Rep. Lee Zeldin’s interest in local priorities is seemingly well-intentioned, but is informed by certain presumptions that are demonstrably inaccurate or outright false.
On security, he conflates our regional drug problem with homeland security. Of course we do need to do something about our burgeoning opioid problem, which seems to have become a more urgent concern since it is now afflicting the white middle-class, and not just black and brown communities.
Regarding middle class growth and the business climate in CD-1, there is no question that the cost of living on Long Island is one of the highest in the nation, and I agree we must do something to make Long Island more affordable for young people and seniors alike. Of course Zeldin’s solution to everything is to cut taxes and eliminate “job-killing red tape.”
Let’s first recognize that the huge tax burden imposed on Long Island residents is not at the federal or even state level. It is local school taxes, police and special taxing districts that eat away at our disposable income. These are not areas where Zeldin has much, if any influence. Second, let’s ask Zeldin where he stands on affordable housing for seniors and lower income residents, because providing affordable housing would go a long way towards alleviating the cost of living here in our district. Tax cuts and deregulation won’t do anything to address those pressing issues.
I am a business owner. I employ 20 people, mostly millennials, and I can state categorically, it’s not taxes or regulations that present challenges to my business, and there is little evidence to support that tired conservative claim.
Zeldin fails to acknowledge that what actually killed millions of jobs was the weak regulatory environment of the Bush administration (with 6 years of Republican controlled legislature) that caused the financial meltdown and the Great Recession.
Businesses don’t hire based upon tax breaks, they hire based upon demand. When irresponsible government causes a recession leading to the loss of millions of jobs, demand dries up. If Zeldin wants businesses to “grow and stay local,” he should support infrastructure spending, affordable housing initiatives and legislation that favors small business over giant multinational corporations.
One burden on business owners that does affect hiring considerations is the cost of employer-sponsored health care. It costs my business thousands of dollars each year to provide health insurance for my staff. If Zeldin really wants to help business, he would support a single-payer system via expansion of Medicare to cover all citizens. I would happily pay higher taxes and have thousands of extra dollars to provide wage increases for my staff. Single-payer health care is the only viable alternative to repealing the ACA, which was designed, in part, to keep funneling business to insurance companies. Zeldin knows this, as do all Republicans who had six years to come up with “something terrific.”
Zeldin tries to use our farmers as justification for repealing the estate tax, what he dishonestly calls the “death tax.” He claims that this tax “causes one-third of all family-owned small businesses to liquidate after the death of the owner.” There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, but here are some actual facts. The estate tax only applies to estates worth more than $5.49 million, and the tax only kicks in above that amount. The estate tax only applies to 0.3 percent of our population, nowhere near the “one third” falsely claimed by Zeldin. Finally, the estate tax is not “double taxation” as conservatives like to claim. Yes, the person who earned the money was taxed, but when that money is transferred upon death, the heir receives it as unearned income. It’s no different than winning the lottery or receiving a cash gift.
I find it interesting that Zeldin is so concerned with our scientific community, since, politically, he is aligned with science deniers.
Similarly, he is concerned with veterans, yet aligns with those who would privatize the VA. For the record, despite administrative challenges within the VA, veterans overwhelmingly like the care they receive. Fix the bureaucracy, don’t hand it over to “for profit” capitalists.
Finally, as a conservative who presumably is concerned about government efficiency, who thinks smaller government is better government, I would ask why you need two fully staffed taxpayer funded offices within 25 miles of each other?
Congressman Zeldin can no longer assume he can make statements without having to defend them. His constituents demand he present evidence-based justification for his positions. We deserve no less, and we will accept no less.
Chris Cangeleri is a veterinarian and the owner of a veterinary practice in Rocky Point.
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