Topics Run The Gamut During Rep. Maloney's Telephone Town Hall
Democratic New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney held a telephone town hall Thursday night. Callers asked about topics ranging from the federal tax law to immigration to the CPV power plant in Orange County.
Yvonne from Carmel in Putnam County asked the 18th District congressman what he could do to help families like hers who are losing state and local tax deductions under the new federal tax law. Maloney said he did not want to give false hope about new state legislation that changes the tax code to work around the limited SALT deductions.
“I think the IRS is never going to let it happen. I mean, ultimately, right, the states can’t overturn federal tax law,” said Maloney. “Only we can do that as voters electing new people and changing the law.
Charlie from Wawayanda in Orange County raised concerns about Competitive Power Ventures’ Valley Energy Center, which is in testing mode with diesel fuel, waiting for a pipeline hookup for natural gas.
“And it’s become quite an issue because what we’re coming to find out is a lot of the people that live right near it are having issues with it because the vibrations of that plant goes right though their houses,” Charlie said. “And some of them are asthmatic, they just get sick.”
“Protesters and the people opposed to this, they’ve been frustrated with me because I don’t think it makes any sense to try to turn back the clock. I think this thing is here to stay but it ought to be clean, and it ought to be safe, and it ought to be free from corruption, and I’m 100 percent on all of that,” said Maloney. “I don’t know that there’s any evidence that the Percoco corruption related to the actual permitting of the plant, but there sure as hell a problem with that. And I’m all for getting to the bottom of that. But I also want to keep your energy prices low. I also want to get us on a path to having less coal being used in our country and reducing our carbon emissions over time.”
A CPV spokesman has said that the project permits were never alleged to have been obtained in an improper way, nor was any evidence provided suggesting they were. Meantime, Republican Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus is among those who have called for a key CPV permit to be revoked. This followed the March conviction of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joseph Percoco on bribery charges that involved state business with two companies, including CPV.
“I see there’s a lot of politicians covering their butts, to be candid with you,” Maloney said.
“Exactly,” Charlie said.
It’s a bunch of crap,” Maloney said. “They all supported it until people started complaining.”
Ben from Middletown said illegal immigration is a major issue, and he and Maloney got into a back-and-forth over DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that protects certain young undocumented immigrants — known as DREAMers — from deportation.
Sandra’s from Putnam Valley.
“I’m 67, right, and today I had this cataract surgery, I have the Medicare and the Aetna, right. You know what the co-pays are for people like me? It’s scary,” Sandra said.
“No, tell me,” said Maloney.
“It was $300 I had to pay for one eye today which I didn’t have the money, well, I had $100 of it. Listen, when you’re making $1,200 a month or something like that, what do you got? Sandra said. "I’ve been working since I’m 15, on the books. What are we talking here? All my life I worked, and this is what I got?”
“I will fight till the last dog dies to protect the Medicare program. It’s all a lot of people have,” said Maloney. “And you’re making a great point, which is that it doesn’t cover everybody’s costs, even when they are on it.”
“Are you kidding? I had a triple bypass. I can’t even tell you how scary my medical bills are. If I was of a good mind, I’d put a gun to my head. Honey, it’s scary."
“Please don’t do that,” said Maloney.
“I’m not going to do that because I’m better now, I’m better now,” Sandra said. “I’ll shoot somebody else.”
“Euphemistically, as we say. (Sandra laughs) Listen, Sandra, so this is why, so when people ask me, hey, Sean, why were you against this Trumpcare nonsense, it’s because they’re coming after stuff that people like you depend on,” Maloney said.
Michael from Middletown had a question surrounding the nomination of a secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This follows Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson’s withdrawal from consideration amid allegations of misconduct. He was President Trump’s nominee.
“Could Congress compose a list for nominees for VA secretary, as you mentioned, the nominees that was, you’re pretty glad that he stepped down,” asked Michael.
“Do you know, in the history of our country, no one has ever voted against a VA administrator. No Democrat, no Republican, nobody in the minority and the majority has ever voted against a nominee. Why? Because normally the president talks to the senators who have to vote on this, and they pick somebody who is beyond reproach or somebody’s who’s got great qualifications because normally people say our veterans and their health care is so important, we want to put somebody in there who everybody can support. That’s what ought to happen,” Maloney said. “And I’m hoping the president comes to his senses on this because this has just been an embarrassing episode. And it really matters. This isn’t a joke; who runs the VA matters.”
Maloney holds several telephone and in-person town halls throughout the year.