Frelinghuysen: The X factor

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11), chairman of the powerful House Appropriations committee, is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, under pressure from the extreme right wing of his party for opposing the first version of Trump/Ryancare, and under pressure from his non-extreme-right-wing constituents for everything else he has done in the past several years, as well as refusing to meet with them face to face in Town Hall-style meetings.

rodney2.pngNow the 12-term congressman, who needs to decide if the well-being of New Jerseyans or the continuation of his professional political career takes priority, is refusing to take a public stand on the second version of the bill that the GOP hopes will eradicate the Affordable Health Care Act.

Frelinghuysen has refused to stay where he stands on the issue, despite repeated requests from press organizations.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Frelinghuysen’s intended “no” vote on the last bill was seen by many as the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused House Speaker Paul Ryan to withdraw the measure.

Now, however, a newer version arguably stands a better chance of passage, and Frelinghuysen’s stand could be crucial.

A new amendment to the bill, proffered by another Garden State Republican, Tom MacArthur (R-3), allows states to take away Obamacare protections for those with previous conditions, many of whom could not afford care, or receive it at all, prior to the ACA; insurance companies would be free to charge those people much more.

In what we now recognize as routine GOP doublespeak, the amendment is touted as

“saving” protections by still allowing the sick, formerly sick and disabled “access” to insurance while “lowering costs for everyone else.” Since insurance works by having everyone in a pool cover costs for everyone who uses it, the inequities are obvious, but largely being ignored by a Congressional leadership hell bent on destroying the ACA.

The amendment also exempts members of Congress and their staffs from its provisions; they retain full Obamacare benefits.

Frelinghuysen’s refusal to publicly state his stance on this “health care” bill can only leave his constituency—which includes Byram, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta and Stanhope in Sussex County—wondering whether regaining the approval of the GOP’s reactionary Freedom Caucus supersedes his obligations to the people of New Jersey, even those who have had previous health issues.