On Thursday evening, viewers had a choice of watching Sandra Palin and Joe Biden in a televised debate from St. Louis, or attending in person a debate among freeholder candidates at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology.

Timely debates show are always a service to informed voters who can see how the candidates think on their feet.

Unfortunately, the voters may get no such service in one key contest next month.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., has accepted just one debate against his Republican challenger, former U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer. It will be 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 on NJN television, just three days before the Nov. 4 election. That's after most absentee ballots will have been filed, and long after voters will have been bombarded with commercials by the candidates.

Lautenberg's acceptance is, in a word, unacceptable. It seems designed mostly to silence GOP and editorial-page critics who had ripped the incumbent for not accepting a single debate.

When Lautenberg ran against U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-1st. Dist., for the party's Senate nomination this spring, Andrews wanted too many debates. Lautenberg was justifiably criticized for accepting none, until late in the race.

In the end, there was one TV debate and one radio debate in the week before the primary. Lautenberg has continued his pattern of ducking from a far-larger electorate this fall. With just one last-minute debate, he's inviting questions about his own viability for office that have been mostly whispered until now.

Republican "spinners" say Lautenberg is "too old" to be on display to constituents. However, that was not the case this spring. While not as quick with a verbal jab as Andrews, the 84-year-old held up his end of the sparring quite well.

It's more likely that Lautenberg is employing Debate Avoidance 101 because it further marginalizes Zimmer, whose campaign has had severe problems attracting media attention and message money. Regardless, voters deserve more face-to-face interaction than one last-weekend meeting can provide.

Lautenberg's campaign says it will OK more than one debate, but time is running out. It should agree to two more, both of them well before Nov. 1.

Lawrenceville, NJ - U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer today criticized Senator Frank Lautenberg for a $1.5 billion earmark to the wealthiest metropolitan area in the country. 

 

This week, the U.S. Senate passed the railroad reauthorization bill (H.R 2095) which included a $1.5 billion earmark to fund the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority over the next 10 years. The Metro serves the District of Columbia and its wealthy suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia.  (HR 2095, Title VI) 

Zimmer issued the following statement:

"Senator Lautenberg is certainly a generous man. Too bad it's New Jersey taxpayers' money he seems so eager to lavish on others, even those who don't need it.  At a time when New Jersey taxpayers are facing an energy crisis, an affordability crisis, a transportation funding crisis and a financial crisis, Senator Lautenberg is spending $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars to fund a transit system that serves the wealthiest metropolitan area in the country. 

"New Jersey taxpayers deserve a U.S. Senator who will be an effective advocate on important issues facing our state and our nation.  I will be that Senator.  I will fight to rein in government spending and make the interests of New Jersey my top priority." 

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Trenton, NJ - At a press conference today U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer condemned the multi-billion dollar bailout the of the nation's financial system passed by the Senate.

Zimmer released the following statement:

 

"Yesterday taxpayers across the country were asked to hold their noses, reach into their pockets and pony up $700 billion or more to bailout Wall Street.  This on top of $200 to $300 billion to bailout Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

"We are at this point because our elected officials in Washington -- including Senator Frank Lautenberg -- did not provide effective oversight of the marketplace. 

"These elected officials created a system of private profit and socialized risk and allowed Wall Street to run wild.  Now, thanks to politicians in Washington, Main Street is bailing out Wall Street.

"Senator Lautenberg had 24 years to protect us against this crisis.  During those 24 years he did nothing to avert it.  In fact, he helped bring it about. In a job that requires leadership and good sense, he demonstrated neither. 

"It's time for a change.   As your Senator, I will work to bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street and Washington so we can avoid similar financial catastrophes in the future.

"There is no question that urgent and decisive federal action is needed to keep the current financial crisis from triggering a wider economic downturn, but the bill passed last night by the Senate is the wrong remedy." 

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kristen Hainen October 2, 2008 732-491-9705 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ZIMMER CONDEMNS LAUTENBERG VOTE ON BAILOUT

Trenton, NJ – At a press conference U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer today condemned the multi-billion dollar bailout the of the nation’s financial system passed by the Senate.

Zimmer released the following statement:

“Yesterday taxpayers across the country were asked to hold their noses, reach into their pockets and pony up $700 billion or more to bailout Wall Street. This on top of $200 to $300 billion to bailout Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“We are at this point because our elected officials in Washington -- including Senator Frank Lautenberg -- did not provide effective oversight of the marketplace.

“These elected officials created a system of private profit and socialized risk and allowed Wall Street to run wild. Now, thanks to politicians in Washington, Main Street is bailing out Wall Street.

“Senator Lautenberg had 24 years to protect us against this crisis. During those 24 years he did nothing to avert it. In fact, he helped bring it about. In a job that requires leadership and good sense, he demonstrated neither.

“It’s time for a change. As your Senator, I will work to bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street and Washington so we can avoid similar financial catastrophes in the future.

“There is no question that urgent and decisive federal action is needed to keep the current financial crisis from triggering a wider economic downturn, but the bill passed last night by the Senate is the wrong remedy.

-- It calls for taxpayers to pay 700 billion dollars for toxic securities worth less than their purchase price. It bails out the same corporate executives who made bad bets and cooked the books, as well as the stockholders and bondholders who financed them. This is corporate welfare, plain and simple.

--It gives the Treasury Secretary nearly complete discretion to engage in arbitrary transactions rife with conflicts of interest and cozy relationships. --It does not effectively limit lavish salaries and golden parachutes for executives of companies that are bailed out. 2

--It makes the U.S. Treasury partially responsible for managing mortgages on homes throughout the country -- It does nothing to close the regulatory loopholes that gave rise to this crisis.

--And it does nothing to help credit-worthy homeowners renegotiate their mortgages to avoid foreclosure.

“A better plan would have required financial institutions to give real value for taxpayer dollars, in the form of secured debt, preferred stock with warrants or risk-based insurance premiums. It would not have rewarded the very people who caused this mess. It would have done much more to help homeowners who played by the rules. And it would have taken significant steps to assure that never again would Main Street be forced to bail out Wall Street.

“There are good provisions in the bailout bill, such as the expansion of FDIC insurance coverage to $250,000 per account. And I support most of the so-called tax extenders, including a year-long continuation of partial relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. However, these extenders have become an annual occurrence in Congress and would have been passed in any event before the tax benefits lapsed. It’s always a sign of the inherent weakness of a bill when it has to be supplemented with sweeteners or linked to must-pass legislation in order to get the necessary votes. And you can be sure a bill has major defects when the strongest argument for passing it is that it is better than doing nothing.

“Not only did Senator Lautenberg fail to speak out as this financial storm was gathering; he helped bring it about. In 1992, Frank Lautenberg voted for a bill that allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to dominate the secondary mortgage market by giving them preferential treatment and establishing a weak regulator, low capital standards and the freedom to engage in speculative activity that would endanger their financial well-being and the well-being of the global economy. I was one of only 37 members of Congress to vote no on that bill.

“In subsequent years, Frank Lautenberg never spoke out against the regulatory changes that resulted in Fannie, Freddie and other institutions buying, guaranteeing and packaging huge amounts on mortgage loans made to borrowers who simply could not afford to repay them.

“In 1999 Frank Lautenberg voted for the Financial Services Modernization Act without demanding reforms in the oversight of the hybrid financial institutions authorized by that legislation.

“In 2000 Frank Lautenberg voted for legislation that created the Enron loophole and ended effective regulation of credit default swaps, which figured prominently in the demise of AIG.

“And in this decade Frank Lautenberg did nothing to assist those who tried to reform Fannie and Freddie before they collapsed at a cost to the taxpayers of hundreds of billions of dollars.

“For Senator Lautenberg, this bill is the capstone for a career devoted to excessive spending, government bailouts and corporate welfare. It makes the Bridge to Nowhere look like a Tinkertoy. New Jerseyans will, as always, pay more than their fair share of the tab. 3

“Frank Lautenberg and I have starkly different records and philosophies on this issue. New Jerseyans have a right to hear Frank Lautenberg defend his actions and his beliefs. But during this entire crisis he was almost completely silent, making only the most perfunctory and partisan public statements and not participating in the debate in committee, on the floor of the Senate or in any public forum. Today I call on Frank Lautenberg to meet me next week at a time and place of his choosing to debate this, the most important issue confronting New Jersey and America, before the TV cameras from which he has hidden all year. New Jerseyans deserve no less.”

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Lawrenceville, NJ - U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer's "Waste of the Week" campaign this week highlights an $50 million earmark for an indoor rainforest to be built at taxpayer expense with Senator Frank Lautenberg's support.

The $50 million earmark for an indoor rainforest project in Coralville, Iowa was added in conference to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill in late January 2004.  (Citizens Against Government Waste 2004 Pig Book, and The Incredible Shrinking Rain Forest, Michael Judge, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2006) 

To complete this five-acre project-which would be the world's largest enclosed rainforest-it is estimated that $225 million would be needed.  (Citizens Against Government Waste 2004 Pig Book, and The Incredible Shrinking Rain Forest, Michael Judge, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2006) 

"Senator Lautenberg has a long record of helping other lawmakers use the pork-barrel game to channel funds to support extravagant pet projects in their states. This $50 million tropical boondoggle does absolutely nothing to resolve the energy crisis or help the environment. 

"For 24 years, Senator Lautenberg has been taking money out of the pockets of New Jersey taxpayers to fund wasteful pork for his friends, and it has got to stop.  New Jersey taxpayers are in the midst of an energy crisis, an affordability crisis and now a financial crisis.  Is an indoor rainforest really a priority worthy of federal funds? 

"We need to elect fiscally responsible officials who know how to rein in government spending.  As your Senator, I will be dedicated to putting New Jersey taxpayers first, cutting wasteful spending and bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington." 

Zimmer's "Waste of the Week" campaign is designed to highlight Senator Frank Lautenberg's record of supporting wasteful spending and pork-barrel politics at the expense of New Jersey taxpayers.  Previous Wastes of the Week were the $300 billion Farm Bill, the $389 million Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, a $225,000 pamphlet on beaver damage, various Monuments to Me spending projects, the Teapot Museum in North Carolina, the Joplin, Missouri interchange, Amtrak's Sunset Limited and renovations for the Scottish Rite Theatre in Collingswood, NJ. 

 

Waste of the Week, #1: THE FARM BILL

Waste of the Week, #2: BRIDGE TO NOWHERE

Waste of the Week, #3: BEAVER DAMAGE MITIGATION

Waste of the Week, #4: MONUMENTS TO ME

Waste of the Week, #5: N.C. TEAPOT MUSEUM 

Waste of the Week, #6: JOPLIN, MO INTERCHANGE

 

Waste of the Week, #7: SUNSET LIMITED

Waste of the Week, #8: SCOTTISH RITE THEATRE

 

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