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Woolf Challenges Stefanik On Buffett Rule, Minimum Wage

Lucas Willard

Northern York Congressional candidate Aaron Woolf, a Democrat, today called on his Republican challenger, Elise Stefanik, to fully support raising the minimum wage and to raise taxes on the wealthy — defining issues in the race for the open seat.

In his Glens Falls campaign office, 21st District Congressional candidate Aaron Woolf again called upon Republican challenger Elise Stefanik to come out fully in support of raising the minimum wage.

Stefanik, leading in the race according to a recent Seina poll that fell mostly along party lines, had a boost from U.S. House Speaker John Boehner earlier this week at a fundraiser at Queensbury Hotel, a block away from Woolf’s office in Glens Falls.

“If Elise Stefanik cared about the middle class in this district, she would have taken this opportunity to call for an immediate vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act," said Woolf.

The bill would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over a two-year period. Woolf also called out Stefanik on her position against the so-called “Buffet Rule,” a plan from President Obama requiring millionaires to pay at least 30 percent in taxes.

“Elise Stefanik refuses to support a common sense measure that would ensure millionaires and billionaires don't play a lower effective tax rate than the people that work for them, than their middle class employees."

Campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar responded to Woolf Friday afternoon, saying Stefanik would support a raise in the minimum wage if the small business community was brought into the discussion.

“That’s important because small business owners are going to bear the brunt of any increase," said Alcivar. "There's only one candidate in this race who has been sued by his own workers for failing to pay fair wages, and that is Aaron Woolf."

Alcivar spoke in reference to a lawsuit settled in 2010 where employees of Woolf’s Brooklyn restaurant accused Woolf of withholding overtime pay, reported recently in the New York Daily News.

Regarding the Buffett Rule, Alcivar said Stefanik supports instead a “fundamental, complete reform” to the tax code.

“So that every tax paper will be afforded a more fair, a more flat tax code, and will have more take home pay for their families," said Alcivar.

Woolf, a documentary filmmaker, has released his effective tax rate, which was 29.35 percent. Stefanik’s campaign has released her full tax returns and has called on Woolf to do the same. Stefanik is a former White House aide under President George W. Bush and works as vice president of her family’s plywood business. 

Green Party candidate and café owner Matt Funiciello said he would raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour. At his campaign office above his bakery, Funiciello tossed aside the Buffett Rule and pitched his idea to remove the existing tax system and replace it with a “consumption tax.”

“You don’t have income tax anymore, you don't have sales tax. You have a flat, 10 percent sales tax for everybody, for every purccase that they make," explained Funiciello. "If we are combining that with a living wage and single payer healthcare, workers will not see that as a regressive tax, but you combine that with a wealth tax. If own more than $10 million, you pay 1.3 percent a year, we would have enough taxation coming in, that no other form of taxation would be necessary."

This week it was reported a Democratic super PAC, House Majority, would not spend $300,000 on an advertising campaign in support of Woolf. Afterward, Funiciello, who has about 10 percent support to Woolf’s 33 percent in the same Siena poll, reiterated his call for Woolf to drop out of the race.

Woolf responded.

“I’m not planning on dropping out of the race.”

The three candidates are running to replace the retiring Democrat Bill Owens.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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