Hurricane Sandy put an end to this year’s Halloween festivities, at least temporarily.
But that didn’t stop Rodney Frelinghuysen from wearing his favorite disguise — one that he has worn since the start of this election season — a Moderate Republican. Don’t let the well-worn mask fool you. Rodney Frelinghuysen is as extreme as any Tea Party loyalist.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s review the congressman’s record. Rodney Frelinghuysen
- is one of seven New Jersey House Republicans who signed the "Grover Norquist Pledge," agreeing to whatever Norquist wants as long as Norquist doesn’t use his power and money to oust them from office. Norquist, as most of you know, is a powerful, ultra-conservative, well-funded lobbyist who opposes taxes of any kind and believes Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security should be abolished.
- voted in 2011 and 2012 to endorse the reckless Paul Ryan budget, a plan that would accomplish much of what Norquist has demanded of all Republican congressmen. We all know the Ryan budget turns Medicare into a voucher system, guts Social Security, and adds $5 trillion dollars to our already staggering national debt. But what some of us don’t know is the Ryan budget dumps Medicaid, a program that mainly serves poor children and seniors in nursing homes, into state block grants that will reduce enrollment by 50%.
Mr. Frelinghuysen wore his "moderate" disguise especially well during our recent television and radio debates. When asked about his voting record on women’s rights, Frelinghuysen insisted he believes in equal pay for women and in a woman’s right to choose. He apparently takes off his moderate disguise as soon as he hits the Washington Beltway. Congressman Frelinghuysen, in step with his ultra conservative colleagues,
- voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2007 and voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010 and again in 2012. He also supported bills in 2012 that (1) fail to protect all women from acts of violence, like rape; (2) prevent women from obtaining contraceptives from their insurance companies; (3) give doctors the authority to decide which life to save in the event of birth complications; (4) require doctors to establish whether a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy is based on the sex of the fetus, thereby requiring unwanted, invasive tests; (5) giving a fetus all the rights of an individual, essentially opening the possibility for women who terminate a pregnancy to be prosecuted for murder.
During those same debates, Mr. Frelinghuysen, wanting to win over the moderate vote, applauded many provisions included in the Affordable Care Act. He stated specifically, for example, he agreed with the provision that allows employees to take their insurance with them (portability), with the provision that allows children under age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans, with the provision that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, with the provision that requires insurance companies to cover mammograms and other cancer screenings without charge.
Notwithstanding support for those many provisions, Mr. Frelinghuysen
- voted against the Affordable Care Act and voted to repeal that law something like thirty-three times.
I want to give these last votes some special attention. During our recent debates, the congressman pointed out the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), passed the House without a single Republican vote. His implication, of course, is that the bill was a completely partisan plan forced down their throats.
Frelinghuysen seems to forget, along with the rest of his party, that Obamacare is almost identical to a healty-care plan proposed by Republicans in 1993-94 when they were combating what was then called "Hillycare." That Republican proposal, like Obamacare, was a market-based plan that allowed Americans to keep their employer-based coverage or purchase private coverage through buying exchanges designed to provide the same affordability as group plans. Compliance was maintained through a mandate.
These were once Republican ideas. Most recently, we saw this Republican plan implemented in 2006 in Massachusetts under Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney claimed his health care plan was the crowning achievement of his term and it would serve as a model for the country.
I have said consistently throughout this campaign Obamacare is a good starting point, but, "yes," we need to make improvements. That’s a true bi-partisan approach — not the self serving, say anything approach offered by my Republican opponent.
Like health care and women’s issues, my position on taxes is clear. The federal government does not have to raise taxes to provide affordable education or college grants or lower interest on students loans. It does not have to increase taxes to create more jobs, to provide quality healthcare, or to ensure better benefits for veterans.
To pay for these necessities, I would insist that the federal government make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, close tax loopholes, and end incentives to corporations that send jobs overseas.
Instead of bailouts for financial institutions (Mr. Frelinghuysen voted for TARP), big oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies and defense contractors, the federal government must redirect that money to families struggling to save their homes from foreclosures.
Unlike Mr. Frelinghuysen, I support House measures to stimulate our economy, create more jobs in New Jersey, reduce unemployment, and provide more relief to out hard-hit lower and middle-income families.
Instead of offering relief to people and families in the 11th District, Mr. Frelinghuysen sponsored only a dozen bills in the current House session. None of them have made it into law. Three of them were to suspend import duties on preserved artichokes and oysters, eight others were to suspend import duties on various chemicals from China used by pharmaceutical companies and the defense industry.
Rodney Frelinghuysen is no moderate. I am.