Special Election 2011 Candidates Update
Living in New York gets more expensive every day. No matter how carefully some planned, their retirement savings and investments have disappeared. On top of that, they are scared that the benefits they have paid into for years— Social Security and Medicare – may be taken away. Unfortunately, they are right to be nervous.
The extreme right flank in Washington—the Tea Party—held our nation hostage to their demands to protect tax breaks for millionaires and tax loopholes that encourage big corporations to ship jobs overseas. That level of brinksmanship demonstrates more than differing views for the future of our country, which are many and vast. It shows a complete disregard for the health, safety, and economic security of the seniors and middle class families they are elected to represent.
The deficit is driving the agenda in Washington. The roller coaster ride of the financial markets we witness every day shows we need strong and experienced leadership in Congress. How our nation tackles its deficit challenges will define our future. We almost all agree on one thing—we must reduce the federal deficit. The difference lies in how we plan to do so.
There are some individuals, including my opponent, who favor a plan that would balance our nation’s budget on the backs of senior citizens and working families. Instead of closing loopholes or asking the ultra-wealthy to pay slightly more in taxes, they suggest gutting the federal budget to the point that it is impossible to sustain Medicare and Social Security.
This approach is puzzling to me. In the $3.7 trillion federal budget, we lose over $1 trillion every year because of tax loopholes, nearly enough to close the deficit altogether. And the wealthiest among us often pay less in taxes as a percentage of income than the average worker.
I favor a more balanced approach that will protect critical programs like Medicare and Social Security, reduce our deficit, and provide enough money to make the investments that are necessary to ensure our nation’s future prosperity—namely education, transportation and energy infrastructure. Any budget plan I support must makes smart cuts, reform the tax code to make it fairer and simpler, make targeted investments, and protect vital social programs. So, what does this plan look like?
Cutting spending: Federal spending is out of balance. Money funding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be spent to build schools and bridges here at home, and our government needs to operate much more efficiently. While progress has been made in recent years, much work remains.
Protecting vital programs: Before President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, 30 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Before we passed Medicare, senior citizens and people with disabilities were on their own when it came to finding health care. We cannot return to those times. Absolutely any changes to our federal budget must protect these vital programs. Workers pay into Medicare and Social Security throughout their entire careers. They earn these benefits, and we must respect that commitment.
Reforming taxes: On personal taxes, I believe that the millionaires and billionaires who have benefitted from our economy in a time when many have not can afford to chip in a little more to ensure seniors and the disabled can get the health care they need. When it comes to businesses, we need to make taxes fairer by closing the loopholes that encourage big corporations to ship jobs overseas so we can lower rates for the small businesses we know will create jobs here in New York.
Targeted investments: By investing in our energy and transportation infrastructures, we can create jobs now while improving efficiency and reduce costs in the near future. Additionally, we must continue to improve our education system so that our kids are prepared to take on the challenges of living and working in the changing global economy.
We need to put our nation’s finances back on the right course. But along the way, we need to make sure that we don’t renege on our obligations—to our seniors, to the middle class, and to our children. America honors its promises, and I will honor my promises to you.
An Earthshaking Development
An examination of Republican Bob Turner’s (NY-09) personal financial disclosure reveals that his pledge to protect tax breaks for Big Oil companies making record profits is an effort to protect his own bottom line. What Turner doesn’t mention is that he is personally sharing in those record profits. In 2010 alone, Bob Turner’s investments in oil and gas companies increased in value by more than $80,000. With the nation running huge deficits and drivers paying too much for gas, Bob Turner’s plan is to cut spending on programs like Medicare and Social Security so he can protect tax breaks to prop up his own oil profits.
“This earthshaking development puts Bob Turner’s misguided priorities on full display. Despite all of his pandering, Republican Bob Turner’s real agenda is to force seniors to pay more for their health care so the big oil companies in which he has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars can continue to receive taxpayer handouts,” said Josh Schwerin, Northeast Press Secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Bob Turner’s plan provides a stark contrast for voters: should their Representative be more concerned about protecting Medicare and Social Security or his own financial investments?”
Turner made more than $80,000 off Big Oil stocks since 2010. According to his 2011 personal financial disclosure report, Turner owned $724,166 of stock in oil and gas-related firms, as of July 28, 2011 – an $80,275 increase from his previous holdings of $643,891 as noted on his 2010 report.