The national election results this year are a reflection of what
happened in New York about a dozen years ago, when New Yorkers chose a
Republican governor and a Republican mayor. Since then, we have
reelected the governor twice, and elected a second Republican mayor.
Why has this happened? I believe it is because the people of New York
fundamentally support the core Republican principles of keeping crime
down, keeping welfare in check, and of course creating a good fiscal
climate to attract and keep businesses here. We have had enough of a
failed way of thinking, and have embraced new leadership.
I think this change has worked to the benefit of New York, and now we
are witnessing a similar reaction across the country. As long as those
true governing principles stay in place I think you'll see those same
But what the people of New York really want are officials working for
the public good, in a collective and bipartisan manner when possible.
What happened three years ago on September 11 proved the point that
while we may belong to different parties and have subtly different
beliefs from time to time, at the end of the day we are really all
Americans and all New Yorkers.
Much of what my Democratic colleagues want for New York, I'm sure I
would agree with.
MAINTAINING A HEALTHY BUSINESS CLIMATE
We should be focused on maintaining New York as a viable place to do
business -- not just to keep businesses here, but also to attract
businesses from around the country and from around the world. And to a
large extent we have succeeded, and much of that is a credit to those in
the private sector. I say that as someone who came out of the private
sector, who was born and raised in Staten Island, who has worked both
downtown and in Midtown, and knows what it is like to commute, knows
what it is like to miss an express bus, knows what it is like to work
late if I have to. That is the heart and soul of New York City: the
vibrant private sector based on the premise that if you can do it here
you can do it anywhere.
My priorities as a Member of Congress - and I guess these were somewhat
validated at the national level - is the notion that we are the engine
of the world, and that when we provide the right incentives and the
right beliefs, like the belief in opportunity - New York is, after all,
the place where you can secure your dream wherever you come from - if
you give those incentives, anything is possible. That means keeping
taxes lower to provide the incentives for growth.
I think one of the orders of business we have is to make the federal tax
reductions permanent to remove the uncertainty, whether it comes to
savings, investment, or the reallocation of capital. We should move
towards tax simplification that truly encourages growth and transparency
and becomes the envy of the world.
Above all, without the notion of national and personal security,
everything else is subordinate. We can have all the economic security we
want, but without a strong, prosperous and free nation, we're nothing.
The chaos that surrounded September 11 proved that everything else is
Homeland security will be an ongoing debate, with Secretary Tom Ridge
stepping down and a new leader coming to replace him. That's still a
work in progress. But one issue we must work together on is making sure
that New York City gets the federal homeland security funding it needs
and deserves. New York City is still Exhibit A when it comes to being a
terrorist target -- not the middle of Montana -- with all due respect to
the people there. We need to work to ensure that the funding flows
through to the state and the city and our first responders who are
working 24 hours a day to protect us have the tools and resources they
As far as homeland security, we are committed in a bipartisan way to
ensure that the funding is distributed based on threat -- not on a per
capita basis. We are seeing progress in that direction. Initially, it
was almost a grab bag of money, with some of it allocated based on
threat and the majority distributed to every state regardless of risk.
We would like to see it all threat-based.
The President and secretary Ridge have embraced that formula, and we
have a bill moving through Congress now to achieve our goal. We're
working with the mayor, the governor, and of course the entire
Another thing we can agree on as Democrats and Republicans is the
importance of not changing the funding formula as it relates to transit
needs. Fifty years ago, Dwight D. Eisenhower had this vision to
construct the federal highway system. I think we need a new vision as to
how this funding formula should work, because for the most part that
highway system has been built up. There are hundreds of billions of
dollars that flow into this fund, and we have to start thinking about
what the most effective way of using that fund is, as opposed to it
serving as a grab bag for projects across the country.
There is an effort to shift funding away from mass transit - which we
greatly rely upon here in New York - towards highway construction, which
doesn't benefit New York. We have to ensure that the percentage
dedicated to mass transit remains high. There's a good coalition of
Democrats and Republicans who are working to do just that.
At the end of the day, there are no guarantees, but this is one issue
where there is no Republican or Democratic label. We need to be working
together, as well as working with the two senators from New York to
ensure New York City gets its fair share.
That bill will be coming up in the next several months and it is our
responsibility to fight and make sure New York gets the resources it
Congressman Vito Fossella, who represents Staten Island and parts of
Brooklyn, is the only Republican in the 13-member congressional
delegation for New York City. This article was adapted from comments he
made at a breakfast forum sponsored by Crain's New York Business on
December 2, 2004.
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