The Rodney Report: In the Absence of our Representative

  • Frelinghuysen Cheers Sneaky Move to Undermine Obamacare
  • Research and Renewable Energy slashed and burned, Clean Water Rule vaporized
  • We won’t have to vote for a ficus in 2018…


Representative Frelinghuysen had to skip marching in any of the dozen Independence Day parades around the district last week as he was visiting the British Territory of Gibraltar for a “fact finding" tour. But what, if any, facts were found, or whether he missed his patriotic constituents in our Red White and Blue (and Purple), we do not know. He sent us no e-newsletter this week.  Will he be similarly silent as the evidence of cooperation between Russia and the President's family and campaign begins to glare? What would provoke definitive response from our congressman?  A return of a healthcare bill to the House? The elimination of renewable energy programs? Of Net Neutrality? Of Women's rights? We can ask.  And if answers are not forthcoming, we can ask the now four declared candidates who seek to oppose him.

The Rodney Report nevertheless persists, looking under the hood of a couple of bills coming out of the Appropriation subcommittees and introducing you to the courageous woman and men who seek to challenge our absent Representative.


Frelinghuysen Cheers Sneaky Move to Undermine Obamacare

Unable to rally public support for the Senate’s Trumpcare bill,  which would result in millions of  uninsured Americans, the GOP devised a backdoor plan that would help dismantle Obamacare.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government approved a bill that would halt the IRS from enforcing Obamacare’s “individual mandate,’’ which requires those without insurance to pay a tax penalty to the IRS. Although the tax is dependent on income and other factors, the cost averaged about $470 for those who failed to obtain minimum essential coverage.

The IRS bill would bar the IRS from collecting the penalty fee -- even though eliminating it would result in premium hikes for patients with more severe health problems and the elderly, according to last month’s CBO analysis.

Frelinghuysen has cheered the move with the same blanket condemnations of Obamacare – and many other measures designed to protect the public — he  has been issuing for years, with scant evidence.  It will end “burdensome regulations before they can damage our economy irreparably,’’ he declared.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services, now headed by Trump appointee Tom Price, concluded in a report last week that Obamacare is “working as intended.’’ It’s moderating premiums for consumers and protecting insurers against large risks. Data from the report also suggests that Obamacare is resulting in healthier enrollees and stable risk pools, according to a Los Angeles Times story which quoted health economist Timothy Jost.


Research and Renewable Energy slashed and burned, Clean Water Rule vaporized

While most agencies in the Department of Energy will remain at or near current spending levels as provided by the bill passed by the Energy and Water subcommittee, two agencies focusing on renewable energy bare the brunt of the cuts.  

  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is completely eliminated.  Created in 2007 under G. W. Bush, ARPA-E funds and supports transformational technologically advanced projects like microbial fuel creation.
  • Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will lose nearly a billion dollars or half its current budget from $2.1 billion to $1.1 billion.  EERE houses popular programs that keep fuel bills down like weatherization, a federal program that helps make houses more efficient, and Solar integration programs that cut consumer costs by over 60%.  It also houses the efficiency standards program which has been one of the most successful federal carbon and energy reduction policies and will save consumers over $2.4 Trillion before 2035.
  • It eliminates a successful federal Title XVII clean energy projects loan program, which accelerates the implementation of clean energy technology, under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Revenues from this program were about $1.8 billion in December with projections to increase to $5 billion by the end of the current loans.


The move ignores not only concerns for the air and the planet, but is bad for the economy.  In the US clean energy jobs already outnumber those in fossil fuel by 2.5 to 1 according to a Sierra Club study with the trend only increasing.  China in contrast is investing $360 billion in renewable energy and expects to create 13 million jobs by 2020.  

The bill also authorizes withdrawal from the Clean Waters Rule “without regard to any provision of statute or regulation that establishes a requirement for such withdrawal.” The 2015 rule is an effort to bring federal Clean Water Act protections, particularly over streams and wetlands and other waterways that have not been adequately regulated up until now. But the appropriations bill does more than repeal, it seeks to create a precedent to bypass the Administrative Procedures Act which requires that new administrations go through a process of discussion and public engagement before changing all or part of a rule. This bill however provides the Trump administration an escape hatch to eliminate the rule without public scrutiny.

In a statement Clean Water Action CEO and president Bob Wendelgass says of the original process, “"More than a million Americans commented on the Clean Water Rule, with nearly 80% supporting strong protections. EPA held over 400 stakeholder meetings, and used the best science to develop the rule.” But adds,  “Scott Pruitt wants an end-run around the public because he knows he’s wrong. He knows that we expect our public officials to protect public health and clean water - not make it easier for polluters to harm our water."

We won’t have to vote for a ficus in 2018…

Since our inception, NJ 11th for Change has worked towards a goal of clearing the field for a strong opponent to our twelve-term Representative.  We worked to shine a light on Frelinghuysen’s inaccessibility, his far right slide. We garnered press attention on our momentum and his record. We hoped that great candidates would see our district as a viable opportunity and that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) would likewise see our district as engaged and ready and ripe.  We now have four courageous candidates, three Democrats and one Republican, and we have some attention from the DCCC.

This week, at a Rockaway Borough meeting, we learned the results of a poll conducted by the DCCC late spring.  The takeaway? Rodney is vulnerable. The poll was not published but results were shared with a candidate and via Twitter. Here are the results: 

Frelinghuysen is LESS popular than Trump in our district.  

AND he loses to a generic Democratic opponent.

We will guarantee the opponent won’t be generic! Here’s a brief introduction to the announced candidates:

John Bartlett, is running as a Democrat. Bartlett, the Passaic County Freeholder, just announced his campaign for Congress this week. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and received his bachelor’s degree with honors from Brown University. He was also a Raoul Wallenberg Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been Freeholder for five years, and is also a practicing attorney. Bartlett lives in Wayne, in the 11th district. He has attended a number of NJ11th for Change events. He has announced a series of campaign events, #30coffees30days. For more information see his website:

Jack Gebbia is running as a Democrat. He is veteran, serving with the National Guard. Jack holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a Master’s Degree in International Policy and Development from Middlebury College. While pursuing his education, Jack worked in Washington D.C. as a policy writer and advocate for Mercy Corps. Gebbia grew up and still lives in Boonton, in the 11th district. He announced his run for Congress at a Fridays Without Frelinghuysen event. Campaign events and more info can be found at:

Martin Hewitt is running as a Republican. Hewitt studied Philosophy at the University of Rochester and has a degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. He is now an attorney in East Brunswick. Hewitt left the Democratic Party in November, and explored running for Congress as an Independent before deciding to run against Frelinghuysen in the Republican primary. He lives in the 12th, but intends to move to the 11th district. Campaign events and more info:

Mikie Sherrill is running as a Democrat. She is an Iraq war veteran, former Navy helicopter pilot. As a Federal prosecutor she worked for the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey. She is a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, holds a Master’s degree in Global History from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Law Degree from Georgetown University. She has received the endorsement of VoteVets and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Sherrill lives in Montclair, though her home is just over the border in the 10th. This week she announced that she will move to the 11th district. She has been attending local events and holding campaign meet and greets all over the district. She has attended NJ 11th for Change events, including Fridays Without Frelinghuysen. Upcoming events include one in Madison on July 12th.

We hope to have a robust conversation in the primary and an important win in 2018. The competition of an engaged, conscious primary will ultimately get us the better, honed and tuned candidate. As long as we keep sight of the ultimate goal: bringing transparent, accessible and responsive representation to this district, we will keep the bar and the tenor high, not slipping into disrespectful and anxious arguing.  We are here because we want representation that aligns with the values of this district. NJ 11th for Change will not make an endorsement in the primary. Please go out and meet the candidates, and then bring respectful discussion of their positions, strengths and weaknesses to our Facebook page, our gatherings and town teams.
And of course, without exception, the ballot box.


By Jane J. Hunsecker, Mara Novak, Karen Rose and Elizabeth Juviler