Metuchen, Pallone, and the Reorg Within the Reorg


New Year’s Day means different things to different people. It’s a time to make resolutions, nurse a hangover or watch football.

But for politicians in New Jersey, the first day of the year is a time to head to as many municipal reorganization meetings as you can. Yep, it’s all part of the drill.

So this New Year’s Day found Rep. Frank Pallone, the most senior Democrat from New Jersey in the House, dropping into Metuchen Borough Hall to deliver the oath of office to Mayor Jonathan Busch. Pallone performed the role well, but you had to figure his mind was elsewhere – like on Thursday’s Congressional reorganization when Democrats take control of the House.

I also happened to be in Metuchen – a place they call the “brainy borough” – that day, so I asked Pallone about Thursday’s events. Quickly, he spoke of three priorities for the now-Democratic House. They are protect the ACA, make progress combatting climate change and restore net neutrality.

Let’s take them one by one.

Pallone and the Dems appear to be on solid ground in standing up for the Affordable Care Act. After its rough start and repeated attacks by Republicans, the ACA is now popular with the public, according to most polls, especially the provision that bars insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions. Republicans who ran on repealing the ACA – think Jay Webber – didn’t fare too well. Of course, there probably isn’t much the Dems can do to fix what needs fixing given the Republicans’ stubbornness here, but they can at least stop the administration from further attempts to chip away at the law. Keep in mind that a recent ruling by a federal judge declaring the ACA unconstitutional will be tied up for a year or so during the appeal process.

As for climate change, here is where things get interesting.

Pallone, who will lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee as of Thursday, has strong environmental credentials. But maybe not strong enough. So far, he has been reticent to embrace the more active and left-wing environmental goals being advocated by those looking for a new “green deal.” It’s not as if Pallone quibbles with the goals; he seems to be worried about making it work politically. Clearly, this is going to be fun to watch.

Now we come to net neutrality. That does seem like an odd goal. After all, who ever got into a fistfight arguing in a bar about net neutrality?

Pallone, of course, is kind of a wonk, so this third goal of his probably is not all that surprising. In simple terms, net neutrality treats Internet service providers like any other utility and prohibits them from discriminating against content providers. The Trump administration has done away with this rule, but even some Republicans have second thoughts about it.

Of course, regardless of Pallone’s goals, obstacles remain.

Will House Democrats do what politicians in control are wont to do? Fight among themselves.

And then there is the GOP Senate and the president to deal with.

Pallone, not surprisingly, says he thinks Democrats will be wise enough to realize they do have to work with Republicans.

Dealing with Senate Republicans is one thing; dealing with the president is quite another.

And the fun begins Thursday at noon.

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  • Herb Tarbous

    Pallone is on the wrong side of three of the most important issues of our time while pretending to be on the right side.

    1. Net Neutrality- the fundamental issue here is free speech and democracy. Frank Pallone is a politically corrupt, anti-Progressive machine politician who actively undermines Progressives fighting for fundamental change in our political system. He demonstrated this by coming to Piscataway with Cory Booker last June to campaign against Progressive Democrats running for township council.

    2. Healthcare – strengthening the ACA is Pallone promoting Pallone’s bill. It does nothing to move us toward single-payer healthcare. What it does is enrich health insurers who then use their cash to buy politicians who will continue to obfuscate on single-payer which is something in which Pallone has shown expertise.

    3. Climate Protection – Pallone has argued against the select committee on the environment promoted by Ocasio-Cortez, has not signed on to the Green New Deal, and continues to rake in millions of dollars in corporate cash. He is more concerned with protecting the ‘old guard’ of the economy and of the political elite than he is in moving forward on a bold Progressive agenda.

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