New York City Getting Shortchanged by Republicans in Washington

By Frank Barbaro, Candidate for United States Congress in District 13
October 14, 2004

The policies of the Bush administration and its Republican allies in Congress are putting New York City in an economic bind. New Yorkers are feeling the squeeze in many areas -- Homeland security, education, public safety and healthcare. We need elected officials who will put better policies in place, and make sure there is the funding to implement them.

FEWER JOBS

New York City has lost more than 230,000 jobs in the last two years alone, part of a disturbing national trend. America has lost almost three million private sector jobs since Bush took office. George Bush will be the first president in 70 years to end his term in office with fewer American jobs than when he started. The last president to do that was Herbert Hoover and he served during the Great Depression!

The Humphrey-Hawkins Act of 1978 says that the primary goal of our economic policies must be to reach maximum employment, and this should still be our goal. The policies of the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Congress, however, are clearly violating this law and this principle.

Instead of creating good paying jobs for New Yorkers, companies are outsourcing jobs at record levels. And many of the new jobs that have been created do not provide enough money to raise a family.

Bush’s and the Republican Congress’s attempt to take away overtime pay from 6 million working Americans, many of whom rely on overtime to make ends meet, is reprehensible. So are the Republicans’ efforts to block a raise in the minimum wage. We need to help working families do better, not make it harder. That’s what the American Dream is all about.

CUTS IN CITY SERVICES

But it’s not just jobs. Very important city services are being cut back or are facing budgetary squeezes because of Bush’s policies. After 9/11, you would think that New York City would get its fair share of Homeland Security funding. But that’s not the case. New York City gets less than $6 per person to fight the terrorists. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh gets $36, Orlando gets almost $50, and New Haven gets nearly $80. Alaska gets almost three times per person what New York State gets.

Our public schools are also suffering. We need the funding to recruit, train and reward quality teachers. We also need to build more schools and modernize those that already exist. Providing a good education to our children is one of government’s most important responsibilities. But laws like No Child Left Behind are meaningless when there is no money provided for implementation. For the past two years our schools have been under-funded by $1.2 billion.

The Republicans in Congress are also reducing the number of police we have to keep our communities safe. Having served as a State Supreme Court Justice, I understand the critical role a police officer plays in preventing and reducing crime in their assigned neighborhood. I support community policing and will fight to restore funds to the COPS program.

Our other first responders, firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians, are also being shortchanged. Over two years after 9/11, the Fire Department still does not have radios that work in a crisis, and less than 5 percent of our City’s EMTs and paramedics have received the training they need to enter a contaminated area and treat victims. Our police officers, firefighters and EMTs must have the proper training and equipment necessary for disaster preparation.

Finally, our City’s hospitals rank last in the nation in overall financial health. Yet, the new Republican-sponsored Medicare Bill gives preferential treatment to rural hospitals and less densely populated states. New York hospitals also continue to educate about 15 percent of the nation’s doctors ­ much more training than takes place in any other city ­ but have had their funding cut.

A TAX SYSTEM THAT BENEFITS THOSE WHO NEED IT

Largely, it is Bush’s irresponsible tax cuts that is costing our city jobs, and forcing both the city and the state to scramble to find ways to pay for needed services.

Our tax revenue should be used to help all American families; tax cuts should be aimed at those who need the break most. But Bush’s policies do the opposite. He provides tax breaks to the rich and corporate welfare to companies exporting American jobs, while working families are forced to shoulder a larger portion of the tax bill. Federal tax cuts have also forced the need to raise local taxes and fees.

New York City needs representatives in Washington who will fight to turn these policies around, officials who protect the American Dream and make sure our city gets its fair share of federal funds. Too much is at stake to continue on this dangerous course.

Frank Barbaro, a former New York State Assembly member and State Supreme Court Justice, is running for Congress in the 13th Congressional District, which covers Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, including the Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge neighborhoods.

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