAPS, underlined "NO" too. I do wish Republicans just say they want to mostly deregulate health care insurance -- when you think about it, that what's "bought across state lines" is intended to lead to. It would be nice to be honest about it, but I guess it is about as popular when you phrase it thta was as "privatizing Social Security." I also wanted to comment that "removing restrictions on those with preexisting conditions" has the drawback, according to most economists, that many people won't buy insurance until after they get a big sickness. That leads to the collapse of the system as only sick, expensive people buy insurance, and that is why Obama supported the individual mandate to buy insurance even though like LoBiondo he knows it is better politics to condemn it.

The opposite view of LoBiondo is that this reform will help millions of people get the health care they need, and reform many of the worst practices of the insurance industry. An Analysis of health care reform's effects on LoBiondo's NJ2 district reveals:

  • Improve coverage for 447,000 residents with health insurance.
  • Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 150,000 families and 15,900 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
  • Improve Medicare for 113,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
  • Extend coverage to 30,000 uninsured residents.
  • Guarantee that 9,200 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Protect 1,600 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
  • Allow 49,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.
  • Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 37 community health centers.
  • Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $47 million annually.


That is a lot to be proud of, even if LoBiondo says NO and tells us instead to deregulate to whatever South Dakota wants.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LoBiondo surrenders to Tea Party, abandons his energy views

The big news -- though sadly not that surprising -- is that Frank LoBiondo has surrendered to the most extreme elements of his party (my bold):

Although they're upset with his "aye" vote on cap and trade, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Bridgeton) says he welcomes primary opposition, and is encouraged by the organizing efforts of the Tea Party movement.

"I think it's great," says the 16-year veteran of the U.S. House. "A lot of people are energized, and when people are energized, we're all better off."

"If the cap and trade vote came up again, I wouldn't support it," adds LoBiondo, who would like to see the country develop a coherent energy policy - without the tax penalties included in the bill he originally supported.


He couldn't have put it any more plainly unless he was wearing a "white flag" on his lapel. I am disappointed but again not surprised.

It does show that LoBiondo had a lot of projection going on when he yelled at Lou Magazzu:

I believe this nation is on a disastrous march. And now Democrats are losing votes because of the policies of extremists in your party.


According to LoBiondo's previously expressed views, our energy policy was on a disastrous course but now he has flipped his vote because of extremists in the Republican party. Sad to blame someone else for it. After all, cap and trade is a Republican idea:

I'm just old enough to remember when policies like cap-and-trade were quintessentially conservative. As an econ undergrad in the 1980s, cap-and-trade was the leading light in a suite of then radical, new, market-based regulatory ideas propounded by right-of-center economists. These new market-based approaches, they argued, would achieve superior amelioration of environmental problems without the heavy-handed inefficiencies of the "command-and-control" limits embraced by liberals in the 1970s. During my undergrad years, and the the years after, there was a decent debate about the policy and economic merits of the competing approaches to regulation. I imagine someone with Lexis Nexis could even find historical documents (Galaxy Quest!) of elected Republicans advocating cap-and-trade approaches as a conservative alternative to old-fashioned, unfair "liberalism."

Fast forward to 2009, and I confess I still find myself amazed that the conservative policy won the argument... Ironically, while their proposals were winning in the marketplace of ideas, the Republican party has abandoned the field of competition and retreated into an extremism that would probably shock even the 1964 edition of Barry Goldwater. Where you might have seen someone like Jack Kemp endorsing cap-and-trade as a sexy new idea 25 years ago, now the very same policy approach is crazy communism to today's Republicans. The policy hasn't changed, but the Republican party sure has. What was once a center-right party looking for innovative new ideas (like cap-and-trade), it is now a right-of-everyone-but-the-lunatics rump, mistrustful of any and all public policy and clinging only to the irrational scraps that feed their hysterical, anti-scientific state of denial. Kind of sad, really.


As LoBiondo has been in Congress since 1994, he really needs to look in the mirror and ask how he let this happen.

too bad

It's not even history, just the past, but I get the impression that LoBiondo could have been Lt. Gov if he had wanted it:

"Chris called me a couple of times, and all I can tell you is I was flattered," LoBiondo says. "My passion is with the federal issues: job security, aviation and armed services and transportation. I don't think you can switch to the state level that easily with the federal focus I have."


I guess my comment at the time wasn't far off: "I can't help but doubt that LoBiondo would give up a safe seat for the opportunity to serve in a minor role for 8 years." Still, it's too bad it's not an open seat election this year. I can always start a new blog after all. :)

State of the District speech

Representative Frank LoBiondo gave his State of the District speech a few weeks ago. News accounts help us understand his point of view, or at least the point of view he expresses to the Chamber of Commerce. Good accounts are at nj.com, Shore News Today, Daily Journal, and the Press of the Atlantic City.

As far as I can tell, he stood by his previous votes against the stimulus and TARP, condemned Democrats, and expressed concern about unemployment. He also pointed to a government project that will create 100 jobs locally as good, which seems bit contradictory to the stimulus-bashing to me, but I wasn't there.

He also said the big banks are too big. I'll be interested if that view ends up in legislation he can support.

Some of what he calls criticisms captures the big issue of the stimulus: much of it simply offset state budget cuts. So he complains that New Jersey would have funded the highway project anyway, but New Jersey and its transportation fund is broke in the real world. Construction and teaching jobs really were saved in my opinion.

He apparently referred to reconciliation, which has been used many times including by him, as the "nuclear option" which is simply an outright lie if he said it.

Anyway, it's too bad LoBiondo doesn't make his speech available online in print or video format as far as I can tell. Very few people in the district want to pay the Chamber of Commerce to hear their own Congressman.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Something to think about: Coast Guard vs. Missile Defense

Frank LoBiondo has been complaining about funding to the Coast Guard. I think I said the money had all been spent in his Iraq adventure, but Think Progress has a better comparison when discussing missile defense:

However, pointing out the factual inadequacies of missile defense hits the right wing at its emotional core. Its support for such a wasteful and strategically na├»ve system has almost become theological in nature. The right does not care about the system’s opportunity costs (we spend more on it than the entire Coast Guard), or the program’s effectiveness (there have been no realistic tests), or the implications of its development (a new arms race). Instead, for the right this is purely a faith-based defense program, making anyone who can effectively challenge it the target of a witch-hunt.


But the right doesn't care about the Coast Guard, which helps actual people, as much as its dreams of winning a fantasy Third World War with a fantasy weapon system. All these billions later and we don't have a system that really works. If LoBiondo were really serious about the Coast Guard, he'd look to this wasteful program. There's more to look at. Writing in the NY Times, Lawrance Korb and Steve Duggan compared the Coast Guard budget to the F-35:

The solution is simple: we need a unified national security budget. That would let lawmakers see that, for example, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a next-generation aircraft that is not needed in the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, is projected to consume more money than the entire Coast Guard in 2011. Yet the F-35 program has suffered so many cost and technical problems that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just fired its manager. Such inefficiencies and disparities are obvious when compared directly, but they get blurred when the Coast Guard and the other services are considered under different budgets and by different sets of Congressional committees.


Frank LoBiondo, though, has attacked any reform of the F-35 program. I think he just doesn't make the connection between the extraordinary waste of these defense projects and the hit to the Coast Guard -- though at least we can hope the F-35 will work, unlike missile defense and the F-22 fighter and the Deepwater cutters.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will LoBiondo vote to ban all earmarks?

House Democratic leaders have just announced there will be no more earmarks to private contractors (earmakrs to non-profits would be okay).

Republicans including Representative Frank LoBiondo are considering going one further:

House Republicans praised the Democrats for taking this key step but are considering swearing off the practice. "We're going to have to make a decision," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told his colleagues at a closed-door meeting Wednesday, according to one attendee. "Are we really willing to put it all on the line to win this thing?"

They have scheduled a special gathering Thursday to debate whether they are willing, on their own, to not seek any earmarks. Previous efforts by Republicans -- who oversaw the dramatic inflation of the use of earmarks during their 12-year majority -- have failed.


I personally think earmarks can be good or bad, and that certainly John McCain's apparent belief that they are important part of the deficit is simply wrong. After all, LoBiondo is not shy about funds he brings to the district, and he's right. So I'm curious what LoBiondo will do in this situation, though I suppose we will only know what the majority of Republicans decide.

Update (3-13-2010): Apparently House Republicans did vote to ban all earmarks for one year. One year? Until they take control? Well, it is still a significant vote.

Biggest Contributors: Unions

I took a look at Open Secrets contributors data for Frank LoBiondo and it reminded me that he relies heavily on union support. Indeed, certain unions actively discourage any Democratic challenger.

Of course Lockheed-Martin makes an appearance too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

LoBiondo joins Democrats to Prevent Child Abuse by School Officials

Frank Lobiondo was one of two dozen Republicans who joined most Democrats in voting 262-153 for H.R. 4247. Let me quote Down With Tyranny:

Yesterday's D v R showdown in the House wasn't about healthcare reform or even about the dirty filthy banksters stealing the national wealth. It wasn't about Afghanistan or about taking the ability of corporations to purchase the services of wily politicians. But it was a showdown that went to highlight one of the basic differences in worldview between conservatives and humans...


If God were to strike down all the obstructionists in the Senate and it were to become law, it would provide the first comprehensive protections for children against abusive disciplinary actions by schools.


Here's the NYT summary:

The legislation stems in part from a government report last year that found evidence that hundreds of children — from preschool age to high school — had been traumatized or physically harmed by being held down or locked alone in rooms, some even tied to chairs. Many had developmental problems or were in special needs programs; many others were in regular classes. Some children have died, apparently because of overly aggressive discipline, according to numerous reports over the last decade.

The bill would prohibit, except in cases of imminent danger, any restraint that restricts breathing; any mechanical restraint, like straps; and chemical restraint, by drugs other than those prescribed by a child’s doctor. It allows for “time outs” but not for a child to be locked in a room, away from supervision. It requires states to keep careful records of incidents of restraint and seclusion, and for schools to report incidents promptly to parents.


I'm very proud Frank LoBiondo voted for this legislation. Actually, all the New Jersey Republican House members did, except ultra-right-winger Scott Garrett.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

LoBiondo votes against tax cuts for businesses to hire new workers

The House of Representatives voted today on the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act. This would provide tax credits to help businesses hire workers during this terrible recession where we are suffering from 10% unemployment. It also nclueds highway money which New Jersey desperately needs. Here's a description of the jobs bill, which is one of many pending:

This $15 billion measure includes: A payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers, to create some 300,000 jobs and an income tax credit of $1,000 for businesses that retain these employees. Tax cuts to spur new investment by small businesses to help them expand and hire more workers. Extension of the Highway Trust Fund allowing for tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment Provisions -- modeled after the Build America Bonds program - to make it easier for states to borrow for infrastructure projects, such as school construction and energy projects. This bipartisan job creation measure passed by a vote of 70-28 in the Senate last week, and is one in a series of measures this Congress will take to restore the American economy.


Sadly, Frank LoBiondo voted against the bill, even though it enjoyed overwhelming support in the Senate. What happened to his concerns about unemployment? What about his love of tax cuts?

LoBiondo: THIS IS NOT ACCURATE

Jason Springer observes Frank LoBiondo is worried about Cape May County:

Frank LoBiondo is doing his best to avoid a primary challenge from the teabaggers and probably spit out his coffee when he read in the Atlantic City Press that he had taken sides in who the Cape May Republican committee should support for Freeholder.


Here is the LoBiondo e-mail obtained by Shore News Today:

March 3, 2010

To The Cape May County Regular Republican Party,

The Press of Atlantic City reported that Freeholder Director Beyel said I endorsed John McCann ("Beyel said U.S. Rep Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, also endorses the slate”). THIS IS NOT ACCURATE.

I was not part of the decision making process by the Cape May County Republican organization. I was not asked for my opinion nor consulted with in any discussions concerning the party's decision not to endorse Jerry at any time.

Once I found out about it as the rest of you did, I made it clear I would not be involved in the committee preference vote process.

But now it is being reported that I am. I AM NOT. My position has not changed--it is an internal county organization issue

I have been in contact with Chairman Von Savage, Freeholder Thornton and Leader McCann.

If you have any questions, please call or email me at lobiondoforcongress@comcast.net.

Sincerely,

Frank LoBiondo


Nice to see LoBiondo is in touch with modern culture and knows how to SHOUT USING ALL CAPS!