Rodney Report: Welcome to the Spin Cycle

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Nothing like starting off the New Year with a large grain of salt, which is likely the best way to take Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s first 2018 newsletter.

First, he assures us he’s just as upset as we are that Donald Trump’s administration canned the Gateway Project so vital to our region’s commuter infrastructure. (He has even written a letter to the administration about it.) He then plunges into a laundry list of 2017 “achievements” by the GOP-led House of Representatives, which is pretty much a master class in spin cycling. Oh, and it carefully skirts mentioning the fallout from the GOP’s new, Trump-lauded tax code whose impact continues to look terrible for average taxpayers.

Looks like we’re in for a dizzyingly spinworthy year of newsletters, to judge by this edition. Here’s a quick sampling to give you an idea of what lies behind the pleasant phrases.

Funding the War Machine

Frelinghuysen lists among his biggest accomplishments the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act and the House's approval of his twelve appropriations bills, alleging that this legislation is necessary to ensure our national security.  Indeed, these bills increase defense spending by a whopping $70 billion.  It’s strange that amid all this concern for national security, Frelinghuysen remains quiet about Trump’s breathtakingly reckless twittering about nuclear buttons. He also fails to mention that the increase in defense spending comes at a steep cost to critical domestic programs, including cuts to the EPA, Pell Grants, the National Endowment for the Arts, and infrastructure programs.  The Trump-Frelinghuysen budget means more money for tanks and bombs and less money for clean water and education.

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Betrayed: Frelinghuysen votes "yes" on Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Yet another betrayal: The vast majority of Rodney Frelinghuysen’s constituents strongly backs New Jersey’s strict controls on gun ownership. But Frelinghuysen once again put his party bosses first, voting yes on a measure that’s top-priority for the National Rifle Association.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act dramatically lowers the bar for carrying concealed guns everywhere in the United States. In bowing to the NRA’s and his Party leaders’ agenda, Frelinghuysen runs roughshod over our own state’s robust gun-safety laws, putting his constituents in peril. The act requires all states to recognize concealed-carry permits valid in any other state. Even from one of the 12  states such as Alaska and Mississippi that require NO permits, NO training whatsoever, and even from states that allow convicted violent stalkers from carrying weapons.

This act compels us to roll out the welcome mat for whoever conceal-carries-- teenagers, people with no safety training, who may never have even fired their weapon, and people with dangerous violent histories from other states to carry hidden loaded guns around our kids, in our restaurants, our sporting events, and our churches.

This legislation ignores both constituents concerns and statistical analysis on effective ways to diminish the plague of gun violence in our country.

The NRA has successfully stifled government research on gun violence prevention, and Frelinghuysen has been consistently complicit in supporting that gag-order in each Appropriation bill for the past 20 years, hoping and praying that the data, analysis and facts will not interfere with gun policy at the federal level.  Despite the difficulties, more long term studies into community gun safety have been completed recently, and their conclusions give the lie to the NRA’s fantasy-based refrain about “a good-guy with a gun.”

  • Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas -- none of which requires a license, registration or permit to buy a gun --  rank within the top 10 for firearm mortalities.
  • Violent crime increased year over year in states with Right to Carry Laws rising 14% after 10 years of the new legislation.
  • States with the strongest laws had 6.64 fewer deaths per 100,000 residents than the states with the weakest.
  • A meta-analysis of 16 studies examined the relationship between firearms and gun deaths. Gun ownership doubled the risk of homicide and tripled the risk of suicide.

 

The GOP’s actions are a direct assault on the safety of our community, and Frelinghuysen’s support is a complete betrayal of our communities. We at NJ 11th For Change demand leadership that puts our communities' well-being ahead of lobbyists and party. We need our Representatives to be strong and stand up for us.

 NJ 11th for Change


Frelinghuysen: A Failure of Leadership for NJ Taxpayers

Frelinghuysen: A Failure of Leadership for New Jersey Taxpayers

A bill that will increase taxes for many – though not the wealthiest District 11 taxpayers –  could pass in a matter of days. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen could have lobbied to change the House tax bill’s most harmful provisions. Instead, he was the only N.J. Congressman to remain silent. He voted ‘no’ only after Republican leaders determined they didn’t need his vote.

  • The best chance to stop this tax bill was when the House voted on a budget resolution in October. The bill included many of the worst parts of the final version, and yet Rodney was the only N.J. representative to vote for it. This bill passed by an extremely thin margin; if only two more representatives had voted NO, the resolution would have failed.
  • He was silent on the provisions that in his words “could do much damage to the business climate in our state, a trend we must never tolerate, let alone encourage. … I simply could not support the legislation due to very negative impacts it would have on so many of my fellow New Jerseyans.” If that’s how he really felt, why was he the only member of the NJ delegation to allow this bill to pass through budget resolution, where he had the power to stop it?  And why did we have to wait until after the bill passed to state the obvious?
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Rodney Report: It’s trickle-down economics time, folks.

UPDATE 11/13/2017: According to The Hill, House Republicans say they have the votes they need to pass their tax package; a Rodney_artfloor vote is expected in the House this week. Now is the time to tell Rodney Frelinghuysen what you think.

  • D.C. office: (202) 225-5034
  • Morristown office: (973) 984-0711
  • Morristown fax: (973) 292-1569
  • R.Frelinghuysen@mail.house.gov

 

This week, the Republicans unveiled the House and Senate versions of competing tax bills. They share the same vision of what’s good for America: a fat, juicy tax cut for corporations and the biggest investors,  while waving away a loss of revenue so big it will rip a gaping hole in the budget and inevitably lead to cuts in programs, services, and institutions that benefit the rest of us.  Rewards in the tax code for “good behavior” -- like going to college or getting a graduate degree, buying a house, taking care of your health, or giving your money away, are all eliminated as if these no longer interest the majority party.

 In fact, a look at the tax cuts proposed across the next decade shows that they aren’t cuts at all for many Americans. By Year Ten, the evaluation of the House bill by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank, shows the bill for what it is: a $900 billion corporate cut, a $400 billion break for non-corporate business owners, a $127 billion estate tax break. What little is left over falls squarely in the pockets of the richest 1%.

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2017 Get Out the Vote-NOW!

THERE’S NO 2018 WITHOUT 2017!  

Get-Out-The-Vote

If you’re feeling fed-up with the state of things, think LOCAL!  All across the district there are great local candidates looking to CHANGE the status quo.  And they are all working up the ticket as well, including a tight local district 25 race.  A sad fact is that turnout for midterms and off-year elections is very low.  Want to change that?  Want to get out and support some great candidates including some fellow NJ 11th For Change members?  Here’s your chance.

From today through election day VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED.  As a service for anyone looking to do some last-minute GOTV efforts, we’re allowing any candidate’s organization to post their contact info in this post.  These are not NJ11th For Change sponsored events.

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The Rodney Report: Budget from Hell

  • Supremacy Over Partnership: What Reconciliation Rules Mean
  • The Cold Hard Vagaries
  • Tax cuts for the rich, tax increases for 35% of NJ taxpayers: Effects of the proposed tax cuts on NJcranky-rodney.jpg
  • A Moment for Dickey

 

Readers of this week’s e-newsletter from the office of Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen may well have wished for a piece of paper to flip over in search of the real news.  Absent from the litany of achievements was any mention of the massacre in Las Vegas that gripped so many of his constituents, let alone any fruitful conversation on how the federal government might work to reduce the frequency and death toll of such horror. He was able to discuss some policies protecting children on the internet but didn’t mention that he’d allowed ChIP, the federal health insurance program for children, to lapse, or say when he might get around to covering the 9 million current recipients.

Most telling, the newsletter also failed to mention that Rep. Frelinghuysen was one of only two New Jersey lawmakers to vote “yes” with a slim partisan majority on a budget resolution, a bill not only devastating in itself, but designed explicitly to soften the passage of a GOP tax plan that promises to cost more than a quarter of household in New Jersey an average of over $2,400. One wonders how he could stay silent on such a move.  

Supremacy Over Partnership: What Reconciliation Rules Mean

Last week Congressional Republicans displayed an ironclad determination to pass the tax reform they want without a smidge of Democratic help (or even opinions). The cornerstone of this effort is a parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation.

What does that mean, exactly?

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The Rodney Report: Dreams And Dignity

  • Ending The Dream
  • An Ounce Of Prevention …
  • Labor Day And Labor Issues

 

Ending The Dream

On Tuesday, it appears that President Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Despite Trump’scranky_rodney_image.jpg pledge to treat DACA recipients with “great heart,” this move will place the future of 800,000 recipients in jeopardy, including 22,000 in New Jersey. Commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” DACA recipients were brought to the U.S. as young children and have proven themselves to be productive members of our community.  

The program provided protection from deportation for immigrant youth brought to the U.S. as young children. Many DACA recipients have graduated at the top of their class to become doctors, lawyers, and teachers.  Given the essential role Dreamers play in our economy, the Center for American Progress estimates that ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade, with a $1.6 billion loss annually in New Jersey alone.  

 

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The Rodney Report: A 500 Year Flood

A 500-Year Flood. Now What?

  • Infrastructure
  • Funding Harvey Recoverycranky-rodney.jpg
  • What’s In That Bill (And Our Drinking Water)?
  • Unpardonable Pardon

 

Infrastructure

One week before Harvey hit the Texas coast, pouring 40 inches of rain like a waterfall down on Houston and surrounding communities, President Trump signed an executive order  rescinding requirements for flood protections for federally funded buildings and infrastructure. This order reverses an Obama executive order requiring that new public infrastructure projects—like subsidized housing, hospitals, and fire departments—be built a few feet above the “100-year floodplain,” or the height at which there is a 1 percent chance of experiencing an enormous flooding event.

The requirement accounts for future sea-level rise predicted by “the best-available and actionable science.” Obama’s order was the first time the federal government took sea-level rise projections into account, instead of relying only on historical data.  As with many of his executive orders, Trump ignores the problems addressed and progress made by his predecessor in what seems to be an obsessive dismantling of Obama’s acts.

Flooding is already the nation’s most common and costly disaster. Officials have estimated that the United States suffered $260 billion in flood-related damages between 1980 and 2013.

Even many conservatives are dismayed by Trump’s action. Flood-policy expert Eli Lehrer, president of the libertarian R Street Institute, said revoking the flood-protection requirement will be costly to taxpayers. "The Trump administration is acting very rashly in part out of the desire to undo a climate measure under the Obama administration. This is an enormous mistake that is disastrous for taxpayers. The [Obama] rule would have saved billions of dollars over time.” There is evidence showing that for every $1 spent on disaster mitigation, $4 is saved in post-disaster recovery and rebuilding costs.

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Treasurer's Report for the first half of 2017

Hello from your friendly neighborhood Treasurer of NJ 11th for Change.  We recently filed our first financial report with the Federal Election Commission.  Because we are registered as a Federal Super PAC, we must submit our full financial details to the FEC on a regular basis.  We file twice a year during off years like 2017, and quarterly during Federal election years like 2018.  Everything we file is then shared publicly on the FEC Web site.  The NJ 11th for Change page at the FEC is quite informative, but there are quite a few interesting details which I would like to share with you.

First, though, I would like to ask you to consider making another donation, or your first donation, to help us keep up our momentum through the November elections and beyond. Please take a moment to donate now.  Then read on for the Treasurer's Report.

Part one - Receipts

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Our receipts included $87,785.22 in donations, plus $1,619.56 worth of in-kind contributions (where someone paid for something and donated it to the organization).

1 - All of our donations were from individuals.  We received no corporate or other organizational donations during this period.

2 - We are a local organization.  The vast majority of donations came from District 11.

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3 - We represent the whole district.  Our donors came from every county of the district, with Morris leading the charge.

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4 - We are powered by small donations.  The majority of donations were under $50, and only 2% were over $500.

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 Part 2 - Disbursements and Debts

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The FEC site reports the $53,942.28 that we paid to companies and organizations for goods and services.  It does not reflect an additional $4,620.25 that we paid in reimbursements to volunteers who purchased items or services on behalf of NJ 11th for Change and were paid back.  In addition, at the time of reporting we had $1,846.59 in debt, made up entirely of reimbursements due for purchases made before June 30 but which had not been paid back yet.

Start-up costs made up about 35% of our expenditures this cycle. We retained Genova Burns LLC, a NJ law firm with political expertise, to help us make sure our activities conform with FEC regulations. We also purchased the necessary insurance policies to allow us to book venues, which frequently require proof of insurance in advance.

Administrative costs made up another 15% of expenditures. A few percentage points of every donation go to financial processing fees. We also pay for several cloud software packages that power our Web site, member database, email system, project management, etc.

Program costs made up the other half of our expenditures. We hosted or co-hosted many events, including membership meetings, town halls, and the ongoing Fridays with Frelinghuysen and Wayne Wednesdays. Costs of these events included venue fees, audio-visual equipment rentals, and a large amount of printed matter including posters, brochures, flyers, and postcards. We also spent money on merchandise such as buttons, car magents, and hats, which we give out to volunteers and attendees to help carry the message further around the district.

Importantly, we spent less than $250 on advertising in the first half of the year. Virtually everything we have accomplished has been thanks to earned media -- social sharing and press coverage. This is the best possible proof of the profound impact that individual political action can have. You should all feel proud of your involvement in the first six months of NJ 11th for Change, and optimistic of what we can accomplish together between now and the election.

Part 3 - Where you come in

The defeat of TrumpCare proves the effectiveness of vocal resistance from informed, engaged citizens like you. And more recent news from the administration clearly show that we cannot afford to rest - there is much work to be done.  NJ 11th for Change is a 100% volunteer organization, but we need the financial support of our members to optimize our success.  Please consider making a donation now to help us keep up the momentum for the rest of 2017.  Please take a moment to donate now.  Thank you!

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PS – You can do even more to help! Invite your friends and neighbors to join. Forward the link to this post to 11 of your contacts and ask them to join our email list.  There are two ways to join: go to www.nj11thforchange.org/join and fill in the form, or just text the word “Yes” to 973-440-2643 and follow the prompts.  We think everyone in the district should know what their Representative is doing in Congress. NJ 11th for Change is comprised of Independents, Democrats and Republicans who deeply care about the future of our country.  All are welcome.  Let’s spread the word!


The Rodney Report: On Doing the Right Thing

On Doing The Right Thing

  • Combat Domestic Hate Groups
  • Censure and More Firingscranky-rodney.jpg

  • Endorse Anti-hate Policies and End Racist Policies and Programs

 

A week after American Nazis marched on the city of Charlottesville, Rodney Frelinghuysen’s newsletter contained a statement that was nearly all that could be wished: pointed, clear and uncompromising in its refusal to concede legitimacy of any sort to Donald Trump’s both-sides-now equivocating. In its articulateness and power to move, the Friday newsletter statement was a world away from Frelinghuysen’s initial response on Monday — an inert, two-sentence post to his website.

“To be clear, the President’s assertion that there were two legitimate “sides” in Charlottesville last weekend is flatly wrong,’’ he declared Friday. “There can be no comparison – no equivalency - between white supremacists, KKK members and other racist fringe groups and those who showed up to challenge their bigotry, racism and anti-semitism.”

Perhaps opinions on Friday’s words will include terms such as gutsy, or forceful. There is an even more fundamental description: The right thing.

We only wish he would have done the right thing sooner. Frelinghuysen waited two days after the violence in Charlottesville before releasing his first, tepid statement against white supremacy late Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, he added a single sentence (punctuated by an exclamation point) to announce that Charlottesville protesters weren’t to blame before elaborating further in his newsletter.

In the meantime, the president’s economic council collapsed after several CEO’s left in protest, the 16 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned together, and several GOP lawmakers from Leonard Lance to Marco Rubio mentioned the President specifically in repudiating his comments.  But perhaps more influential to Frelinghuysen were his constituents,  who called his offices constantly, visited daily, tweeted by the hundreds and had multiple letters published in the opinion sections of local press, all calling for stronger action. There were also hundreds of vigils and rallies across the country. We wonder if Friday’s statement is responsive — at long last— to the opinions and beliefs of his constituents.

As 2017 marches into autumn, we will need, at every turn, elected officials to remain just as strong and clear in answer to anything that challenges what is fundamentally decent about our democracy. And we will need, as we do now, actions on the heels of such statements.

“Actions speak louder than words but not nearly as often.” - Mark Twain

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